Benét: what’s your name?
Sabrina: My name is Noor Sabrina Mah Hussin usually umm official documents they just put Noor Sabrina Mah hussin
B: So your first name is Nora…
S: My given name Noor Sabrina
B: Nora Sabrina…
B: Noor, so it’s together
S: you can spell it together. It’s actually two words
S: so that’s my given name
B: so that’s your full first name
S: my given name so I guess it’s my first name than Mahusein is my dad’s given name. We don’t have family names
B: yeah I know. Some places don’t have… I had a friend whose family was from India and her father’s first name was Abraham so her last name was Abraham.
S: right, it not really a…
B: kids take their fathers name as a last name
S: it’s not really a last name, so actually my full name has another word in between and it says Nor Sabrina daughter of Mah Hussin. It’s Arabic. But my name is supposed to mean light of patience
B: light of patience. So that’s what Nor Sabrina means
S: Nor means light and Sabrina means patience
B: where from Malaysia are you from
S: I wouldn’t actually say west coast because it’s not that close to the sea. It’s about one hour from the capitol, Kuala Lumpur
B: That’s the name of the capitol
S: mm-hmm but my town is actually pretty small town that’s in between two big cities so I guess it’s kind of growing now because of that.
B: what’s the name of your town
B: attempt at saying name
S: Beranang, which is funny, in a dialect it means swim for some reason that’s the name of the town
B: but it’s not near the ocean?
S: no, but there is a river that was supposedly deep enough that ships could park there or like boats could park there. In a different dialect it means something else, I can’t remember, I think something like I win or something like that. Yeah it’s weird. It’s a funny name
B: so you said the river used to be able to park there. I take it now they can’t go through
S: no, its… it’s barely a river now
B: is it more like a creek
S: I guess a creek, we call everything a river we don’t really have creeks.
B: yeah, I think Japan is like that too. So depending on what time… so in fall when I went what they called a river… it supposedly widens from the snow melting from the mountains. But when I was there it was like barely any water and I’m like this is a river
S: yeah, right. I guess it’s a river when it’s the rainy season. So I uhh, We lived there because my mom bought a piece of land. And that were by grandparents lived so they all bought pieces of land there. So my mom built a house. We have about three and one third acres of land
B: wow, that’s a lot isn’t it?
S: it’s all right it’s…
B: pretty good size…
S: pretty good size. So we have a small orchard. We had durian trees, mangos, we have tropical fruits
B: did you spend a lot of time at the orchard?
S: growing up I did. I used to climb a lot of trees. There is even a special tree I have. It’s a mango tree and for some reason it grew up straight and then at the top it branches out perfectly so you could sit on it perfectly.
B: oh nice
S: So it was my tree house I guess
B: your climbing tree.
S: yeah, I climbed trees a lot
B: you said that your grandparents also bought land. How far away was it from your house?
S: I think if you walked its like five minutes away. It’s really close
B: so you’re really close with your grandparents?
S: not really because I wasn’t… I wasn’t born in Malaysia I was born in Brunei and then lived there for; I think a year and a half or so.
B: where is bb?
S: Burani… it’s in Bornu. It’s in between two other Malaysian states. It’s a small country, it’s a kingdom.
B: I don’t really know much of that area.
S: It’s tiny. It’s slightly bigger than Singapore. It’s really rich because of oil. So I was born there and then I moved to Indonesisia for I think a year or so, but then we moved back but we didn’t move to my mom’s land right away. I finally moved to that town, finally when I was seven, I think.
B: how old where you when you left Brunei
S: I think about two
B: So you probably don’t remember much
S: I remember some things. I remember there’s a famous park called Jerudong Park I think, its amusement park. It’s really famous. I think Michael Jackson came there to perform or visit. I don’t remember him but I remember going to that park and I remember some of the friends I had there. I know it was for at least two years because my brother was also born there and he’s almost two years younger. For sure I was there that long.
B: So then you lived in Indonesia for a year. Do you remember much of Indonesia?
S: quite a bit. I remember I already started school, like a preschool thing. I don’t remember but I think it used English, I think.
B: so where you three then at the time when you started preschool or kindergarten?
S: I don’t know what you would call it, we just called everything kindergarten but it was probably preschool. I learned nursery rhymes, and colors, English words like that. I remember the house we stayed at and our neighbor. I can’t remember what nationality my neighbor was, I think he was Caucasian. I remember visiting some of the places in Indonesia. I think I went to one of the big temples.
