Saturday, 27 July 2013

LIFE OVERSEAS: An unexpected hello

SEEKING COMFORT: Home is not a physical place but where the heart lies

IT is always a delight to see a familiar face from your former home while abroad, especially if he is not a tourist but a foreign student in Ireland.
Whenever I see a Malaysian whom I do not know, there is a warm feeling in my heart as I am not alone in a foreign land.
Every time I enter an Asian food store, the shop owner asks: “Where are you from?” If he is a fellow Malaysian, we talk about our home states and the things we miss such as the local delicacies.
Imagine my joy when I learnt that my friend Eric Wan Kah Chun from my teenage years in Subang Jaya is in the Emerald Isle to further his studies.
We were not the closest of pals as we did not go to the same school or join the same activities. However, we caught up whenever we bumped into one another at social events or the shopping mall.
I found out about his move to Ireland via social media. It was a typical boring afternoon when I was checking Facebook for the latest updates. I spotted his post describing the fabulous summer weather.
I knew he was not in Malaysia or he would be complaining about the scorching heat. I found out that he arrived in Ireland several weeks ago.
I left him a message that I lived relatively nearby and we talked for hours later. Similar to when I first arrived in the country, he yearned for a Malaysian friend in a foreign land. But the closest I got was a Skype video call via the Internet, so it felt wonderful to befriend him again while abroad.
When you live overseas, everything is different. Change is necessary but not easy so we seek out a familiar comfort zone.
Wan lives a three-hour bus ride away. After much planning, we finally met after my state examination and I welcomed him with home-made Malaysian food, courtesy of my mother.
I then brought him around the small heritage town in the countryside where I live as most Malaysian students make a beeline for the cities where the tertiary institutions are located. It was nice to see a familiar face as none of my friends from Malaysia has visited me yet due to the pricey flight ticket.
Home is not a physical place but where the heart lies. So I hope I was able to bring a little piece of “home” to Wan by being a Malaysian at heart.

The writer will enter university in September and loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: An unexpected hello - You - New Straits Times

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