A blond girl wearing a striped shirt and glasses is standing under a tree in front of a river

Jump into the Unknown – Studying in Malaysia

Traveling with a curious mind

Going abroad can have a lasting impact on person’s life that will shape their whole future and open a vast array of new possibilities. As 2017 is our 10th year of operations, we have been interviewing former Asia Exchange students to ask where has life taken them, and inviting them to share their experiences with us. This time we are catching up with Iida who spent a memorable semester in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia five years ago, in 2012.

A blond girl wearing a striped shirt and glasses is standing under a tree in front of a river. This is Iida, who was our exchange student 5 years ago. Let’s find out where she is now!

Jump into the Unknown

Iida was not a complete stranger to Asian countries since she had already traveled in China, Indonesia, and Thailand – but Malaysia was still an unknown territory to her. She had always been intrigued by Asia and wanted to challenge herself to explore the huge continent even further, so studying in Malaysia was an obvious choice. Asia Exchange’s partner university, Universiti Putra Malaysia, was very well ranked internationally as well, which only helped to cement her decision.

There are lessons to be learned in every foreign culture and sometimes the teachings you take homestay with you forever. Iida acquired new and useful knowledge every day during her exchange, but an open mind is needed to fully appreciate foreign cultures, and to learn from the differences. The experience can truly enrich your perspective, and maybe you will learn that sometimes there is no right or wrong way of doing things.

Aerial photo of a white beach with green trees and blue water with people in Malaysia. Many associate Malaysia with modern buildings, but you can find amazing beaches there too! Photo by Fahrul Azmi / CC BY

We do not always even realize how deeply rooted our culture is in us all before we get to know a culture completely different from our own. This only makes intercultural encounters more rewarding and is also the reason why Iida loves working in an international environment. In the end, she discovered that despite the cultural differences, we as human beings have much more in common than one would think.

Beginning of a Life-Long Adventure

The study abroad did not come without its challenges, as it was Iida’s first time living abroad alone. Uprooting yourself from your home and moving to a new country can be a scary decision but it will also bring new and exciting opportunities. After the initial culture shock, Iida noticed that she was adapting quickly to the new environment and could start enjoying everything that Malaysia had to offer.

Before, she was unsure whether she could actually live abroad on her own but the study abroad experience confirmed that she is more than capable, and sparked the desire to live and work abroad in the future as well. If you never get out of your comfort zone, you will never exceed your expectations and find out new insights about yourself.

Life After Malaysia

Even though Iida’s time in Asia is now only a memory, the time spent in Malaysia still lives in her heart to this day. She feels a special connection with people who have also lived in Asia and loves exchanging stories with others. She might not be living in Asia anymore, but the influence still shows in her everyday life. Iida says that she loves Asian flavors and gets very inspired by the different cuisines of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

After the study abroad semester, Iida came back to Finland to finish her bachelor’s degree, but she did not stay in Finland for long. In 2014 she moved to Germany to do an internship for a wine distributor, and from there she moved to the countryside of France to do another internship for a winery. After the second internship, she felt she was still not quite ready to go back to Finland, and decided to start a master’s degree in Toulouse, France.

Currently, Iida is living in Amsterdam and working in digital marketing for an online travel agency called TravelBird. There she has the opportunity to inspire others and help them to embark on their own adventure. And who knows which corner of the world Iida will end up next!

It is of course impossible to predict the future, but I look forward to living in new cities in the future as well. I hope there are still a couple of adventures waiting for me!

We are sure there will be! Thank you for taking part on our Where are they now -article series Iida – we wish you wonderful and sunny spring days in Amsterdam! 

KL is the ultimate place for any student who wants to live in an exciting metropolis with countless admirable sights.

Find out more about studying abroad in Malaysia

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.