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Salmi and I, dinner in Aceh.
Salmi and I, dinner in Aceh.
When I began the process of applying to study abroad in 2013, I had no idea that it would take as long as it did. Researching schools, meeting weekly with professors, heads of departments, and advisers, filling out multiple applications, interviews, and alas, costs. Picking the correct schools was tedious. I was a self-sufficient student, so I had to be careful that wherever I ended up, I would still be capable of supporting myself. Once accepted, it’s as exciting as it gets and the process continued. Ensuring my finances would be taken care of, packing my home and my bags, calling banks, quitting work, and of course, saying my goodbyes. I’d give this whole preparation period 4-6 months to complete.

Want to know where I went?
It was pretty cool…
I was accepted into the Universiti of Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Perak Malaysia. I was the first student from my college to attend this school, and the idea of it was thrilling! As a scholar of Cultural Anthropology the idea of attending school is not just a culturally diverse and unique country, but a Muslim country at that- was the best thing I could have done for my education and lifelong experiences. 

I wrote a blog during my travels and though it’s old and of a young mind, I tried to be honest and clear about my feelings and experience in Malaysia. Here is an excerpt from my blog: 
I gained the utmost respect for Buddhism in Thailand, and Hinduism while in India and Nepal. Now, my respect for Islam is just as vibrant. As I live these days in Malaysia, I experience exactly what we all know deep down inside- Every culture has its bad and good, every culture lives its lives for happiness, and honorable death and every culture loves its neighbor and respects its elders. Now more than ever I am saddened by those who know little about the world, but can so easily judge what they do not understand and ultimately fear. We’ve all heard it a million times, it’s important to not fear what you do not know. My one preaching to you all, avoid criticizing what you cannot consider your own to criticize.

Feel free to read more of my blog here, though keep in mind that this was written over 10 years ago and the organization of WordPress (and me) was not quite as lovely as our travel stories here on the Adventure Life site!

I spent over a year living, breathing, and adapting to life in Malaysia. I found so much beauty. And for the first time in my life was able to focus on the art and culture of my surroundings without the distractions of home. I learned so much about myself and so much about the world around us, its people, and how we care for one another. During my time abroad, I was lucky to spend time in Aceh and Yogjakarta (Indonesia), Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, and a return trip to Thailand. 

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