An Interview with a French Expat Living in Malaysia

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Name: Gauthier
Home Country: France
Designation/Industry/Company (optional): IT Security
Marital Status: Single

What brought you to Malaysia?
A plane brought me here, of course, as there was apparently no way to drive here from France (yes, I looked, but going through Afghanistan and Pakistan didn’t feel like my brightest idea at this time). Jokes aside, it was the company I worked for that brought me here. For some reason, they thought that a French guy managing Malaysians for a Finnish company was a good idea.

What do you like and dislike about living here?
What I love about living in Kuala Lumpur is all the different people you can meet. This is truly a cosmopolitan city, much more than other capital cities I know. You can find this multicultural mindset in pretty much all aspects of life here, whether it’s work, food, shopping, and so on. I believe this is quite enriching. However, some stuff still really bugs me. I used to think France was a bit messy as a country, but now when I go back to France I feel like I am in Switzerland. KL is very chaotic; not much planning and poor maintenance overall.

What is your favourite holiday destination in Malaysia or in the region? Why?
I’ve only been here for about a year now, and unfortunately have not had much time to travel around. I’ve only been to Thailand and Vietnam, and had fantastic holidays in both cases. Can’t wait to see more!

Describe a memorable eating experience you have had here.
My most memorable eating experience here would certainly be durian of course. My colleagues decided that I had to try this, so after purchasing some fresh ones from Chinatown, we ventured towards Bukit Bintang carrying our durians in the LRT. Of course everyone could smell it, and people were smiling at me, this big white guy who apparently had no clue as to what is going to happen. At some point we stopped at Starbucks for some drinks and Idecided it was about time to try this. The taste is better than the smell, they said, so I grabbed a fair chunk of it and put into my mouth, and almost immediately I spit it out! Everyone was laughing at me while I was trying not to throw up in the middle of Starbucks. Of course, I’ve also had fantastic food experiences here, but this durian event is probably the most memorable (and no, I haven’t tried it again).

What do you miss most about your home country?
I really miss the wine and wine bars from my home country, where you can just sip all evening long while eating delicatessen and cheese with bread. I do miss my friends, too, of course, but luckily I get to go back to France often and have had friends visit me.

What advice do you have for a newly arrived expat?
I would suggest a newly arrived expat here to be extremely careful when it comes to selecting housing options (distance from work, traffic, noise, amenities, etc.), and to take time to know the city before committing to any long-term rental agreement.

How long do you plan to stay in Malaysia? Where would you like to go next, and why?
I will stay for at least eight months more, and then I don’t know! Maybe extend here for a while or move somewhere else. But something is certain; I want to remain in an international context, both professionally and personally.

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Source: The Expat magazine September 2015

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