Culture Shock in Malaysia

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Even the most seasoned expat knows that culture shock is a very real concern, particularly for those travelling with their family. While Malaysia is a country offering a range of modern conveniences, there will be aspects of your new life that may take some getting used to. Perhaps the biggest aspect of a new life in Malaysia is religion.

Although Malaysia does not have only one official state religion, almost half of the population practice Islam. This will obviously impact on everyday life; sometimes in small ways such as hearing the pre-dawn call to prayer at the local mosque, or in more significant ways, such as experiencing stares and discrimination, particularly when wearing slightly more revealing clothing. Malaysia has a diverse range of immigrants and ethnic populations, which means that everyone is different, and most people are used to dealing with people from very different cultural backgrounds.

Malaysian cuisine reflects its diverse cultural heritage. Most food will seem familiar to those coming from Western countries, and perhaps the biggest culture shock hurdle to overcome will be dealing with the range of choice available on a day-to-day basis.

Two other aspects of life in Malaysia that expats will face are the language barrier and getting used to the country's hot and humid equatorial climate. Malaysia’s official language is Bahasa Malaysia. It is written in both Latin and Arabic script. English and Manglish, and English based creole, are widely used, which does ease the transition into a new environment.

The climate in Malaysia is ideal for a beach holiday or a getaway; however, living and working in the humidity and heat can be draining. Expats moving to Malaysia need to take note of the potential diseases that are prevalent in Malaysia, such as dengue fever. It is important to allow time for your body to acclimatise to the weather.

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