Stephen: I Found Malaysia
This entry is different from our usual featured blogs. Stephen did not relocate to Malaysia for work-related reasons, but to spend his retirement years there. Also, rather than spending time with fellow expats, he tries to immerse himself into the culture of his new home as much as possible. I Found Malaysia chronicles his experiences.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Malaysia, etc.
My name is Stephen Sovie. I am originally from Watertown, N.Y, but I lived in Boston, MA for a number of years before I retired and moved to Malaysia.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging about my experience of moving to Malaysia because I had such a difficult time trying to find information when I decided to move.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Malaysia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I adjusted to my new life here with very few problems. The greatest difficulty was getting used to the high humidity. I thought I would experience culture shock, but I never did.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Malaysia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I feel as though I was fully prepared for life in Malaysia. The problems that I had were with the US government and US banks.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Something that has happened to me a few times is both amusing and annoying at the same time. I love spicy food, especially Thai food and eat it quite often. When I first moved here I had to search out the best places to get Thai food. Since most of my friends are local I depended upon their recommendations. One night some of friends took me to a Thai restaurant that was known for its spicy authentic Thai food. When the food came it was bland. There was not a hint of heat. After the end of the meal, the manager came over to ask how the meal was. I said it was not very spicy. He responded, “Since you are British we made it very mild, because we know you people don’t like spicy food.” We all laughed as my friends explained in Chinese that I was not British, but American and I loved very spicy food. The embarrassed manager apologized and assured us that the next time it would be authentic Thai food.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Malaysia?
I would advise them to be open minded, adventurous and not expect living here to be just like home.
How is the expat community in Malaysia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I did not then and do not now search out the expat community. I feel very strongly about people who move to a new country and immediately search out others from their home country to socialize and live near. If I wanted to hang around like minded Americans I would have stayed home. The purpose of living in a foreign country is to experience a new culture, new food and a different way of life. I find that if I ask a local about something I need, I will get more accurate and helpful information than I would get from a fellow expat.
How would you summarize your expat life in Malaysia in a single, catchy sentence?
I moved to Malaysia and became part of the life here, not a spectator.