Trying to make sense of it all…

I think it’s time I be truly honest on this blog. I’ve never spoke of my current trials or how hard it has been for me these past few months because well, family back at home read this and I didn’t want them to worry unnecessarily. Perhaps it wasn’t really a good move to begin with considering how I do rant about my really uncomfortable situation often enough to friends and Nil.

Le sigh…

It’s been six months since I joined the Malaysian diaspora and become one of those people who so-called left home for “greener” pastures. Yes, it was around this time in February that I made the move to join my foreigner of a husband working in foreign country. Unlike the other regular M’sian expats, I moved to a country where I don’t speak the language, and one that only become a full member of the UN in 2002.

When it dawned on my family that I was leaving, I could sense that while many were happy for me, there was that twinge of envy at mine being able to leave a place they would gladly label as turbulent and fraught with much racial tension. It doesn’t help that there are many parties in Malaysia who see no qualm in telling us Chinese to go back to where we came from; never mind that we come from Malaysia.

Anyway, “greener” pastures, you say? Call me sadistic but reading a new friend’s entry about her own experiences as an educated expat from an Asian country made me feel some form of relief and crazy gladness. I’m not alone, I like to think. While she speaks mostly of her encounter with other Filipinos, my story probably revolves more around integrating into the community here – in terms of employment mostly. Granted that I’ve just been here for six months, I still find it hard to adjust to the fact that looking for a job suddenly isn’t so easy anymore.

There is just something about Swiss companies/people in general – even if the job requires you to converse only in English, a lack of fluent French can prove to be a downfall. I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy when I read about another Malaysian’s success at securing a job in Italy so quickly upon her arrival in the country here. In my case, it has taken me nearly 20 applications, excluding the nine that I’m about to send out tomorrow – and six months AND still, I’m no where close to securing an interview much or less a job. This coupled with rules tied to the permit that I currently hold…well, things aren’t so green really.

Jay-Ann, that new friend of mine, shares her ups and downs very candidly and honestly in her blog. Seriously we have so many things in common that you can almost find it unbelievable – considering that we have never met until my first French class last week. Reading her post and many others brings a twang of sadness; sometimes I think I lack the conviction which I so vehemently advise others to undertake.

I can’t help but feel that I have a love-hate relationship with this country. Sometimes I wonder if the problem lies with me and my qualifications, if it’s a lack of faith that I have or simply that the system isn’t just so simple anymore. The lack of friends, the lack of unemployment…things have become somewhat challenging. I can’t really say for sure that I’m homesick – naturally I miss my family and friends; it’s not so much the feeling of homesickness in me but more of the wanting and longing to be whole again, to not carry out the burden of having a double identity, to not feel as if your life is just limited to life in the little apartment that you are in control over…

Making friends with the neighbours is out of the norm in these parts – mine just keep themselves, the young ones that is; the elderly are more generous with their greetings and smiles but it’s like nothing back at home. My mum did ask what I do all day cooped up in my apartment; while I did answer that there was always something to do, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel the same way she must have felt when she arrived in June for a visit.

The transition from having a career to being a femme au foyer isn’t going so smoothly actually…and here I am, six months on and still trying to make a sense of things… Maybe I ought to drown myself in good old-fashioned pumpkin pie – it’s the season for it anyway…

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  1. hey mei, don’t be too hard on yourself. i think anyone who has made the move to join a partner in a country where they don’t speak the language will tell you you are doing very well for yourself already! the transition IS hard, and IS slow, unfortunately. your language classes must be a great place to meet people, aside from that how about some knitting or crafting groups? the language barrier is hard to cross, but you never know who you will meet, and a common interest always helps. in the meantime be brave and enjoy your quiet you time!

