A podcast about subjects that affect people of color (POC) expats in Malaysia—from fun subjects to topics that we may not be all-the-way comfortable talking about. The podcast also features non-POC expats and locals who provide more information about things relevant to the POC expats. Say hi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Whei Meng, CEO of Malaysian-based startup, Speedhome.com, is our guest on this episode of the Other Expats podcast. We haven't featured a lot of non-other expats, but one of our goals is to provide useful resources for living in Malaysia. Speedhome.com is one of those useful resources.
In addition, Whei Meng's Speedhome.com is fighting (or, at least, trying to) what many other expats have encountered in Malaysia: discrimination when looking to rent a property. It's either "the owner doesn't want foreigners" (general) or the more specific, "the owner doesn't want Africans/Nigerians."
Whei Meng believes that the homeowners are not necessarily racist, they're just protecting their properties. From what? Ahhh you'll have to listen to find out. Here's a link to the podcast. Also available on whatever platform you get your podcasts from.
Stuff we talked about:
1.32 - Who's Halima Attahiru?
2.35 - Living here for nine years, how different is it from living in Nigeria?
3.54 - The food wasn't anything to write home about because it had too much sugar. If you're an expat in Malaysia, did you have any issues transitioning or eating Malaysian food?
5.25 - In Malaysia, you don't water for free in restaurants. You have to pay for water separately *shock*
6.07 - Experience as an African woman living in Malaysia?
7.35 - What does Halima do when she's not working? Tip: cooks, takes online classes.
8.10 - Loves cooking African food. Where she lives in Malaysia has a lot of African convenience stores---expensive but available.
9.50 - What's one thing every expat should try when they're in Malaysia?
10.57 - She works with the airline so she gets to do a lot of traveling within and around Malaysia.
11.44 - Most and least favorite things about living in Malaysia? The public holidays! And the transportation system.
15.17 - Who are her crowd in Malaysia; Africans, locals or more of an international group?
17.24 - What's most different about living abroad?
Initially recorded in 2017, we share a lot of cringeworthy stuff (that you should probably skip) about the dating scene for POCs in Malaysia.
Shams, Ahlam, and Faithful also talk about and compare the 'high stakes' of dating in Saudi Arabia to the more open dating environment in Kuala Lumpur and the swiping culture in Kuala Lumpur. Also highlighted: the toxicity of expected gender roles.
Rumbidzai Lyn Kasinamunda is from Zimbabwe and is a customer experience and senior IT adviser based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
What we talked about...
Companies that make you go through the entire job application process with multiple assessments, then filter you out based on a call they make to you. Do HR executives even look at the candidate resumes at all?
Would you prefer to be informed by the HR that the company is not looking for foreigners, only looking for locals or you think being in the dark is better?
The experience hasn't been all bad, though. Between 2015 and 2018, she was based in Cyberjaya and going to work was a major highlight of her time.
** Regarding people being deported, the interview was done in June 2019. I'm not sure what the situation is now. There's the story of Jeff who---like the MBA student who died in police custody recently---spent a week in police custody even though he had valid work documents.
If you're a foreigner in Malaysia, do you have local friends? Do you think that you should have friends who are Malaysian?
She talks about the black woman experience in Malaysia. Black women tend to stick to their people, "the dating pool is limited. But for black men, the dating pool is wider."
In which we talk about how you know if you are being differently because you're black or because you actually did something wrong. Oh, and we arrived late to this but we all talk about the begpackers who were getting notorious around Kuala Lumpur, and we called Al Ibrahim in to get his opinion.
Who's Zainab Olamiji? Why did she go from studying medicine to being a business development manager? Are jobs and careers the same thing? Or just how different are they? Did our parents care about their jobs or their careers? You'd have to listen to find out.
Stuff we talked about
01.20 - Moving from Cameroon to Dubai to Malaysia
04.39 - Work culture in Cameroon vs Dubai vs Malaysia
07.00 - Culture shocks and medical certificates (MC)
10.30 - The challenge of spouses getting into the job market in Malaysia
14.25 - Renting a house as an African in Malaysia
17.13 - Needing international vetting to open a bank account
21.30 - Being followed at the mall
26.30 - Some of the weird questions African expats get
31.00 - Being an expat African husband and father in Malaysia
32.32 - Long-winding sentence about family hangouts with other families
36.40 - Have financial plans in mind when moving here
... and more
Stuff that we talked about:
1:45 - She doesn't miss church
2:04 - The point where I'm still not sure if she's Nigerian
2:12 - Introducing Nasara Katuka, from Kaduna State in Nigeria
2:23 - [Facepalm] Ignorance galore
3:50 - She's a Business Developer
4:04 - Background music from all the families playing at Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya
5:10 - What's your story?
5:38 - SHe studied Business & Management
5:54 - Company closed and everyone had to "find their own way"
7:55 - Nigerian expats in Malaysia and our reluctance to "go back home"
12:02 - What does she do when she isn't working?
