Angela Fisher Say hello to:

Expatriate Lifestyle - - December Just Landed - In­ter­view by Karin Chan

What brought you to Malaysia?

I was of­fered an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to be one of the found­ing teach­ers and lead­ers of the brand new GEMS In­ter­na­tional School in Trop­i­cana Metropark, Subang Jaya. So af­ter en­sur­ing I could make the move while still sup­port­ing my youngest chil­dren at uni­ver­sity, I ac­cepted the po­si­tion and moved to Malaysia a few years ear­lier than in­tended.

How did you pre­pare for the move?

A lot of en­ergy went into en­sur­ing that my chil­dren were fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally pre­pared for mum and dad to pack up and move an­other 6,000km fur­ther east. Then came the pack­ing up and the in­au­gu­ral trip to Malaysia in April to find a new home. This was ex­cit­ing yet daunt­ing as none of our chil­dren would be join­ing us this time, so we did not need the usual five-bed­room villa.

Tell us some­thing you now know about Malaysia that you didn’t be­fore.

Im­port taxes are hugely ex­pen­sive. Buy lo­cally.

Have you en­coun­tered any strange cul­tural cus­toms here?

Get­ting a hair­cut as a Euro­pean ex­pa­tri­ate has al­ways been a chal­lenge for me. Stylists are usu­ally trained to work with lo­cal hair types, and Euro­pean hair can be es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to man­age. I found a sa­lon and they asked me if I wanted my hair washed, to which I an­swered yes.

Ex­pect­ing to be shown a wash basin and chair, I ex­pe­ri­enced the most lux­u­ri­ous hair wash and head mas­sage whilst still sit­ting in the stylist’s chair!

Any tips for fel­low ex­pats to Asia?

The Malaysian cli­mate is much fresher and cleaner than the Mid­dle East. You can open your win­dows and breathe clean, sand-free, fresh air. Ev­ery day. You are able to sit out­doors with­out fear of stand­ing up with a tell-tale sandy patch on your bot­tom. The pay­back is the hu­mid­ity. Learn to em­brace it and en­joy the health ben­e­fits of a year­round sauna.

What do you think is im­por­tant for your fel­low ex­pats to bring from home?

For women, my ad­vice would be to buy your shoes in Europe or the USA and bring them with you. Euro­pean and Amer­i­can shapes and sizes are dif­fi­cult to find and Asian shoes are man­u­fac­tured for the Asian fe­male: petite. Your feet will swell with the hu­mid­ity, so buy for com­fort and not style.

For men (and women) who fol­low the English Pre­mier League, my ad­vice is to be pre­pared for some late night week­end beers if your thing is to watch the live matches dur­ing the sea­son.

Learnt any use­ful Malaysian words?

The first word I learnt was ‘keluar’ when try­ing to nav­i­gate my way out of an un­der­ground carpark. Work­ing with teenagers, I usu­ally get to learn a few ‘less so­cially ap­pro­pri­ate’ words pretty early on. How­ever, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant lack of progress in this area at my cur­rent school. Malaysian stu­dents must clearly have im­mac­u­late so­cial eti­quette... EL

Na­tion­al­ity: Bri­tish Oc­cu­pa­tion: Head of Aca­demics/di­rec­tor of Sci­ence at GEMS In­ter­na­tional School, Subang Jaya In Malaysia since: July 2017

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