B: which temple do you know?
S: it might be Borobudur I think
B: It’s hard to remember way back then. So living in Malaysia what is one of your favorite memories.
S: in Malaysia the whole time I been there was for school. That’s probably most I remember. Cause I… you mean in Malaysia generally or where I grew up?
B: I guess, you grew up in your mom’s town or did you move a lot in Malaysia as well.
S: so when we went back to Malaysia we live about forty minutes from that land, then I went to, I guess this is kindergarten until I was six… yeah I think I spent about three years there. Then we started building our house and moved in. So I remember mostly school but in general I remember the food.
B: the food
S: of course, we just have a lot of food. We can eat almost different things every day for really two weeks and then repeat or maybe a bit more than that. And my family doesn’t cook much at home, so most of the time we go out to eat, which isn’t too bad food isn’t too expensive there. We have food stalls they’re not fancy but there good, we do that a lot
B: what are some of the names of the foods you remember?
S:definetly, Nasi Lemak its translated to mean, I don’t want to say fatty, maybe creamy rice or in a way fatty rice because it’s cooked with coconut milk which makes it creamy, and you eat it with samba, which is uhh, what would you call it, it’s like something you…it’s like a dip but not really, something you add to your food so that its spicy
B: so something more like a seasoning or a spice
S: it’s ahh, you have to prepare it. I’m trying to compare it to something here. Maybe… like ranch maybe but it’s spicy. It’s red and made of chili. Sometimes people put in onion and anchovies
B: can you eat it with chips and put it in food kind of thing?
S: yeah I guess you could eat it with chips too, I’ve never done that but I guess you can. Usually you eat it with rice or noodles.
B: so you normally put it in something?
S: you put it at the side of your plate and then you scoop some with your food
B: ok, I’m kind of thinking it like salsa
S: it could be like salsa, yeah, that’s why I kind of say it’s like a dip kind of. But it’s spicy and you also have fired anchovies and ground nuts with the rice.
B: ground nuts?
S: I guess peanuts. We call them ground nuts. Also you can have fried egg usually. It’s a whole plate of…
B: fried food
S: food, yes. I miss it.
B: so is there a lot of fried food there?
S: yeah there’s a lot of deep fried food actually
B: how does that compare to American deep fried food?
S: We use palm oil. I don’t know if you do here. I can’t find any at the store here. I had to bring some from here. I can’t use corn oil, it explodes a lot. It gets everywhere then it dries up in the pan and I have nothing to fry with. I don’t know. I can’t use it.
B: We have a deep fat fryer because my step dad likes French fries and usually the best way to make them is with the fryer
S: Usually we just fry everything in a…
S: it’s not a pan, we don’t use pans much we use a wok. We use it for everything. I usually, at least with my family, when we fry chicken we just put salt and turmeric powder.
We go on a short tangent on turmeric
- Cause there are three main races in Malaysia, theres Malay, Indian, and Chinese. A lot of our dishes are mixed, so like we eat, Malays eat curry as well as, what would be a Chinese… noodles. So it’s a mix
- Curry is really good.
S: Curry is very different from here though
B: it is
S: let’s see, I can’t point out what’s different about it but it tastes different. Ours is probably more watery probably, maybe and there’s something else we have that’s not curry…
B: are you talking about the boxed curry?
S: I think so; well I think I’m talking about when I go to restaurants probably
B: You said, there’s a lot of Malaysians, Chinese, Indians in Malaysia?
S: uh-huh and there are probably about 20 other indigenous people. Native inhabitants of the peninsula Bornio before most of the Malays came from Indonesia. So are history is. There was a prince in, from Indonesia; I can’t remember if it was Sumatra or Java, but he had to flee and took some people with him; and he first landed in Singapore, I can’t remember if he landed first in Singapore or somewhere near Thailand. There was a conflict there and he had to flee again. He finally ended up in, what is now known as Malacca, which grew to become a very important or almost central trading port for that area. As far as Europeans came over for trading and Chinese.
B: So is Malacca in Malaysia then?
S: mm-hmm, that’s the more well known sultanate we have at least two others around that time that were pretty well off. Then we were invaded by the Protégées, and then the Dutch, and then the British. So the British had us for the longest time, I think it was between, It was from the fourteen hundreds, I think, until our independence in nineteen fifty seven. We’re technically a third world country.
