Jamie Lee Tkalcevic
If you want to climb a mountain and no one else does, do it yourself!
My favourite part of exchange in Malaysia would have to be the friendships I made. It was surprising how friendly everyone at Monash Malaysia and Malaysia in general was. Every person I met was generally interested about my cultural background and was willing to go so far out of their way to show me theirs. The food definitely has to be the highlight! Not only is it cheap but the variety is huge! You can get everything from Chinese stir fries to German sausages. And the best thing about it is most of the meals can be delivered directly to you! Being in Kuala Lumpur, you are literally situated in the air hub of Asia. That means it is so easy to visit any of the surrounding countries. On top of that the air fares are so so cheap!
Some of my favourite experiences:
- Weekend trips to pristine islands off Malaysia’s coast where you literally sit on the beach in the sun and drink rum. You can also snorkel with turtles and sharks just off the beach.
- Watching the sunset over Kuala Lumpur from the top of a Helipad at Helipad Bar, then heading over to one of the world’s top 100 night clubs, Zouk.
- Going out for late night dinners at 24 hours restaurants with my local university friends.
- Holi Festival! One of the craziest festivals I’ve experienced. Literally danced to Indian music whilst throwing paint at random people. Everyone was having the time of their lives!
- Chinese New Year. I didn’t know anything about it until the sky was filled with fireworks and streets with celebrations.
Travelling has become a norm these days. What excites you most about visiting new places?
I think the best thing about visiting a new place is the unknown. You never know what a place is going to be like. You can look at photos of a place ahead of time, but a photo can’t convey the true beauty of a place. The real beauty lies in the little things, the people, the culture, the smells and tastes. What I really love is no matter where you go, the adventure you are taken on is never what you expect. You never know what will happen, or where a day will take you. Even if your trip is fully planned, something surprising will happen!
What is your advice to students who would like to study in Monash Malaysia?
DO IT! It was literally the best thing I’ve done. Don’t worry if you are tied down by a job, a girlfriend etc. These things can wait. You have literally got one chance. I tried to convince all of my friends to come, some of them laughed and said why would you want to go to Malaysia or others were worried they would lose their jobs. I lost my job and I’m glad I did! I had the best year of my life. Once I returned all my friends regretted not going.
When you’re in Malaysia, make friends. Make lots of friends! You can read books, learn the language, eat the food but you will never fully understand the culture if you don’t engage with the locals. Malaysians are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet! You will be surprised how far they are willing to go to show you their world. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Whether it’s eating deep fried insects or bungee jumping, give it a shot!!! Don’t let anything stop you doing what you want to do! If you want to climb a mountain and no one else does, do it yourself! Don’t let others ruin your adventure.