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27 October


Yes, Ma.
Okay, Ma.


IN THE process of compiling these stories on

studying abroad, I thought of an interesting
story to tell. You see, my eldest sister had gone
to study in New Zealand a few years before I
went to complete my degree, and I remember
all the way to the airport, I was laughing at her
huge box of Maggi Mee that my mother had
'forced' her to bring along. When we arrived at
the airport however, it wasn't so funny anymore.
My sister was leaving together with her
bunch of classmates as a group. There were
easily 10 to 15 of them leaving on the same
flight. Needless to say, there were at least 50
friends and family altogether at the waiting
lounge. And each family member was holding
things they had brought things for their loved
one who was leaving. Younger siblings had
teddy bears, mother's had plastic bags I even
saw a box labelled 'Toilet and Tissue Paper'.
So I asked a few people who are currently
studying overseas, and some who have
returned to share some of their first departure
airport experience.
Jonathan Ooi studied at Curtin University in
Western Australia. When he left, his mother
had made him pack a whole bunch of different
My parents thought I would die of hunger,
he joked. So they bought me a whole stack of

instant food items like Maggi

Noodles (Tom Yam and Asam
Laksa flavour) and 3-in-1 coffee (Ipoh White Kopi). I
guess they had good
intentions, just didn't
want me to feel homesick as it was my first time
going away from home for a
long period.
But what I didn't tell them was
that the coffee didn't make it pass
the custom officers as it contained dairy and that's a huge
no, no to enter Australia.
Being the filial son that he
was, he also didn't tell
them that Perth was full
of shops selling traditional Asian ingredients
and food.
I actually felt dumb lugging that few packs
over only to find tons of them available at
every store in Chinatown!
Unlike Jonathan, who had time to pack his
stuff, some others got 'ambushed' unknowingly at the airport.
As I was lugging my already exploding at its
seams luggage, mum in all her best intentions
handed me a paper bag, 24-year-old Alex
Chan said. Inside were at least a dozen boxes
of Brand's Essense of Chicken. At that point

though, I somehow suspected that instead of

me calmly sipping the
chicken broth by the fireplace as depicted in the
Brands' ad, I would be
serving them as an
appetiser to unsuspecting guests and proclaiming that I singlehandedly made it myself.
The fact is, parents will always be like that,

no matter
what you
And really,
many people
can't find the
heart to actually decline their
parents good
The same
was for
leaving the
country she was
only heading to Universiti
Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
My luggage was 5kg over the allowed
weight because my mum packed what
looked like half a shop worth of Chinese
herbs! Cordyceps, ginseng, bird's nest, she
explained. I was touched... but it also meant
frequent phone calls home, asking her how I
should cook those herbs!
And as for me, after having another sister
leave the country before me, I was glad that all
I had to lug with me was an ang pow.

The Royal College of

Surgeons Ireland

Dublin Calling
Who would have thought that I
would end up here in Dublin,
Ireland at The Royal College of
Surgeons (RCSI). Ive actually just
arrived barely a month ago, and to
learn about the medical college and
its rich history (it was establised in
1784!) just sends a chill up my
back... especially when you find out
that the campus was built on a
Quaker burial site. Cool, huh?

One of the first things I had to

adjust to was the temparature I
dont know how the Irish people
stand the cold. For us Malaysians,
the weather was a 360 degree
change yet you would see the odd
Malaysian or two walking around
Dublin without jackets or sweaters.
Talk about being thick skinned. By
the way, walking is an amazing culture here and each morning, I look

out of my window and I just see

loads of people. It really is a nice
Being Malaysian though, one of

my main concerns was the food. All

my initial fears were put to rest
though I managed to find places
where I could by the rempah need-

ed to cook my wicked meals. All

that worry for nothing. Besides,
cooking myself means that I could
help keep my budget low. Who said
that we cant have the best of both
worlds (although I must admit that
I acted like a total jakun when I saw
Maggi Chilli Sauce!).
So yeah, thats my college experience. Ive still got a long way to go
but hey, its all working out for me
already. I hope this has given you a
slight insight as to what it is like to
study in Dublin.
By Sylvia Sushila Samuel, RCSI,

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