I AM A THIRD CULTURE KID.

Life in Malaysia Pt. 1

Back in 1997 – some old photographs of the family move to Kuala Lumpur

I have decided to write this post to give you a little
insight to the wonderful world of Kuala Lumpur and how being a third culture
kid has made me who I am today. A third culture kid is a kid is defined as a
child who has spent a significant amount of time (early 0-18 years) in a
culture that is different to their parents. I spent 12 years blending the life I
knew here in Aberdeen with the life I learned living in Malaysia.

I was brought up over seas in Kuala Lumpur. I moved there at
the prime age of seven with a boy’s haircut and a cast on my arm. My hair cut
prompted people to ask if I was a boy or a girl, I thought that question was
only ever asked when babies were born… you know… the whole bow in the hair
ordeal. But alas, here I was… attending the International School of Kuala
Lumpur. I remember going to Malaysia when I was 6 for a holiday with no clue
that later on that year we would be packing our life up into cardboard boxes
and shipping them away closely followed by the family move to the big smog. Malaysia
is situated in South East Asia on the northern side of the equator and is only
about a 4-hour drive from Singapore.

Back in 1997 there were no flyovers and the Petronas Towers
were just being built. It was magical watching all the sky-high buildings come
together and the roads form mazes that actually did take you from A to B. It
was right around the time that Armageddon came out in the cinema – I remember
it like it was yesterday… because I wasn’t allowed to watch it!

At such a young age I was very impressionable… I started
dropping my Scottish accent and adopted an American accent, which I still
haven’t shaken off and I’ve been back home since 2008! At the same time I was
introduced to friends and families of different cultures and backgrounds and I
soaked up all their different religions and cultures and to this day I cherish
that I did because the world has grown into such a big, bad, ugly place and
those people have left a trail of love in my heart. There are numerous cultures and religions in Malaysia – so many that we hardly ever had a full week of school throughout the year due to holidays that respected different beliefs. I can’t say I ever complained about that though.

Kuala Lumpur is a city with buckets of culture and mounds of
hype and buzz, there really is no rest for the wicked in the big smog. We moved
into an apartment outside of the city and when we snuck up to the rooftop there
was an unspoiled, gorgeous view of the city. Over the years that we lived there
we watched it grow. Soon enough the days of mum driving us in the brown Proton
Wira to the gas station to catch the school bus were over and we moved into a beautiful high rise apartment in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. This was
where the fun began.

I grew up in the city. I started high school and made
friends with people who to this day are like family. We started exploring bars
and clubs and the nightlife in KL became the focal point of the week. Looking
back it almost feels like I missed out on the some of the spectaculars of Kuala
Lumpur because we were to busy having fun. A close family friend of mine lived
in the same apartment building as me and soon our place became the meeting
point. Pre drinks, BBQs, pool parties, the social scene always ended up at
Hampshire even for our big sisters and parents.

Through the parties, the never-ending volleyball tournaments
and dance shows with school Kuala Lumpur kept growing. The mamak stalls started
disappearing and big chains and restaurants took over. No matter what happened
though the small local street carts and shanty restaurants always managed to
pop up somewhere close by. At the end of a night out there were no Mc Donalds
and Kebab shops to sit in; it was rice served from a water cooler and Milo to
drink with a side Ayam Goreng (Friend Chicken). I swear that is how I never had
hangovers. Eating in little restaurants like that may not have been the
fanciest places to go however they are a massive part of the reason I am a massive food fanatic now.

 

I graduated school in 2008 and yep, we did the whole cap and
gown thing and threw our hats in the air (there is a tiny picture at the top of this post of my cap and gown ). It feels like a million years ago but
I remember it so clearly. We partied until our hearts were content and before the blink of an eye, school was no more. No more failed Bahasa Malayu tests, no more Varstiy Volleyball and most importantly no more Kuala Lumpur. At the time it was like my life was over – all my friends were dispersing and moving all over the world to go to College and University and I returned to Scotland. Just like that my life changed forever. 

To be continued in Part 2

xx Love Rachel xx

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