  2. I think you shouldn’t worry too much about fitting in. These sort of things takes time, right? Afterall, its not like you’re not ding anything to improve the situation.. You are taking french classes and learning more about the new environment. However, reading your thoughts did make me a little worried. I’m planning to move to another country (not a greener pasture, for sure) in 2 years and I don’t speak the language too. (I’m trying to self learn it now, though) I think its great that you have good internet. At least it won’t be too difficult to contact family and friends, right? 🙂

  3. One of my closest girlfriends married a German and is now living in Munich. Her trials sound similar to yours. Take heart in knowing you’re not alone!

    From all yor entries, it sounds like you’re doing pretty great and holding up just fine, consideringe everything that’s troubling you.

    Am sure you’ll sort things out eventually 🙂

  4. Sharm: The classes and knitting groups do help but only to a certain degree. What irks me the most is the fact that I’ve gone from someone who used to be financially independent to someone who has to ask for spending money like a small kid. It’s very annoying and frustrating at the same time. 🙁

  5. Kessa: Y’know, I learnt French when I was in M’sia – that didn’t help much (the fact I quit and didn’t practice for a year didn’t help things at all). It’s good that you’re learning! Maybe it’s the whole situation; I dunno…I just feel…frustrated, that’s all.

  6. Mel: Yeah, I think the biggest comfort for me right now is finding out and even getting to know people who are in the same situation as I am…*lesigh*

  7. I might have been lucky in landing that job, but things aren’t all THAT rosy here either. Like you, I do miss friendly faces, smiles, heck, friendly PEOPLE.

    It’s especially frustrating for me when I go to the market and I point at something I want, and they act as if I am invisible, as if I OWE them something!! Grrr.

    Anyway, you have French lessons and your knitting group, so I reckon you will have a better social life than I do. 😛 (read: non existent).

  8. Whim: Oh, I know – I didn’t mean for it to sound as if you were living a life of wine and roses! Hardly the case – I think us expat-wives have plenty in common. In a way, I’m glad for my French lessons (I really ought to have start it earlier) and my knitting group…but still, it’s nothing like back at home. Maybe I feel this way because I’m still fresh off the boat. The folks in my knitting & French class group have been here for YEARS!

    Anyway, I think Italians are a little like French; nationalistic to a degree – they don’t really speak much English (at least when I was in Italy anyway) and that’s in the touristy parts. Or at least I think they don’t speak…maybe it’s because they do but refuse to? =.=

  9. I’ve been told it takes time to get adjusted and meet new people/have a set of friends you’d be comfortable with. I’ve been told some people takes 2 years!!!


    I sense you struggle. And I can understand the feeling of not being financially independent (sort of) because although I’m working here in NZ, I miss the convenience and familiarity of everything back home. I had my friends, my freedom, my ministry. And at the moment, pay can only bring me through each fortnight. *haha*

    Even though I like doing things by myself, it’s very different here. It’s lonely because you don’t have that choice or option to ring up someone and ask to meet up somewhere. I can’t go to a mall or go to a bookstore or go to a movie on my own here…one is because shops close early and two is because I don’t own a car.

    Take heart!

    I’m looking forward to CNY!

  10. Hi Mei,
    I haven’t talked much about life in London in my blog and the main reason was I didn’t want my family members to worry as well. I know I am living in an English speaking country but I do identify with you in respect of the frustrations you face– its just not the same living in a different country where you have to try so hard to prove your worth. All I can say is don’t give up and concentrate on things that you have control over. When I was job hunting in the O’ Blighty and getting rejections left right and centre, I started reading up on music qualifications and even auditioned for a part in a choir. The most important thing is never to allow yourself to believe that you are not any better than the others around you. Its not easy at all and I am sure there are loads of people just like us out there.
    Your knits look amazing so keep them coming! 😀

  11. Miracle: Hey, thanks for sharing and those lovely words of support/encouragement! I’m doing okay now…thankgawd for the shop and French classes and yeah, at least I have some form of control over them!!!! 😉 Then there is my knitting – I’ve picked up lace shawl knitting again and hopefully, with some time & luck, I’ll have some to showcase soon! 🙂

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