Wednesday, February 9, 2011

lain macam punya culture shock

In Malaysia, the term 'culture shock' is often associated with people who has led a very sheltered life and was then exposed to hedonism at its best.

Oh yes, i have been shocked by cultures before.

I was 12 and it was my first day in high school. I did not understand the term 'couple'. My knowledge in music was non-existant. I could barely converse in English and i did not know the first rule of socializing.

Yeah, i was THAT naive.

Coming from a different primary school than most of the kids there, i was hoping i could start fresh and not be the number one target of the bullies. (in primary school, i was given a hard time for not keeping up with the latest gossip of 'Nsync and not knowing what TLC stands for)

No such luck.

As i walked in with my parents on the Orientation Day, students who passed us by kept wishing my parents 'Good morning, sir' 'Good afternoon Madam'. Yeah. And my parents were beaming, everyone in the school is so polite! And they speak such fluent English! Obviously they would be a great influence to me.

On Monday, as i stood by myself in the middle of the huge assembly area, I could see a bunch of Form Fivers hugging each other, catching up on each other's end-of-the-year vacation. I saw a good looking guy embracing a super model lookalike tightly, kissing her on the cheeks, right in front of the row of schoolteachers.

I dont know what i was expecting. Perhaps from the stories Ive heard about other schools, i half-guessed that one of the teachers would walk to them and smack them on the head for 'inappropriate behaviour'. Nobody seemed to care.

A few weeks into the semester, a gossip was going round, saying that one of the girls in the next class has proudly announced that she was finger-effed (please pardon the language, this is just for the sake of telling the story) by another classmate.

And i didnt know the F word. I didnt understand the concept. I didnt know what to make out of that piece of rumour flying about.

Almost every weekend, i would hear about some party somebody's throwing. But i was never invited, so it was never my concern. Heck, even if i was, my parents would not have allowed me to attend anything that involves dirty dancing at that tender age.

There were all kinds of people. 15 year old boys who drove Skyline to school, trying to provoke the seniors to race him. There were people making out in classrooms after school (so u really had to be careful upon entering any deserted rooms after hours). There were cliques like the ones you see in Hollywood movies depicting a typical American school. There were the handball team who went to tournaments dolled from top-to-toe in complete, matching Nike baby-Ts, pants and shoes (it seemed then as if Nike was the main sponsor for our team).

The opponent team often mocked our school with statements like 'ek eleh, ni nak main handball ke nak pergi model ni?' hahahahahah.

I vividly remember a particular Bahasa Malaysia class. The teacher was trying to explain 'kabus' but nobody seemed to understand what the word meant. Eventually, she went 'dont you guys know what fog is? Haaaa, that is what kabus means!' It was entertaining! All this while, ive been hearing about English teachers who has had to teach in Malay, and there i was, sitting in the midst of a reversed situation.

I was in the Entrepeneur Club, and there was this one project that we worked on where we make bracelets and sold them to raise money for the club. One time, i lost my pliers and couldnt complete a particular bracelet on time. The girl who ordered the bracelet then confronted me asking for the bracelet. I explained the situation to her, to which she practically shouted (in front of the entire class),

"Bitch!! I dont care if your pliers are missing! My bracelet was supposed to be done by now! Are you stupid, bitch?? Next time, if you cant follow through, dont attempt to start a business in the first place!!"

I was traumatized by that particular episode for years. These days, I could just laugh about it along with the person who terrorized me but back then, it was a bleak memory that petrified me to no ends.

Despite ALL of the stories i've just told you (and a lot more that i havent), i loved the school from the core of my heart. Apart from the random bitchiness, they were mostly pleasant people who was horrifyingly intelligent. A friend of mine, at the age of 13 wrote to the publisher of countless History books, pointing out facts and details that they have gotten wrong. She was in love with the Renaissance era and was reading Russian literature (she even tried to get me to read them too but it was a tad bit too heavy for me back then)

They were in general, open to opinions and they respect other people's views of the world. Heated discussions are inevitable but at the end of the day, you learn that you don't necessarily have to be right all the time. It is when you do not have any opinions that it becomes Hades for you.

All in all, being there gave me a wider perspective of life. It taught me to stand up to those who put me down and to have my own voice in stating opinions. I was taught to not be too much of an orthodox when it comes to assessing situations and that everyone is different in their own ways and the least you can do is respect that and simply agree to disagree.

Life in university was an even bigger shock for me. But lets save that story for another day, shall we? Penat lah type.


ezral Sya said...


by Baizulikha said...

I am expecting a lot of people who are not accustomed to your school culture to be shocked here


You know what babe, when I was growing up I pun macam ada this confusion of cultures, kat sekolah lain kat rumah lain

But I guess having to experience different environment at such age made us understand people more now, kan? We can point out exactly why certain people behave this way, that way

I am glad. :)

Jo Qusary said...

Funny... that reminded me of a school I went to when I was in Form 4. Got transferred to a lot schools around the country when I was young.

Merissa K. said...

Sya :
hahhaa. cuba teka! :)

Ika :
like they say, always look out for the light at the end of the tunnel. now that ive seen the best and the worst of both worlds, i figure it's gonna be easier fitting in without selling out my life principles. hahahha.

Jo :
goodness! ntah ntah it's the same school that we're talking about! hahahah

Anonymous said...
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amywammy said...


I didn't bully you back in primary cause you didn't know about N Sync and stuff. I bullied you cause you were that annoying awkward kid that tags along EVERYWHERE we go. And you're flat. Nowww....

Now, I love you. And you're not flat anymore. (Tahniah!)

Oh, and your highschool was our nemesis back then. Kinda like "DU vs DJ" thing, ey? Team korang lembik ahh! I was happy when we beat those "rich kids" in handball AND football. Our comment back then was "Hmmpphh, harap je muka jambu, tapi bawak bola cam bapok". HAHA, cam I je yang main.

Oh, tonight I met your "ex" and we ended up talking bout you=P

Merissa K. said...

hahahahahahhahahahaahhaha. ok serius gelak panjang baca comment ni.

i read it when you first logged in as aida, and i was like 'who the heck is aida yang panggil i tasha sekarang?'

and then i teringat nama ur sister aida. haahhahaha. but i was waiting to be proven right, sebab malu lah kalau salah. LOL.

that was one of the reasons tu. like i said, zero social skill siot. hahahahahahaha. tapi Nsync and TLC tu WAS also one of the reasons i was bullied. not by you lah tapi nya. hehe.

i know, the team sucked. nak harapkan menang pun, setakat golf blh la. hahaha. bajet high class. LOL LOL.

and yesss. the team got that a lot. not that i care that much since i was never a part of the sports team anyway (dah la loser, tak athletic pulak tu hish aku ni hahaha)


emy said...

I like the 'speak fluent english' culture. tapi, baru lower form da pandai bitch, finger f, wth!

how do i send my prince charming over there. not good, not good.

GGK said...

i wear songkok at school tingkatan 1 - 3 .. bapak cikgu kelas. LOL you can imagine the rest.

zoe said...

bigger shocK? im waiting for the next entry! :)