Being far away from home, sometimes it makes us miss the environment and culture we’re accustomed to. It also makes us appreciate our culture more. That’s what happens to me while I’m here in Sussex. As much as I love being here, I do miss home. And I’m lucky because there are events which gather the Malaysians and our effort to introduce our culture to the university and city.
In order to know one’s culture, one needs to try the food of the culture. We, Malaysians, are very much known for our various delicious food! One of them is the very famous ‘Nasi Lemak’, coconut rice and eaten with spicy anchovies sambal, fried peanuts, hard-boiled eggs and sliced cucumbers. You can even get Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaves here on the campus! Nyums :p Order a day before and you can get it for lunch. That’s what I normally do anyway, if I miss homey food. 🙂
Another must-eat food from Malaysia is ‘keropok’ and I’m proud to say that the best ‘keropok’ can be found from Terengganu, a state I’m from. Keropok is somewhat fish hotdog and its main ingredients are minced fresh fish and tapioca starch. I think it’s the best when fried and eaten with a special chilli sauce!
In Malaysia, we have few main festives to celebrate, like Eid Mubarak and Chinese New Year. So, we decided to celebrate Ramadan and Eid on the campus! I’ve been a student here for two years now and we have celebrations on the campus every day during Ramadan and on the first Eid. I remember last year, we had the biggest gathering of Malaysians here in Brighton on campus during the first Ramadan so that we can enjoy iftar together with fellow friends on the campus with delicious food and drinks brought by almost everyone. After almost 19 hours of fasting (no food and water), we filled our tummy with the various delicious food and refreshing drinks. Nothing beats enjoying food with your fellow mates! 🙂
Another element of culture that can’t be ignored when learning a new culture is the clothing. So, one of the many things I do when I miss home is I go and support Malaysian brands which are doing really well in the UK. For instance, last September, I went to support the famous clothing Malaysian brand, Mimpikita who made a breakthrough at the London Fashion Week. Seeing other fellow Malaysians at this kind of events is comforting and whatmore if they are successful and inspiring!
Being away from home means we have to take care of ourselves especially our health. It’s especially difficult to cope if we get sick or down with fever or cold. Sometimes, medicine just don’t work and it gets more difficult! Unfortunately, I was ill once and medicine didn’t work at the time. So, what I did was to try this traditional remedy that my mom always did when I was down with fever. It helped to reduce the temperature right away! To make this remedy, you’ll need tamarind paste, water and a face-towel. Mix the tamarind paste with the water and once done, dip the whole towel into the mixture and place the towel on your head. I normally sleep like this and I’ll wake up smiling in the morning! 🙂
The world is big, no, it’s enormous. So, it might be difficult to go and travel every country there is in the world. And coming to the University of Sussex gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of people from all over the world. It also allows me to learn and understand different cultures as students here come from diverse backgrounds. With students coming from all over the world to the University of Sussex, I am also able to try different kinds of food from different countries. I love the fact that it helps me to be more open-minded and understanding of these different cultures available on campus. One of the famous events organised by the university is One World Week where different events organised by different students’ societies and clubs. My favourites are the Holi and Kazakhstan concert! Experiencing and listening to the songs made me realise that they’re very unique and beautiful and without this kind of events, I wouldn’t have the chance to experience them!
It’s also a chance to volunteer for different events. I like that there are a lot of students’ involvement on campus. It definitely makes the campus more alive and more chances to go out there and try new things.
During summer, the university also organises trips and at events like this that you meet new people of different countries and cultures. During this trip that I went to, I met beautiful and friendly people from Peru and Japan. I also met another fellow Malaysian who was there with her brother (the person snapping this photo! :p ). During this whole trip, we talked, exchanged experiences and opinions, share stories about our countries and laughed. We also had lunch together!
There are also students who are on campus for the summer school and they organised events with food and songs to introduce their country. Last summer, I bumped into a group of Tunisians who organised such events. Listening to their songs, watching their dance performances and talking to them made me so happy, after a long day at work! They also shared their delicious food with us. I especially love their traditional attire, they’re so gorgeous!
The people that I’ve met a long the way are super awesome. It is not everyday that one gets to share different experiences, opinions, stories, cultures and food with people from all over the world and I believe that I’m superlucky to be able to get the opportunities. The lessons I’ve learnt so far has made me a better person and I hope to share this experience with everyone in Malaysia and others newly-made friends from all over the world. Being able to introduce my culture to others is an interesting experience, I believe. So, I sometimes share with the people I’ve met some souvenirs I’ve brought from home. One of them is the keychain from my hometown. I also get souvenirs from others like this unique and beautiful small pouch.
Finally, I learnt how to make new food of others’ cultures on the campus. For example, I helped a friend making kimchi and for the first time in my life, I get to eat kimchi. It’s very delicious that I finished eating my portion that night.
I think I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Sussex University as I experiences many different things and enjoyed the diverse culture Sussex has to offer. I can’t wait to try other things I haven’t tried. I think everyone should take this opportunity to enjoy this beautiful diverse community. 🙂
Zurina Khairuddin is a Malaysian student who is currently studying for a PhD in Linguistics.