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Gain Skills and Learn Culture in Malaysia

Who says that classes should only be for children? Whether you are new or have been in Malaysia for a while, it’s never too late to learn about this multicultural paradise we call home. If you’ve got a little time on your hands and are looking for a new skill to learn, there are many different options for adults to take classes in a variety of fields all over Malaysia. Learn – one course at a time – about the people and things that contribute to the unique tapestry of this Southeast Asian nation.

COOK YOUR HEART OUT
Anyone who has sat down to eat in Malaysia knows the extraordinary flavours of local cuisine. Take a day off at one of Malaysia’s numerous cooking schools and enhance your skills in the kitchen. Get to know Malaysian food like never before with a day spent with true foodies! Days begin with an education on local ingredients and spices either at the cooking school itself or at the local market. Enjoy a day full of food and fun, and leave with a stomach full of scrumptious food and recipes of your favourites from the mamak all ready to be recreated at home. Here are a few cooking schools around the nation that we recommend:

LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking Class; Jln Wan Kadir 3, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur; open 10am-2pm Mon-Sat (closed Sunday and Public Holidays); RM 200 per person; www.malaysia-klcookingclass.com.

Cooking Class in Penang; 71 Stewart Lane, George Town, Penang; Tuesday-Saturday 7:30am-12:30pm, RM 135 (adult) RM 100 (child 6-16); www.pickles-and-spices.com.

Bumbu Cooking Class; 57 Carpenter Street, Kuching, Sarawak; open daily 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm; www.bumbucookingclass.weebly.com.

LEARN A LANGUAGE
There is no better way to experience a nation than becoming immersed in its language and culture. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, Cantonese, or Tamil than simply enough to order food or direct a taxi, check out one of the many language courses offered all over the country. Courses are available in a multitude of languages, taught by native or fluent speakers. Both regional and international language courses are offered and courses can be customized to focus on specific parts of communication. A language experience can be as intense or laid back as you like it, just make sure to check with your instructors.

YMCA Kuala Lumpur; Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields; YMCA open daily 9:30am-5:30pm (course times and prices vary); www.ymcakl.com.

GET IN SHAPE
Introduce yourself to new cultures and get in shape all at the same time! Enjoy an early morning at a park with Tai Chi. Get your blood pumping with an intensive Bollywood dance class. Learn the art of attack and defence with the deadly Malaysian martial art of Silat. Activities range from low impact to an intense workout all based on your preference. Whether you enjoy a relaxing walk around a lake, or an intense dance session, there is a place for you to exercise and experience a different lifestyle all in one place.

Association of Tai Chi Huang Malaysia; P.O. Box 10696, 50722 Kuala Lumpur; class times and price vary; www.huangtaichiassociation.com.

Mast Millennium Dancers; Bangsar Sports Center, Jalan Terasek 3; open Tuesday-Thursday (by appointment), lesson prices vary (starting at RM70).

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Silat Melayu Keris Lok 9; Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh, Selangor; Open daily; www.kerislok9.blogspot.com.

PAINT IT LIKE A PRO
Enjoy a batik-painting course and become immersed in this traditional Malaysian art form. Coming mainly from the East Coast, many batik masters have opened up their studios to pass on their knowledge. Lessons are available for all levels of experience. Let your creative juices flow, as you will be taught painting techniques that have been passed down through generations. Sam Karuna hosts an intensive three month long course will help you to develop a knowledge and understanding of this Malaysian fine art.

Sam Karuna Fine Art Batik; Times vary based on course schedule; RM1,200 for three-month course; samkaruna.net.

Master some of the traditional Chinese fine arts in no time at all. Courses are offered in a variety of areas including ink calligraphy, ink painting and ink landscape painting. Again, no knowledge of art is necessary, just a willingness to learn about an important facet of a new culture.

MIA-Malaysian Institute of Art; Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur; courses run mostly on Sundays 1pm-3pm and 3pm-5pm; RM240-280 for two-month course (not inclusive of art materials); www.mia.edu.my.

You can also check out JADI Batek Gallery, at No. 30, Jalan Inai, Off Jalan Imbi. For more information, visit the official website at www.jadibatek.com or check out their online shop at www.handicraft.com.my.

POUND OUT A BOWL
Experience first-hand the importance of pewter in Malaysian history. Get acquainted with this country’s tin mining past and see how it propelled Malaysia onto the global economic map. Courses teaching how to make pewter bowls are offered at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. The school is located 20 minutes north of KL City Centre, and here, you will be able to experience the entire process of transforming pewter into bowls and cups. Relive the height of local tin mining and take home a keepsake that you made yourself.

School of Hard Knocks, Pewter Factory Courses, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre; Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya; open daily 9am-5pm; RM50 for tour and bowl making; visitorcentre.royalselangor.com

PURSUE A DEGREE
If you’re looking for something a little more formal, there are 20 public universities and dozens of private universities in Malaysia. A great way to advance your career, any and all courses and degree programmes are available. Receive a quality education at internationally recognized universities right here in Malaysia. Check universities near you or the ministry of higher education to see what courses are offered in your area.

www.mohe.gov.my/portal/en/

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This article was written by Simon Gartner for The Expat magazine.
Source: The Expat August 2012
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