I am originally from Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is located on Borneo Island. This idyllic town has only a population of 220,000. So I will consider myself as a small town boy. I finished my primary and secondary school education in Miri and I moved to Kuala Lumpur (which is the capital of Malaysia) to study A-levels in 2012.
Fun fact: Borneo Island is the third largest island in the world! And the largest in Asia!
Another fun fact: Miri is located 45 minutes drive away from Brunei, which is another tiny country.
I have been living in Melbourne since 2015 and I’m now a 3rd-year medical student at Monash University. Melbourne is a superb city and it was ranked as the most livable city in the world for six consecutive years! Such privilege to call this place my new home!
5.5 I would say.
Growing up in Malaysia, I am sort of obliged to speak multiple languages. My mother tongue is Mandarin.
But all my cousins speak Teochew (which is a dialect in China) so I couldn’t understand what they are talking about. I remember running back home crying and complaining to my mum that no one wants to play with me. So I had to learn Teochew.
In primary school, we are obliged to learn 3 languages, which are Mandarin, English and Malay. Malay was crucial due to the large Malay community in Miri. As people normally speak Mandarin and Malay in Miri, spoken English was not emphasised at all. Even if I got flying colours in exams back in school, I couldn’t form a full sentence in English. Being able to hold a decent conversation in English only comes in when I was 17 or 18, which is when I go to Kuala Lumpur to study A-levels, a pre-university qualification. That's when I learn Cantonese.
I started learning French and Japanese when I came to Melbourne.
In terms of competency:
Confident: Mandarin, English, Teochew, Malay
Enough to hold a conversation: French, Cantonese
Can barely order: Japanese
I am 22 years old this year (2017).
I know. I get this a lot. Yes, I am a full-time medical student but I still travel.
I am very privileged to be a scholarship recipient of my country. That takes a lot of burdens away from my parents’ and my shoulder.
When I am studying, I try to save as much as I can. This money will go into my vacation coffer so that I can travel during my break.
Being a poor student, I have to gather as many tips as possible so that I can stretch my dinero as far as I can. I have written up a lot of guides about travel tips and hacks here.
University is tough. In medicine, we are ranked so everyone is super duper competitive. I have to study consistently not only to pass but to also catch up on all the latest information on medicine.
But we have 3 months off for summer holiday and 3 weeks off for winter holiday. So I make use of this period of time to travel.
This is probably the hardest question in this FAQ. I feel like all the other countries will feel sad if I didn’t choose them to be my favourite. Lemme put them into different categories.
Best food: If I can’t choose Malaysia, then it would be Vietnam.
Best landscape: Iran
Best people: Iran
Best culture shock: Japan
Best party: Thailand
Best value: Hungary