Tag Archives: New Culture

Island Girl Takes Big (Foreign) City

By Connie Choy

In spring of 2013 I decided to move away from home for the first time and live in one of the busiest cities in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Although it has been four years since my five-month trip I am constantly finding myself reminiscing about the unforgettable times I had with the lifelong friends I made.

Conversely, even with all of the happy memories I will never forget the challenges I had to overcome when I first got to the big city. Just to put things in perspective, I’m from Hawaii (Oahu island specifically), which has a population of about 1 million people. Tokyo is approximately home to about 14 million natives and transplants – that is 14 times the size! Moving away from home on your own, especially in a foreign country is a very difficult thing to do, but I believe it will be one of the most formative experiences of your life. Notably, my hardships were what pushed me into a mindset that yearned for adventure and growth.

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Adventures in Asia

By Ida Ibhari

 

When I first got the notification that I had been accepted for an internship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the summer, I was of course excited – but also a little apprehensive. Though my roots are in Iran, I had never traveled to East Asia, or Southeast Asia, before. Nor did I know much about the culture, or language, or even the food.

Several of my family members who had been on trips to Kuala Lumpur tried to tell me what to expect.

“We were walking on the road and it was so hot, and sunny,” my aunt explained. “Then, all of a sudden, buckets, really, buckets of rain started pouring down.”

So I made sure to pack an umbrella – an item that I never even had a need to own, living in drought-ridden Southern California. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the humidity. Living in California, I was used to heat, but I was also used to cooler, breezier night temperatures. I always heeded my mom’s advice, and always, always, brought a jacket for later on. So I was shocked when, upon getting to the international arrivals terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I walked outside at around 2 a.m. to be promptly greeted by sauna-like conditions. What?

The weather and I had constant battles. For some reason, I kept thinking that this could only be temporary, that perhaps this was a passing tropical storm, or some kind of lingering after-effect from a hurricane. I checked the weather everyday – fruitless, given that it didn’t really fluctuate much. And I kept bringing my jacket.

My landlord warned me that I needed to turn off the air conditioning when not at home. I resisted – getting home involved a sometimes cramped metro ride, followed by a mile-long walk home. I quickly learned that the laws of physics were very different in KL and walking a mile there somehow was a lot longer distance than a mile in Los Angeles. So, I wanted a cold, icy room every day.

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