Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kuala Lumpur

posted by Ron. 

Kuala Lumpur is a big and busy city. This video does a great job of showing just that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Made It Through

Written by: Megan

So, it is already September of 2012, and I have started my second year of teaching at ISKL;  it isn't until now that I feel ready to reflect on my first year in Kuala Lumpur.

When first arriving, I was smacked by so many new sights, sounds, and smells that it was difficult to really take it all in.  I can vividly remember the van driving us from Kuala Lumpur airport to the Renaissance hotel (where all new teachers are housed for 10 days).  I was exhausted after traveling for over 20 hours, while 5 months pregnant and with a 3 year old.  The cars looked different; the trees looked different; the people were different, and most nerve-racking was how completely different the landscape and housing looked.

Slums outside of KL
The airport is an hour's drive from KL.  In this time, we got to see a huge disparity between the shanty houses made of pieces of aluminum thrown together and huge blocks of low-income apartments, versus a booming city with beautiful new high rises and suburbs of beautiful homes (homes that look nothing like homes in the U.S.).  Of course, I could only focus on the really poor parts - the areas that I had only seen on television or National Geographic magazine.  I still get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about that drive.  We were here - in a country far different from our home, amongst a culture we really didn't know much about.  What would it be like to live in a Muslim country?  Are the people going to be nice?  Will they accept us?  How are we going to get around?  Where are we going to live?  Will we be safe?  Will my children like it here?  Will I find a good doctor and hospital to deliver Brady? Where is the darn grocery store?!

It was NOT an easy transition.  It was a few weeks after we were here when Ron admitted to me that on the second day at the hotel, he actually contemplated putting us on a plane and heading back to the U.S.  Well, I can honestly say that we are so glad we stuck it out...

As the year progressed, we became more accustomed to the differences here.  We learned how things actually get done (which is neither fast nor efficient).  We learned how to properly craft our sentences so people could understand us:  Where's the toilet?  We would like this food for take away.  Can I get a beef burger?  Where is the queue? ... and we found that most questions can simply be answered with "Can" or "Cannot" - without any further explanation :)     We learned our way around, made our house a home, and continued to develop strong friendships with our coworkers.

Malaysia is a beautiful country with beautiful people.  We have felt so welcomed and accepted by both the Malaysian people and the expat community.  Although travel is tough with little ones, we have already gotten to see several areas of Malaysia and Phuket, Thailand - where all of the people we've encountered have been nothing but helpful, smiling, and wanting to touch, hold, and take pictures with our children.

Working at ISKL has been the hardest, yet most rewarding experience of our professional career. This is a rigorous school with high standards for both teachers and students.  Teachers work, work, and then work some more.  We are often stressed out and tired, but all the while we are happy to be a part of such an excellent educational community.  Our fellow teachers push us to be our best at all times, and our administrators support us.  We are lucky to be at ISKL.

I have to say though, going home this past summer was one of the hardest things I've done in my entire life.  This is only because the whole time I was there, I knew that once again we'd be leaving our friends and family to hop on an incredibly long plane ride and return to this foreign land that has started to become our home.  We love our experience here, but we also know that we are blessed with so many people who love and support us in the U.S.  We know we aren't 'forever expats' - we are just 'temporary expats.'  Once we feel we've reached the goals we gave ourselves when first beginning this journey, we will return home.

For now though, starting the second year in KL and at ISKL is SO MUCH BETTER than when we first arrived.  Our home was here waiting for us, and Caden was ecstatic to see the friends he has made and begin school at the Melawati campus.  We have established friendships with people we can turn to when we need help or just want to chat.  We know how to get places and how to avoid places.  We know which grocery stores we like, which restaurants/stalls have the best food, and how to drive on the left side while motor bikes are whizzing past us.

I still can't really believe that not only do I live and work in south-east Asia, but I even gave birth to Brady here.  This is something I really never dreamed I would do, but I am so glad it fell into place. Who knew teachers could live this kind of life?!

There is a quote I love and have tried to live by for years now.  It is partly what has gotten me here today:

'Never give up an opportunity to become a more interesting person.' -Anonymous

I think I can say that I am working on it :)

Caden's 1st day of Prep Junior (Preschool)
We won't be finding our name here :)

Although we love Malaysia....
The United States will always be our home

Fun with friends this summer :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Our School

posted by Ron. 

Only 4 more school days and our first year will be complete. It was a roller coaster year to say the least. Megan and I both feel incredibly fortunate to work at such an amazing school. Here is a video that gives a little taste of where we work:

Friday, April 20, 2012

KDE Loop in Taman TAR (our neighborhood)

posted by Ron. 

