Here in Malaysia, I have gotten the opportunity to see how blessed my life really was in the United States. I didn’t really complain a whole lot about my life, but there are a lot of things I now realize that I took for granted. Here are some of the things I have grown to miss:
- Being able to take a hot shower the moment I decide I want or need one – here I have to flip a switch and wait 20 minutes while the water heats up
- Having hot water in the kitchen – here I have to boil water on the stove or in an electric kettle or fill a pot in the bathroom (after the water has warmed up) and carry it back to the kitchen
- Having a separate washer and dryer – here we have a combo unit and it takes forever to wash and dry and even then it doesn’t dry stuff all the way
- Being able to jump in a car and go wherever I want whenever I want – since I am not a spouse, I do not have driving privileges, so I either have to wait until Troy gets home and can drive us somewhere or I have to use public transit. I’m still learning the train system, but I have an easy time going the places I already know how to get to. Taxis, on the other hand, I’ve had fairly poor luck with. I have some sort of problem (they don’t know where I want to go, they won’t give me a ride back to the apartment, they don’t show up when I schedule a pick-up) every single time I’ve used a taxi by myself. So, I prefer not to go by taxi.
- Having people speak the same language – a lot of people here speak passable English, but not many speak it fluent enough to have a conversation, so the only person I usually talk with on an average day is Troy, unless I call home.
- Being able to call home whenever I want – because of the time difference, I have to wait until the hours of 10pm-10am to call my parents. It’s not too bad being able to call them in the morning, but if I’m cooking dinner and or shopping for ingredients and have a question, I’m kinda SOL.
- Being able to text my family for free – I have a pay-as-you-go plan here, so I can still text the US whenever I want, but it costs .50 per text. Regular texts cost .15. I have found a way to send texts from my email to my family, which is free, as long as I either use a computer or my phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network, which is usually only when I’m at home, so I still have to pay a data charge to send a text email when I’m out and about.
- Having a dishwasher – you know, I do miss having a dishwasher, but not as much as I thought I would. I have my days where I wish I could just load all the dishes in a dishwasher and set it to go, but I grew up washing dishes by hand, so it’s not a huge hardship. Give me a chance to be productive and expend energy. Still wish I had one sometimes, though. lol
- Real cookies – sweets here are interesting. They either taste strange or are super expensive. Last night was the first time I’ve had real chocolate chip cookies since I got here because the only chocolate chips I’ve found come in this tiny vial and cost about $3 US. Thank you, Danielle!
- Chocolate – this is another interesting one. The only inexpensive chocolates I’ve been able to find have nuts that Troy is allergic to, so I don’t want to buy them. One, it’s not really fair to use his money to buy stuff he likes, but can’t eat, and two, I’d really rather not have foods in the house that he is allergic to. It really wouldn’t be good if neither of us was paying attention and he ate something that will make him sick. Regular, western, chocolate candies are insanely expensive. The conversion for the candy I found two days ago is a package of 12 Hershey’s kisses for $2 US! Yikes!
- Wal-Mart – yep, I miss Wal-Mart. Crazy, right? If you think Wal-Mart is crazy or a pain to shop in, try shopping here. While I have yet to see the screaming kids or yelling couples in a store here (thank goodness), finding the products I’m looking for is a painful experience. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in time, but the way they set up their stores is crazy. You’ll have kitchen products in three different places in the store, cat food in one place, kitty litter in another and other items set up similarly. I want to get a job as a store here just to organize it all.
- Drive-Thrus – yep, the good ol’ drive-thru. Not that I have a car, but when we are coming back from a drive to the mall or a hike and we want to swing into a place for a drink or a shake, we have to leave our route home to find a place, find a parking spot, find out way from the parking spot (or parking garage) to the fast food place, wait in line behind a million people, then go back to our car, fight our way back into traffic and get back on our way.
- Traffic – yup, I miss the traffic. I’ve driven in several places in the US and I have to say, each of those places is better than here. I’ve driven in Virginia where it took an hour to get to work and two hours to get home. I’ve driven all over Utah, Las Vegas, parts of Colorado, Washington, D.C, most of Oklahoma and across the US five times. None of that is as crazy as here. I need to write a post solely about how psychotic the driving is in Malaysia.
- Online shopping – we have yet to find a good online shopping place. Half the stuff on Amazon either doesn’t ship here or isn’t available to be sold here and the stuff that is either takes over a month to get here or costs $40+ US to get it here within a week.
- Variety – in the US, you’ve got 5,000 different types of the same exact thing. Here, there are usually only 2-3 types of the same thing. So, if you don’t like a particular brand, you’re kinda screwed because that’s 50-66% of your options.
- Arm & Hammer toothpaste – *sigh* I love that stuff. I’m so glad I brought a tube with me. The only western brand of toothpaste they have here is Colgate. Troy and I are not fans of it. He prefers Crest and didn’t bring any with him, so he’s got to get used to Colgate because he refuses to use the random, weird, Malaysia brands. I don’t think I blame him.
- Whole Foods – that place had TONS of gluten-free stuff and it was fairly easy to find. There was one right on the way to Troy’s house, so it was super easy to stop in and grab whatever ingredients I needed to make dinner that night. Here, we have had a bit of a hard time finding gluten-free products. We finally found a place that has gluten-free pizza dough and gluten-free pasta and a few gluten-free flours, but the train doesn’t go over there, so I either have to take a 20-minute taxi ride or wait for Troy to get home. You all know how I feel about taxis.
- Chinese delivery – I really miss this. I used to order Chinese once a month back in Oklahoma. There is just something yummy and fun about Chinese delivery. And I really love their noodles. Here, though, I haven’t found a Chinese (or Indian or Malaysian) delivery place. They have tons of little hole-in-the-wall places to get food nearby, but none of them deliver. I’ve been a little too scared to actually go into one of those places by myself because I don’t quite understand them yet. The one that Troy took me into last week had the food prep area up in front, the menu on the back wall and tables in between. If he hadn’t shown me that, I would have had no clue it was back there. I guess I could have asked, but I still have a hard time just walking up to people I don’t know and asking them questions. And I have no idea what half the food items even are, so I would have no clue what to order.
Overall, I’ve had to make some adjustments to life here. Even with the things I miss, I’m pretty happy here. I’ve learned to appreciate the things I had before, to appreciate the things I am able to find and do here and I’ve learned greater patience and acceptance towards things. I miss the conveniences I had before, but none of the things I miss have been detrimental. I’m learning to come up with new ways of doing things and I’m learning to do without. I wasn’t rich before, but I was comfortable. I’m not uncomfortable now, just comfortable in a different way. When I get back to the US, I will have a whole new perspective on wants and needs. So, this is a good thing. I’m glad I have this opportunity to see life in a new way and learn to appreciate the things I took for granted before.