I came to Malaysia last October to study in the double master program between University of Malaya and Kyoto University, Japan. I am originally from Kyoto, Japan. This was a first time for me to visit Kuala Lumpur. I had been to Johor Bahru twice for a short visit before, but was not familiar with the country before coming to study abroad in Malaysia.
There were two events in my life which are related to Malaysia, that influenced me and I decided to take the opportunity to study in Malaysia. One is the friendliness of Malaysian people that I have met while I was working in Japan. I had several times when I was doing business with people from Malaysia, and as I talked with them, I had the impression that Malaysian people are friendly and thoughtful. So, I had the good image about Malaysia before coming to the country. And, I had been seeing and hearing in the media that Malaysia has been putting efforts in improving international education. Especially, what was attractive for me was that all classes are taught in English in University of Malaya. Although the quality of education in the Japanese universities are excellent, generally, university classes are taught in Japanese language in Japan. So, Japanese students will not have the opportunity to improve their English, if they continue to stay and study only in Japan. To broaden my knowledge, I felt the need to study abroad and improve my English skills.
The expectations that I had before coming to Malaysia was to get to know how students in the top universities in Malaysia think about various academic issues. I wanted to know what the popular topic of discussions are in the field of international public health among the students in this field in Malaysia. I also wanted to know about the type of researches that are conducted in Malaysia. Also, I had the expectations of getting to know the Malaysian culture. I wanted to visit various cities in Malaysia. While I stay here in Malaysia for 10 months, I had the opportunity to visit Ipoh. That was an exciting train ride from KL to Ipoh, and I could see the beautiful scenery of different parts of Malaysia from the window of the train to Ipoh.
My study abroad periods end in August, and I will be returning to Japan soon. During the ten months that I stayed in Malaysia, I have learned a lot. It is difficult for me to list up all the good memories that I have from studying in Malaysia. Especially, there are two learnings that I would like to bring back to Japan and tell my friends, family as well as professors and peer students in Japan. First issue is about management of time. I have always wondered why Japanese people seem to be so busy all the time. People are eager to rush from one place to another, and always preoccupied with things they need to do. Comparing to that, people in Malaysia seems so relaxed, and they will not rush things. At the beginning, it was frustrating experience for me to feel the difference of attitudes of the Japanese and the Malaysians. I need to be patient in waiting longer time for things to be accomplished in Malaysia. But, from the middle of my stay in Malaysia, my thinking changed slightly. I started to think, how can we be most optimal and be reasonable at the same time, in a given situation. Although Japanese people are punctual and hardworking, I could sense that people are pushing too hard, and being stressful. On the other hand, people in Malaysia are less stressful, and value peacefulness in mind. This is an important aspect in life. This is a great learning for me, and I would like to send this message to the Japanese people and continue to think about how best to spend time with peace in mind.
Another leaning for me while staying in Malaysia is about honesty. It is difficult to describe in words, but the sense of honesty I found among the Japanese and the Malaysians are slightly different. There are many things in life which are unsaid when communicating with people, because of the peer pressure from society and fear of giving bad impressions who are around you. This sometimes put limits on what people says to one another in Japanese society. Contrary to that, in Malaysia, I could feel the sense of trust and cooperativeness among Malaysian people to open up their feelings. I find that the Malaysians are straightforward and honest, and considerate at the same time. Walking the talk is easy to say but difficult to do.
Overall, I enjoyed staying in Malaysia very much, and also learned many things in my study field of public health. Also, it was great experience for me to get to know Malaysian people and culture. I would like to appreciate everyone who had helped me.