B: From pictures it seems very well modernized.
S: We’re one of the progressive countries of south East Asia, probably. I’m not sure if we still are. So during the colonization, the British had brought in workers from China and India to work on lines and plantations. And then when we wanted to get our Independence, since there were so many Indians and Chinese there already, we decided to become a country together and so negotiated with the British to get independence we said we would live together in harmony so we could take care of ourselves.
B: How has that been working?
S: I’d say it’s pretty good but then there are always some small groups that are trying to break us a part, I would say. I think generally we are ok.
B: Is there sometimes, what we call here racism?
S: Yeah there is racism. It’s not too obvious at times but if you are at the right or wrong place at the right time then you can see that.
B: Is there like a normal targeted people or is it kind of scattered.
S: probably like a three way thing. Like a triangle of racism. But I think the bigger feuds are between the Chinese and the Malays. Generally I think because of the socio-economic status of both. The Chinese are generally more well off than the Malays. There was actually even a big, sort of like, wouldn’t say civil war but civil clash that led to state of emergency. It was May thirteenth of nineteen sixty.
S: I think it was May thirteenth of nineteen sixty three or sixty five. Probably sixty five. So then we got our independence in fifty seven and that’s just the states in the peninsula, so then we wanted to include, like the states in Bornio.
B: and that’s where you were born right, In Bornio?
S: Brunei is in Bornio but it’s not part of Malaysia. They were in the plan for becoming the same country… I think they didn’t, they said no, but then the two states on Bornio said yes and so did Singapore. In sixty three instead of being called Malaya we became Malaysia but then in sixty five there was that conflict and then we kind of decided that Singapore cannot be part of Malaysia anymore, so that’s why they’re their own country and Malaysia is a country.
B: How did the decision go that Singapore couldn’t be considered part of Malaysia?
S: From what I learned in history at least, it’s partly because of the racism, because Singapore is mostly Chinese. So the plan was to include the two states in Bornio which are Sabah and Sarawak they are mostly Malays or indigenous people so we would balance that out with the Chinese from Singapore, but then there was that conflict in sixty five and at the same time Singapore was not really acting like a state of Malaysia, like it wanted autonomy it wanted to decide its own economical plans and stuff like that so it wasn’t really working out.
B: The main conflict that was between the Malays and the Chinese right?
B: Growing up and everything like that, have there been racism towards you?
S: No, I don’t because the town I grew up is mostly Malays; there are Chinese families as well and Indian family but mostly its Malays. We’re pretty close, you know, we don’t see the different race as something we should be thinking about and being friends with someone. I think. In my family, I know my mom is very open, she’s probably the one who would tell me too, you know, don’t worry about what people want do with their lives because that’s their life you think about your own, things like that. She’s the one who kind of opened my eyes kind of. Well, my dad has his stand and sometimes he’s pretty stubborn about it. He’s not bad; he doesn’t do anything bad with it but…
B: he’s just firm?
S: yeah he’s firm. I used to argue with him a lot. Now that I’ve grown up we have conversations instead of arguments.
B: Do you feel more closer to your mom or your dad?
S: I used to… I couldn’t stand my mom when I was a kid then I… I think I was twelve when I realized I was childish, I guess, from then on I tried to be more understanding on why she would nag on or tell me not to do things. I started getting closer again. It used to be, I used to be closer to my dad than to my mom. Then I kind of grew distant from my dad because there was that, bunch of arguing with him. Cause he, in some things he’s really stubborn; it used to be really difficult to talk to him about anything. It’s good now. I’m close to both of them, but probably slightly closer to my mom.
B: did you go on a tour before attending drake?
S: No, umm. I mean I wouldn’t be able to. But the international admittance officer, Leslie she came to our college and talked about Drake. We were already considering Drake and since she, you know, came to talk to us. We were more acquaintince with Drake r than other universities and we decided to come here. For me it was either, at that time it was either Drake or it was another college in Colorado, I can’t remember which one, it was either mayans thing or twins something, I can’t remember.
B: Malaysia the climates really warm right?
S: oh yeah it’s about maybe 2 degrees from the equator.
B: so you don’t get a lot of snow?
S: we don’t have snow at all; we don’t even have the four seasons. We only have, so it’s hot and wet all year but then we have like your rainy season.
