I have officially lived in Malaysia for a year. Woo! I’ve learned a lot about myself over the year and a lot more about other cultures. I’ve also been able to look more critically at my home country (especially in terms of politics). Living in Asia has some downsides but there’s also a lot of great things that are here that are different from the states. Throughout the last year there have been quite a few moments where I’ve thought “Why doesn’t that exist in the U.S.?!?” or “I’m so glad this is different from what the U.S. does.” So here goes,
What I don’t Miss About the US:
1) Catcalling: Catcalling rarely if ever happens in Malaysia. This was actually one of the first things that I noticed that I just really do not miss. While living and walking around the bay area, I was yelled at, honked at, whistled at a least once every quarter mile. Worse if I was going into certain areas of San Francisco. In one day, I was approached or yelled at by 5 different guys. Ugh. While walking around, I always felt like I had to have my guard up. In the last year, I have heard someone say something or been approached by someone on the street twice, one guy of which was honestly concerned about me walking to work in the haze and the heat. And I walk to work every single day. It honestly feels safer walking around in South East Asia than it does in the city. I do not miss catcalling.
2) Road Rage: California has some of the worst drivers in the world (come on guys, we can admit it). But the real problem is the way people react to bad driving. The honking, cussing and flipping each other off, totally unnecessary. We would be much happier people if we just let it go. People in Asia are fearless drivers. They cut people off, slide into lanes without enough space, pull out in front of speeding cars. But majority of the time, no one gets mad because if you did you would just spend the entire time driving pissed off. And who needs that?
3) Roadside food: Hungry while driving through the middle of nowhere in the US? Your best option is typically Jack in the Box. Or Carls Jr, if you’re lucky. Either way you’re most likely stuck eating some horribly over-processed, pre-frozen fast food. Hungry while driving through the middle of Malaysia? You can find fresh homemade curries, rice and delicious curry puffs at every rest stop. Most times there’s even a stall selling cut fresh fruit, not to mention a prayer room.
4) Waiting at the Bank/Post Office: This one is super random but I am completely shocked that the U.S. has not implemented this yet. If you go to the bank or the post office in Asia (or at least Malaysia and China), you take a number and then SIT DOWN. What? I cannot tell you how many hour Americans spend standing in line at the bank or post office. Why have we not put this number system in place yet?!?!
5) Ridiculously Expensive Airfare: Why is it so expensive to travel in the U.S.? Seriously. Can someone explain this to me? Asia is exceptionally cheap. I booked a round-trip domestic flight this week for less than $9 (USD). I know that this partially because of exchange rates, but even in Europe you can get a round-trip flight for less than $50. Just flying to LA from SF sets me back at least $125. Ok, so as I was writing this I googled why it’s so expensive and Nomadic Matt has an old but pretty awesome post about why the prices have gone up so much.
6) Service at restaurants: Some people hate the service in restaurants here, mainly because it’s different than in the states. In the U.S. it’s considered rude if you don’t check up on your tables, if you don’t come back within the correct amount of time to take orders and give the bill. But in Malaysia, when you want something you have to wave someone down. If you don’t, you will never get any service. People who visit here get upset because they think they shouldn’t have to ask to get service and in the U.S. it’s often considered a bad sign to have to wave over your waiter. But in the last year, I have not once been in the middle of a bite and had some ask “How’s your meal?” We all know how awkward that moment is. Also some larger and a bit nicer restaurants have little buzzers on each table to call over your waiter. My aunt would have been so happy to see those!
While there are many things I miss about the U.S., Target, Chipotle, my car, and of course my family. There are a lot of little conveniences to living in South East Asia. Not to mention by beautiful apartment, with a gym and a pool, that is less than half the cost of my tiny Berkeley studio.
What don’t you miss about your home country? Or what would you not miss if you moved aboard? Comment with your thoughts below!!