I took some video today while driving around with Megan in our neighborhood. I sometimes will run around this loop, and Caden and I like to drive on it to look at the monkeys.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Feelin the Love and Caden's becoming Malaysian :)

posted by Megan

Feelin the Love

So, a few posts back, I was ranting about the frustations of everyone wanting to touch and take pictures with Caden here.  Today, I'm going to take the opposite route completely...

As everyone must know by now, Brady took a turn for the worse while on vacation in Penang.  We ended up in the hospital overnight.  Well, that ordeal really truly opened my eyes to how caring so many people are here in Malaysia.  Here are some specifics that we encountered:

-The hotel doctor personally called a pediatrician (late at night) and asked him to meet us at the ER
-The doctor then got us a taxi
-While getting into the taxi, the hotel manager gave me his card and said to call him personally if we needed anything at all
-The taxi driver waited at the hospital for us for 2 hours - free of charge - to be sure Caden and I got back to the hotel safely
-The same taxi driver gave me his card and said to call at anytime, and he'd be at the hotel to bring us back to the hospital (and he was)
-the entire hotel staff, including the housekeepers, kept asking how Brady was doing - truly concerned
-the hotel made up a fruit basket and card to send to the hospital for us

Everyone was so willing to help and make sure we felt safe during this ordeal that I was so thankful for the generosity.

Even before Brady got sick I was finding myself finally used to everyone wanting to touch and talk to my boys.  I even let the workers at a local restaurant/stall hold Brady so that Ron and I could eat at the same time!  It was great!  Plus, at one point about 10 girls on the beach were gushing over/touching/taking pictures with Caden, and I didn't get the same anxious feeling I used to get.
Malaysian man holding Brady while we eat 
I think it all comes down to what I was accustomed to in the States, and I just had to get used to things here.  In the States people are just so afraid to show affection toward stranger's children because of the possibility that it might be taken the wrong way.  It's sad really.  I mean just as many men love to talk to and touch Caden and Brady's cheeks, hands, or hair here as women, and I have learned to be ok with it.  They truly just love kids, and that is a wonderful thing.  Since being here, and I believe due to all the positive attention, Caden has really come out of his shell.  He is no longer afraid to talk to most strangers (when he's with Mommy and Daddy).  It's nice to see him converse with people here...  and speaking of Caden...

Caden's becoming Malaysian

Caden is definitely picking up on the gestures and language used here.  Now, unfortunately he only knows a few Malay words since English is so widely spoken, but since it is British english, he is picking up on that for sure.  Here are a few things Caden says/does that are because of living here:

He points with his thumb, never his "pointer" finger

He says in Bahasa Malay... Terima Kasih (thank you), Sama-Sama (you're welcome), Selamat Pagi (good morning), Sedap (nice/yum)

He uses British English like.... lift, trolley, que, air con for air conditioner, and holiday

He talks about durian, mangoes, monkeys, tupai, and geckos

He has never questioned why women are fully covered or why he hears a call to prayer 5 times a day - that's just a part of his life here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Have To Share...

I just have to take a moment to share my new favorite pictures as of late.  I'm now 30; I'm living in Malaysia, and I have two beautiful boys.  Thanks to my friend Amanda, I have some great pictures of them!  They are my everything......

Amanda and I out on "The Changkat" in KL for my 30th

Here is a beautiful picture taken by my friend Kris Kiernan at the KL Bird Park:

Muslim woman and child

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Amazing Opportunities

posted by Ron.

This is the beautiful resort we are staying at in July when we visit Brunei.

 After our 30 hour hellish excursion to fly to Malaysia last July, we have not yet been back on a plane. We are going to put that grounded streak to an end soon. One of the best things about living this international teaching life is the opportunities it provides to travel and see the world. Our location in KL is great in the sense that so many amazing places are just a short flight away.

We have 3 trips planned in the next few months. For spring break in March we are going to go to Penang, Malaysia. Penang is small island that is off of Malaysia's northwest coast. A few days after our last day of school in June, we are flying to Bali, Indonesia. A couple of weeks later we will be visiting the really small country of Brunei, which is located on the island of Borneo. All 3 places look to be a little slice of paradise. 

I never thought that I would go to any of these places in my life, much less all 3 of them in a 4 month span. Our life has certainly changed in 1 year's time. It's becoming more and more apparent that you can't always predict where life will take you. We are really enjoying the wild ride

Aerial view of Penang

Hopefully we will get to eventually see several of these places on this map.
We are particularly excited about our trip to Bali in June.