B: Do kind of resent coming to Drake after seeing snow and the cold?
S: No, I like it. I don’t know I like not sweating all the time cause in Malaysia I sweat all the time. Partly why we shower three times a day and if you don’t shower for one day you’re disgusting were as here I mean, showering once a day is all ready good. At least not in the summer though, summer is still hot.
B: Does it get as hot here as it does in Malaysia?
S: I think for about a couple days last year it got as hot or it got two degrees warmer than it would usually be in Malaysia, but you know, that’s only for a few days were in Malaysia it’s all year.
B: Do you have just one season in Malaysia?
S: Yeah, I guess we would call it season but it’s the monsoon season, where it we get a lot of rain, and then there’s the season where it’s dryer.
B: So you have the dry season and wet season? I think Florida is kind of like that.
S: Florida kind of felt like Malaysia, a little bit.
B: So your town was more inward and away from the ocean so did you experience a lot of monsoons?
S: So a monsoon hits from the east side, let’s see, yes. So we would still get rain, like the rain would go I think even Indonesia gets the monsoon and get a lot of rain, but it’s not as bad as the east coast because they have the… the water, the seas would be rough, but I don’t think it.. The water goes on to the land, but it’s still the rain that gives us floods and stuff like that. I think a year ago we had a really bad flooding in the east coast because of the, because we discovered we had some uncontrolled logging, deforestation, so yeah it was flood and landslides and stuff like that.
B: Is there been anything to prevent the uncontrolled logging? Or is that still kind of an issue.
S: That is illegal, deforestation. There are some areas that you can log in and also some that are, we have a lot of protected rainforest are. You’re not supposed to touch them but illegally people still do it.
B: The companies that do it do they get huge fines? Do you know?
S: I know there are a lot of fines, but I don’t know what happened to that one, I don’t know if they solved it yet or not.
B: Drawing up I guess, when you were little compared to know has Malaysia had a lot of improvements or dis-improvements?
S: I would say both. Well, I’m not sure because I see a lot of bad things now and I’m not sure if that’s because we’ve gotten worse or because I’ve gotten older to see, you know, the dark part of things. I’d like to think we’re growing. So I mean we have some problems but you know every country has problems and I think we’re kind of handling it, we’re dealing.
B: So do you have a lot of crime then?
S: Oh crime, I’m talking more of politically were the countries heading and how we’re managing the youth or managing human resources. So I’m part of the government plan to invest in human assets, I guess to put it, say that. So they send us to universities and sponsor us. We’re supposed to come back and help the country get better. But lately, I feel like that’s been reduced, we’re not sponsoring many students anymore. It’s not necessary a bad thing cause maybe we have more specialists than we did before. What we have, what we are kind of doing for the future is what I’m wondering about. I think we’re ok still.
B: Whets your major?
B: Are you planning. Do you plan on helping Malaysia at all or what’s your plan?
S: ever since the last year of high school or secondary school actually I’ve had this elaborate plan a really big dream. At that time I wanted to work on Nuclear energy because as, speaking in terms of, as a Malaysian I think we should move from fossil fuels and that nuclear energy is like it produces a lot of energy but at the same time there are a lot of safety concerns also we don’t have specialists on that, I don’t think at all. So then from then on I wanted to get into nuclear physics so I could start a program or something like that. Now I’m thinking I don’t have to limit myself to nuclear energy that maybe I can use physics for any kind of energy production thing, so maybe look at solar energy or other things like that. I’m trying to improve our energy production.
B: brought up how there is current study on taking under water current to produce energy.
S: I have a friend who was with me, before we went to the states, and she went to I think she went to university of Washington in Seattle, but she does that geology but she specializes in water.
B: Going off of the government sponsor thing, is that kind of why so many Malaysians go with actuary science?
S: actually no, I would say that maybe about ten of the actuary science are sponsored but most of them are private ___ they choose to do that here and there paying it themselves.
B: There’s just so many so I was wondering if that had any relation
S: I know they choose drake because Drake is good for that, but I’m also wondering if it has to do with that there are already Malaysians here that coming here would be a good choice that way you’re not alone.
B: Is that why you chose Drake?
S: No, I actually didn’t know there were that many Malaysians here. I did not know. I chose Drake because compared to the other universities I was offered to. It’s private for one so it’s small, and I’ve heard that it’s easy to work with professors on research and stuff like that and I thought that was a great thing. I did, like the second semester I was already working with a Professor.
