Alejandra: Ale Berrie
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Kuala Lumpur, etc.
My name is Alejandra, known online by my blog as Ale Berrie. I am 24 years old and have been living in Kuala Lumpur for the last 2 years. I am originally from Florida, lived there all my life, until I decided to move to KL with my boyfriend. He is an architect and I ended up getting a job with a company called Mindvalley. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’ve learned so much about the industry I am in. But most importantly, moving to Asia has taught me so much about myself, more than I ever could have imagined which is why I recommend it to anyone. Don’t stay stuck in the same routine for your whole life! Travel, explore every inch of this earth, because it has so much to offer.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Being from the US, the culture is VERY different from Malaysia. Everything is constantly moving and progressing where I am from, and here in Malaysia, they are only beginning to crawl. Or at least that’s how it was when I first arrived. I’ve noticed in the last two years that it’s rapidly changing but still for some reason, slow moving; if that makes sense.
Anyway, I have a degree in Hospitality and Event Management; that’s what I love to do. Culinary, party planning, customer service, I’m a natural at it, so when I landed a job in internet marketing, I was lost! Not for long though. I am so grateful for the job I got because it helped me take my passion online.
The reason I started blogging though is because I love to cook and bake, especially comforting foods that I enjoyed so much back home but couldn’t find here. Everything is rice and noodles. Don’t get me wrong… I am Latina, and we LOVE rice… but let’s say if I wanted chicken wings with blue cheese and fries... chances are if they make it here, it’s NOT what you are expecting. So after a couple of months, I learned not to get my hopes up. Anyhow, I was getting a bit fed up, because I was really starting to miss the comforts of a yummy brownie that wasn’t going to give me an extreme sugar high! Or a simple bowl of chicken soup the way my abuela makes it. That is how Ale Berrie was born. I figured: I love to cook and bake, I know how to do it well (tooting my own horn here), and I feel others will enjoy it too! And well… not to keep tooting my own horn, but I was right. I started going to food festivals and selling my desserts and I would sell out! But then I decided, I do so much more than cooking/baking, and I know others would enjoy reading about my experiences and it could even help them, so I began blogging about my life in general. Food reviews from places in KL, my traveling, etc.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Kuala Lumpur differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
UH - YES! Culture shock for like the first 6 months. Well maybe not that extreme. It was definitely a mixture of being super homesick and some culture shock. But it was and continues to be VERY different. The biggest difference I find is what I call the “Convenience factor”. Everything back home is extremely convenient.
Couldn’t get to the bank this week? No problem! Our banks are open on weekends too.
Wait, this isn’t your home bank you say? As in you didn’t open your checking account with us? Not a problem! You can go to any branch as long as it’s your bank and we can help you instantly.
Hi, can I take your order?
Yes - can I have the chicken salad sandwich but instead of onions can I have extra tomatos and no mayo please? Also, could I get a different side?
Yes, of course! What would you like?
Sweet potato fries please. Thank you.
BOOM! Convenience. Here that DOES NOT … I repeat DOES NOT happen. But really that’s about it.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Kuala Lumpur? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I lived all my life in Florida… so no, I definitely was not fully prepared. I had no idea what to expect of what awaited me. But if I knew what I know now, I would have brought more of certain products or less of a certain type of shoe. Things in KL can be quite pricey compared to back home because of the import tax. But luckily I go home every year so I just restock on my favorite things!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, I wouldn’t consider this incident funny, although everyone else around me seems to find it hilarious. One morning my boyfriend and I went out for breakfast but we were both fairly new and trying to figure out what would be best. We had just left from visiting the office where I work, and there was an Old Town downstairs. I was already missing home and assuming everything would be the same. Wrong. I ordered what appeared to be eggs and toast. Let me rephrase that...what appeared to be a simple over medium egg and toast. Wrong again. Soft boiled eggs. Ever heard of em? Of course you have! well… Long story short… being the cry baby that I am, I did in fact tear up at the site of these runny eggs that are an absolute favorite of many Malaysians. I’m not proud of how I reacted - I thought I was tough. Well who knew, half cooked eggs could break me down.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Kuala Lumpur?
- Enjoy the experience, at times things will get tough, but try to take those things with a grain of salt. You’ll learn and grow from the experience and it’ll make you a better person.
- Whatever you do, DO NOT compare this to where you are from. Especially if this is the first place you’ve ever lived outside your country. Honestly, if you compare, you’re going to be miserable. It’s just not the same, and you need to come in knowing that.
- Don’t be a smug foreigner. You’re embarking on a journey; you should try to get to learn about the place you’re living, the people who inhabit it, and their culture. Trust me it’ll make your experience a lot easier!
How is the expat community in Kuala Lumpur? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I think the expat community is rather large. I actually work for a company comprised of over 100 people from 30+ different countries, so I really had no trouble at all.
How would you summarize your expat life in Kuala Lumpur in a single, catchy sentence?
I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way, I’m taking my time. Because every day in KL is surprising and you never really know where you’re going, but you’re on your way. Life is a journey. Take your time.