From Malaysia to Korea and back

December 2, 2010 3 comments

LeX is a Malaysian university student who recently returned from a study exchange in Korea. Here he explains some of the differences he noticed between Malaysian and Korean culture and confirms that Malaysian food is really as good as everyone says!

First, please tell us something about yourself

Hi, I am Tan Yih Liang (陈奕良/단익량 – Chinese/Korean), my nickname is LeX.

lex-in-snowI am Malaysian Chinese and my parents too. I was born in a small town called Butterworth which is located in the state of Penang. I live in a very average family.

My life getting into another transition after I graduated from High School, I was admitted to a Pre-University College in another state and then straight away admitted into University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. During my junior year in University, I was awarded ASEAN scholarship to participate in Student Exchange program in South Korea for a year! And now, I am back in Malaysia to finish my study in the university. Finally, I will graduate at the end of this year very soon!

Apart from this, usually I like to mix around with my friends, meeting new people out of the campus and joining outdoor activities. I enjoying meeting different kind of people no matter who they are, learn from them and share ideas with them. Well, actually I have many Malay, Indian, and international friends!

What languages do you speak?

My mother tongue is Mandarin, and I can speak many languages like Chinese dialect (Cantonese, Hokkien), Malay, basic Korean which I learned in South Korea and of course English! I am interested in learning Spanish after I have been to Argentina!

I know that you studied in South Korea.. Why did you decide to go there?

Yeah, you are absolutely right! I went there for study.

Well, there are many reasons behind the decision to go to South Korea. South Korea is a well known country that advances in Information & Communication Technology especially in telecommunication industry like Samsung and LG. Since it is my interest area and is related to my major! So, I have no reasons why not South Korea?

Another reason is the influence of Korean Drama and Korean Pop (Kpop)! Since last decade, Korean dramas and music started to show in National TV channels. The heat of Korean Drama was tremendous until even you can hear all the old folks talk about it!! Actually, the drama watcher can get to know and experience the Korean culture in the Korean Drama through the story and the acting! I am also enjoying the Korean Drama very much. It has created my interest to know more about Korean culture! So, this make another strong reason that why not goes to Korea to experience it by myself! Take the challenge!

What was the biggest difference between life in Malaysia and life in Korea?

The biggest difference? Of course! Culture and language are the biggest difference! However, one more thing that I would like to stress is the fast-paced culture! Call “Pali Pali Culture”. My life became very fast! Some kind of roller coaster life! For example, when I walk in the subway station or on the street of city hall, everyone walk very fast! Is like everyone is rushing! But I am not! For that reason, I have to walk faster so that I wouldn’t block their way. In class, professor gave a big assignment with a very tight deadline! I am quite surprised but Korean students were never surprised about it. So, I believe the fast-paced culture made South Korea one of the developed countries in the world. Well! Actually I am still in the habit of fast pace culture even after moving back to Malaysia and the culture really make me an efficient person!

What was the most unexpected thing about Korea?

The seniority based culture surprise me very much! When any Korean getting to know me, first they will ask what is my name then later! How old are you! Is that matter? In Korea, that’s really a big matter because even in Korean language itself, they have formal, polite and informal honorific form as to show the respect and relationship. They need to check whether you are older or younger. If you are older, they will talk to you politely. If friends, they will talk to you casually. As a foreign student, sometimes I misused the proper honorific form when in the conversation with Professor, that one can be forgiven and my Korean friends always keep reminding me about the proper words. Until now, even in Malaysia, I am very conscious in any words come out from my mouth when I talk to elderly people. I have to say that, this culture is really special!

Now that you are back in Malaysia what are your plans?

After I graduated from University, I plan to pursue postgraduate study and expanding my website “LeX Paradise”. If there are opportunities, I would like to go back to South Korea or other countries in Europe or America for study. If not, my home country will be the best place ever!

lex-and-friends

What is your favourite thing about Malaysia?

Talking about favourite thing in Malaysia! First word that came to my mind is FOOD! Malaysia is a food paradise! Since Malaysia is a multi racial country, the combination of cultures, tastes and recipes made Malaysian food very unique and special! During the time that I was not in the country, I miss MALAYSIAN FOOD very much! Feel like dying sometime! Hahaha!

LeX is a Malaysian University student who became world travel addicted after being in South Korea for some time. He share his travelling experiences, events and contests in LeX Paradise.

About the author

Lucy (Liz) Chatburn
Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.
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3 Comments

  • Nice post about Lex. The Pali Pali culture sounds hectic but I bet it was nice to come back to the food!

  • Thanks Jason!
    You are absolutely right about it! But now I am miss Korean food!

  • Kyle_MRF

    can anyone from any university be eligible for the ASEAN exchange scholarship, or does it apply to certain universities?…