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An American Shares Her Experience Living in Malaysia

Name: Nadiya Rodriguez
Home city/country: Los Angeles, USA
Industry/Job: Banking/Finance
Other countries you have lived in: Germany, Australia, Thailand

What brought you to Malaysia and how long have you been here?
I had been to Malaysia before whilst visiting friends and I fell in love with the country, the culture and the food! I have friends here who helped me look for work, so as soon as I landed myself a job in 2013, I left my home in L.A. for the exotic life in Malaysia.

What do you like and dislike about living here?
Being a bit of a globetrotter myself, I love how multicultural Malaysia is, and it has hints of my life in L.A. and Bangkok so a part of it feels very familiar. I’ve met beautiful people along the way and I love how there are many things to do in Malaysia, like jungle trekking/hiking, enjoying the waterfalls, the beaches, the food, the festivals, and so on. It’s definitely a colourful life. I’ve learnt to accept the trials traffic presents here in KL so my biggest gripe would be the safety for women in Malaysia. I miss feeling safe enough to walk around the streets on my own and of not having to worry about whether my outfit will attract the wrong kind of attention, and not having to clutch my handbag close to my body for fear of it being snatched. The crime rate is quite unnerving and I really hope something will be done about it.

Name three typical weekend activities that you enjoy?
I love hiking to the waterfalls, enjoying my morning teh tarik and roti canai and discovering new coffee joints and restaurants around the city.

What is your favourite holiday destination in Malaysia or in the region. Why?
It has to be Penang because I absolutely love the food there! I haven’t had anything like it. In the region, I’d pick Thailand. You can’t go wrong there – affordable food, hotels, massages and great beaches.

Describe a memorable eating experience you have had here.
When I first came to Malaysia, a friend brought me out to have fruit rojak and I asked her what the thick black sauce was. She explained that it was essentially made out of shrimp paste and I found it extremely odd to be having seafood with fruits. Who would enjoy that? It almost felt like an episode of Fear Factor – but I dug in and I love it!

What do you miss about your home country?
Obviously my friends and family and strangely enough, the cold! A part of me misses dressing up in scarves and boots, though my friends overseas are jealous of my permanent tan.

Do you own property here? If so, where? If not, why?
No I don’t, it just seems like a huge investment and I’m not sure I want to be tied down to that large of a commitment here just yet.

What advice would you give to a newly-arrived expat?
Keep an open mind and you’ll be surprised at how great of an experience you can have here. Many things will frustrate you but if you go with the flow, you will appreciate Malaysia and all its beauty.

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How long do you plan to stay in Malaysia?
Where would you like to go next, and why? I don’t have any plans to leave Malaysia just yet, I still want to explore the Borneo rainforest!

Is Malaysia a good place in which to work and do business? Why?
Most definitely – Malaysia seems to be going through an exploration phase where you see many more locals taking bigger risks and quitting their corporate jobs to start up their own small businesses and I see many of these start-ups doing quite well! I think there are many gaps in the market that can be addressed, so I definitely do think this is a great place to be right now.

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