13:53 - Al talks about his video project
14:52 - Nigeria doesn't have an accent
16:11 - Favourite and least favourite things about being in Malaysia. First on the list? Electricity
21:00 - How much travelling do you do?
24:05 - We find out that she models as well!
24:47 - She's done a commercial for Harpic in May 2018 and a music video with DJ Policy's African Woman in July 2018. She also does photo shoots. Check out Sunday Girls on Instagram
28:00 - Advice to other expats in Malaysia. Have a backup plan
Some of what we talked about
7.34 - What impact do you expect the book have on readers?
9.21 - What other experiences have you had in Malaysia?
9.43 - Favourite place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? Brickfields.
11.13 - Where is home to you? For Tanya, it is wherever she feels comfortable in, whether it's Bali or Kuala Lumpur.
15.29 - One of her greatest experiences in Malaysia is at the fireflies reserve at Kuala Selangor. The park is considered to be the largest colony of fireflies in the world.
17.34 - Recommendations for a nature outing for expats in Malaysia?
19.25 - What's a typical day for her like?
21.20 - Rereading the book that changed her life—Life of Pi.
22.10 - When we talk a bit about religion
26.00 - Tatiana's TV show recommendation—The Good Doctor.
26.40 - She's a Harry Potter fan!
27.52 - When can we be expecting her next book?
If you want to support Tatiana and/or her cause—improving the welfare of refuges in Malaysia—you can get in touch with her here.
It's been a while, I know, but we're still mostly here and we're trying to give you better content and stories.
That's what Season 2 of the Other Expats Podcast is about. We're getting that started with Russian teacher and writer, Tatiana Shulgina who just launched her book, A Dream too Far, about how to provide refugees in Malaysia with effective education.
This is just a trailer. The full audio will be coming soon. In the meantime, subscribe to the podcast and follow/like us on whatever platform you get your audio fix from. That's the support that we need.
While he may not technically be an expat yet, Olajide (Ben) Adejumo, a student of HELP University on a sports (basketball) scholarship from Nigeria, shares and experiences a lot of what expats do.
In this episode of the Other Expats podcast, Ben talks about similarities and differences between living in Malaysia and the motherland, making friends, and dribbling on his extremely tight schedule.
01.06: Who is Olajide? BTW, Olajide is Yoruba for wealth comes in the morning
07.04: What adjustments did he need to make moving to Malaysia on a sports scholarship?
17.11: "My social life is basketball," says Ben, who shuffles between basketball practice and games and studies
21.00: The conditions that come with a sports scholarship don't allow for any laziness. "You constantly have to be on your toes."
28.36: Being judged before we are known
We met Usman Garba at his place in February for a one-on-one interview, where he talks about his experiences in Malaysia, turning down two job offers for a chance to work with Google and then losing that opportunity, taking a pre-sales job to get his foot in the door and the "two-second rule". He also shares some of his favorite TV shows and what he does when he isn't doing technical training.
Some of the things we talked about
06.03: Insecure was the show to watch last year. Looking forward to the new seasons of Insecure and Atlanta
07.25 - The Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) and West African Examinations Council (WAEC) are the college entry exams and I'm not sure how it works now but back then, after the exams, you can't be 100% sure you'll get results. The exams may get canceled or it'll take forever to get the results.
20.40: If you're coming to Malaysia to study, you have to pick a really good school
24.40: I started out as a virtual profiler, calling companies to
In this episode of the Other Expats podcast, we meet up with Deon Akitoye, Enrolment Specialist at Tungsten Network, to talk about what and where home is to him, how he stays grounded so far from home, and his thoughts about other expats in Malaysia.
"All my life, I've been hearing people say 'think outside the box'. I don't care about it anymore. I care about 'what the hell is the box?' Think like there's no box. Who created the box? Because, even if you think outside the box, you're limiting yourself to just outside the box. You can go much further."
— Deon Akitoye
Stuff we talked about:
Samson went from studying accounting and finance to practising IT in Malaysia. His interest in IT started back home in Nigeria when he worked in the Lagos "Computer Village", which (as the name implies) is the central location for all things IT in Lagos State.
There wasn't much of a culture shock being in Malaysia from being from a culturally diverse country too.
Opportunities vs greener pastures? Why are you away from your country?
Stuff we talked about
2.30 Does not recommend Malaysia for people at the start of their careers, especially not Africans. Malaysia doesn't give foreigners the option to study and work at the same time
11.30: Nigerians need a new mindset. Friend in a Nigerian company goes to work at 8am, checks-in and immediately leaves the office. She still gets paid at the end of the month.
18.35: Maybe you've heard about the chain restaurant that started in South Africa called Nandos?
20.20: You've also probably heard about the artist named Akon?
28.52: Of course, not 'the solar system'. He (we) meant using solar power.
33.10: He supports development. If you're going be a doctor, lawyer or musician, there are no opportunities in Malaysia for you.
