Half a world away, but Malaysia still where the heart is

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KUALA LUMPUR: There’s no better way to appreciate home than being thousands of miles away, and this rings true for two Malaysian women who have since made other countries their temporary abode.


For these two, it will never stop being a case of “dry bread is always better at home than roast meat abroad”.

To overcome the longing for home, Nor Azira Abdul Aziz, 39, who moved to Oslo, Norway, in 2011, said she and other Malaysians would look forward to gatherings where activities were organised with their respective families.

“For example, whenever the Norway Malaysia Association organises a National Day celebration, we will insist that everyone present wear the national attire to show patriotism and liven up the atmosphere.

“Such events help us get over our homesickness and need for connection as well as strengthen our relationship as we rarely get to meet each other,” the Ipoh, Perak native told Bernama.


A graduate of Universiti Teknologi Mara with a Diploma in Office Management and Technology, Nor Azira added that she missed the Malaysian spirit of unity, the mixture of various races, religions and cultures as well as the friendly, and harmonious atmosphere.

“Generally, Malaysians will always wear a smile on their face which is very heartwarming and they are friendly and perhaps this is because ours is a multi-racial country which makes us more open-minded.

“Unlike in Norway, they practice ‘janteloven’, which is an unspoken social norm that emphasises privacy, so we can’t be extra chatty especially about personal matters and it would appear odd if we were to smile at them,” said Nor Azira, who moved to follow her husband Faizul Akmal Ahmad Rodi, 43, who was offered a petroleum engineer job in the country.

Meanwhile, Norazryana Mat Dawi, 38, who migrated to Toronto, Canada, in 2019 to gain experience and seek better opportunities, admits that she really misses the delicious local food.

Norazryana who hails from Pontian, Johor, said as it was difficult to find Malaysian restaurants in Canada, she had to cook which required her to be creative and innovative in replacing the necessary ingredients which are not available there.

“Even if there is one (Malaysian restaurant), it is run by an individual on a small scale and it is not always open for orders. So, when I have the urge for a certain dish, I will try to cook with the limited ingredients.

“I often need to modify the recipe by replacing with ingredients that are available here. For example, you can’t find pucuk ubi here, so I use dandelion leaves to get the texture and flavour for my local vegetable salad,” said Norazryana who also misses the night life in Malaysia, which is more happening than in Canada.

The Universiti Teknologi Malaysia PhD graduate said she would buy all the ingredients that are hardly found abroad such as belacan, anchovies and salted fish, when she has the opportunity to return home.

Norazryana, who is a permanent resident in Canada, said the biggest challenge when moving to a new country was having to adapt to a different way of life.

“However, I was able to deal with the situation as I believe ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’, so where possible, I will try to follow the traditions and customs,” said Norazryana, who has now moved temporarily to the Czech Republic to follow her husband, Hamidreza Namazi, 39, who was offered a university researcher position there.



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