Moving abroad as a student and leaving home for the first time can be tough. Furthermore, if you don’t know anyone at your new destination, forming a new group of friends can take time. In addition, we are toss in the language barriers and the different cultures. Anxiety started hitting me after I received my confirmation of placement and scholarship.
Before I packed my bags and moved to Aotearoa as a new student I really wanted to get connected with Malaysian students in New Zealand. I wanted to know my future peers before moving to New Zealand.
Thanks to Google and social media I contacted the Otago Malaysian Students’ Association President Cheah Seng Wai and Welfare Officer Phoebe Loh.
The Otago Malaysian Students’ Association, known as OMSA, is the largest and main club dedicated to taking care of all Malaysian students at the University of Otago.
Supporting the Malaysian students studying at the University of Otago.
My initial conversation via email with OMSA’s president cleared all the doubts and details I needed before my departure from Malaysia. Our FB chats, while I was in Singapore International Airport Terminal, gave me a warm welcoming feeling that I wouldn’t be alone after I landed in NZ. I was given all the necessary information (suitable sim card to call Malaysia, the cheapest mode of transportation to University etc). Essentially, Seng Wai and his team were absolutely ready to hold my hand after I landed here.
I arrived at my flat in the afternoon at 2.30 pm. I was surprised to find Seng Wai and another committee member at my doorstep at 3.30pm.
What an impressive effort OMSA makes in assisting Malaysian students in adapting their life at the University of Otago. My first day consisted of a small-guided tour around the university and grocery stores. For a few days, OMSA took care of me from supplying medicines to electric adapters and so on. I only have good words to say about the OMSA team.
The warm welcome has never ended. The Malaysian-themed annual activities organised by OMSA have given every Malaysian student a homely feeling.
There are 2 particular events to mention:
1. Malaysian Food Festival
Any Malaysian abroad will start craving all sort of Malaysian food, from Nasi Lemak to Roti Bom. Particularly, we badly miss the local delicacies found at the Ramadan bazaar.
OMSA’s Malaysian Food Festival during the Ramadhan month made us feel at home. It’s an awesome opportunity to both celebrate and to taste the delicacies in one place. There are some talented “amateur chefs” amongst the committee members and the ranges of dishes on offer were delicious.
2. Malam Malaysia
Malaysia’s multi-cultural and multi-racial heritage is showed through its diverse music and dances. Even though we listen to western music, local Malaysian music still has a place in our hearts, especially when you’re abroad. And attending cultural shows makes you feel proud of your home country. Certainly, Malam Malaysia is the event not to be missed at all… Malam Malaysia allows every Malaysian at the University of Otago experience firsthand the diverse cultural and artistic expressions found in the Malaysian community.