"Be open to experiences, be open to meeting new people and, it might seem creepy at times, but just smile. Smile at strangers, smile at whoever...because you never know how a simple smile can affect someone in whatever they're going through with their day or life..."
Stuff we talked about
2.36: Choosing a career path
3.00: Why you should care about food security
5.59: What's Crops for the Future? Hint: It's not about a war on rice.
12.00: Teff in Ethiopia--the replacement for quinoa?
13.00: Enough about work. What happens when you're not working?
Stuff we talked about
4.50: LITT Nomads - remote work and travel program to give remote workers an immersive experience in Southeast Asia
7.15: "My travel around Southeast Asia has been really good to me!"
09.08: What is something every expat in Malaysia should experience at least once? Explore outside of the city areas!
15.20: Living here is not super difficult for me culturally because it's such a Westernised city. It's a very modern place; they have a lot of conveniences, they speak English in most places, I can find what I need and my work environment specifically is very Western
19.10: Learning the power of building community; moving outside a circle of friends based on familiarity.
Images by Kristen Noelle
Congolese, Roth Mikoungui, a support engineer in Kuala Lumpur, talks about his career, his Malaysian experience, dealing with his hectic schedule and his favorite place in Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Bintang.
Here's some of the stuff we talked about:
1.34: Roth is the first Congolese we've met so far! Apparently, the Congolese community in Malaysia is very small because many of them who leave the country prefer to go to China, Europe, and the US
7.26: Apparently, Guineans have a big community in Malaysia. I haven't ever met anyone from there. Or maybe I have and didn't know.
9.53: Some foreigners (or just people who've never been at before decided now was the best time to crowd around the people recording and take pictures. That's all the discussions you hear in the background for the next few minutes.
13.00: "Before I used to be very sexy with a six-pack, but now I have a family pack, so..."
14.23: "They are black like me and they have jobs, is there any magic involved? No. If they can
Emmanuel runs Geekception, one of Malaysia's top gadget review YouTube channels, and we talk about chasing his dreams and leaving a lot of things behind.
We also talk about taking time to enjoy the "inflight entertainment"-all the small things that make life more bearable. How he kicks back and enjoys the flight through life whether there's a turbulence or not, and what's next for Geekception.
Marques Young aka Q Sound, singer, songwriter, trombonist, bandleader and composer, moved to Malaysia from New York in 2009 playing with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, joined a band, Bassment Syndicate, before starting a solo career. On this episode, Q Sound talks about career, inspiration his debut album, Duel Citizenship, and what's next for him in 2018.
Image source: MTalent Asia
Al Ibrahim, writer, photographer, and professional videographer talks about the art scene in KL, getting stopped by immigration at the Kota Kinabalu Airport in Sabah and the frequent 'routine' checks of black men by the police in KL.
This episode was produced by the amazing fellows at The Small Room audio production unit, with Feras Ibrahim (@feras-ibrahim) from the Dukkan Show podcast (@Dukkanshow) and sound engineer, Ameer Ismail.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/failedimitator/
Shams, Ahlam, and Faithful talk dating as black expats in Malaysia. Ahlam denies the existence of Faithful while he's right there. Also, is going on a date worth jail time or deportation for you? These and more after you click play!
I left three days ago
But no one seems to know I'm gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it
Might not be such a bad idea if I never
Never went home again...
The lyrics from Kanye West's On My Way Home don't appear particularly home-friendly. It's a consolation to know that he does take some poetic license in the piece.
Truth is, many of us expats don't feel that way. However, some of us do. To others, home is our birth countries as well as where we currently are now.
I personally prefer the third option; you can always go home when you feel that it's time. But you have the choice to experience other cultures—the best of both worlds.
It's not always rosy for us Other Expats, however. Some of us have to be away from home for various reasons; wars, and political and economic instabilities.
Then, it is not just about not having the opportunity to return home, it's having the good fortune to be able to live outside of your home.
Whether you've made Malaysia you
One of the ideas behind Other Expats is to share the experiences that we as "other expats" have learned from, to help us all be better people and contribute more to the society. In Malcolm X's 1962 speech, he pointed out that "The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman." Okay, he was talking about America. But it applies to black women around the world.
In this episode of the Other Expats podcast, we reached out to Amal Adam, who notes that in addition to fielding ignorant questions, black women face an almost all-around pressure. "Sometimes it's from our own people, other times it's from outsiders—that's why for us we have to always be perfect, like there's no margin for making a mistake because doing so it going to attach you to everything negative so you have to be the model black girl." She, however, noted that she generally feels "safe" in Malaysia.
"It's impossible to get a job in Malaysia". "You can't have a bank account here!” "Debit/credit cards?! Are you crazy? That's impossible!” I've heard it all. As an 'other expat' in Malaysia, I'll have to admit it is difficult to do any of those things here—sometimes, however, not more difficult than other countries, or even back home.