B: What were you working on?
S: The same thing I’m still doing now, its quantum mechanics so, I’m trying to study how the certain cork propagates through a certain medium.
B: How’s that working?
S: actually pretty good I mean I gave my talk at a conference last week and that went well there are people who are interested in it.
B: weren’t you alone when you went there? Cause I thought you said there was other people?
S: Yeah there was supposed to be two other girls who are also working with that professor but on a different project. But there project was being presented so they were supposed to come with but they decided not to so I was the only student and then there was the professor then the, I think he’s the lab instructor but he’s also working on a lab project with the professor
B: were there other students that were non-drake that presented as well or were you actually the only college student?
S: I don’t know for sure, I feel like all the talks I attended though were not students they were experimentalists from different labs or professors from different universities that are working on experiments. There were mostly experimental physics and a handful of theorists and my project was a theoretical project.
B: did you present to all of them or just the theorists?
S: they had parallel talks and so there. Along with my session there were maybe five other sessions going on so people could just go into a room and listen to people talk. I think I had about twenty to thirty people. It was really nerve wracking because I’m an undergraduate and these people are physics and there experts and it was kind of scary. It went well because most of them were experimentalist and didn’t really know theoretical stuff so they didn’t really ask super tough questions.
B: are you doing a… No you already did your senior capstone didn’t you?
S: that’s partly my senior capstone. So I finished that summer, the first summer I was here. It’s fun, then it gets stressful then it got fun again.
B: you’re still currently working on that this semester?
S: I might even after I graduate just because it’s something I can do on my own computer. I’m running it on my own laptop right now.
B: are you taking it as a credit or doing it as your free time?
S: right now it’s a one credit hour cause I might as well take a credit for it but in summer though I did it as a full time research thing with DuSci. I do forty hours a week I get paid but it’s full time and for eight weeks.
B: Do you still do that then
S: I did it for two summers then I didn’t this year. This year I just wanted to relax.
B: are you going to do it after you graduate?
S: Like DuSci, No because I’m going by the end of… I mean after I graduate
B: are you looking forward to that?
S: probably about fifty-fifty. I miss my home, I miss my family, and I miss just doing or being somewhere I’m really used to and do things that I used to do but at the same time I like how things are here, I like the friends I made. At the same time I like being by myself the freedom.
B: Did you attend a university at Malaysia before coming to Drake?
S: So right after the last year of secondary school in which we had a it’s like SAT so it’s like the standardized test that everyone takes after school so after that there was a sixth month break, during that break I applied to universities. I was accepted to its called matriculation I know Australia has it, I feel like UK has it as well cause it’s probably a British thing. So you do a level no O level, I think its O level. You do A level here right? It’s either A or O level I can’t remember
B: I don’t know A or O level on what?
S: It’s just called A level O level so it’s like
B: Is it for English or General
S: a few subjects it’s like school again but advance it like transition. You’re trying to get used to… It’s like a transition kind of, you things school like but you’re doing university level things kind of. There’s another test like that, so I almost went to that but I got accepted to a university which is actually the oldest and for awhile the best university in the country, so I went there because I was not accepted to do this sponsorship. I went there for four weeks but on the third week I got an e-mail saying I’m accepted into the sponsorship.
B: The sponsorship is to send kids to go abroad?
S: yeah, so I changed to the… the sponsorship will send you to a preparation college for a year or two years before they send us to whatever country were sent to. SO I changed college to the preparation one. So I went to two universities.
B: what is the preparation college?
S: it’s called Uniten, it’s the university that’s owned by the energy company which is I think interesting because of what I want to do. It’s an engineering college but they have a college that does international things like they had Japanese classes, German Classes and they had French as well, so there we did these AOI sort of classes. And at the same time we did the SAT and TOFEL
B: Did you have to take any English classes?
S: We were doing calculus and physics and some SAT classes. I didn’t know what SAT was until I had to do it. We had three months to prepare for it. It was interesting it was very interesting.
B: How was your secondary schooling structure?
S: secondary? Oh, so we have primary and secondary school. Primary is when your 7 to 12 and then secondary is 13 to 17.
B: That’s age right?
S: yeah, Age. But, Ok so for secondary school when your thirteen you’re in form one. It’s called a form instead of class. Instead of grade its form one form two form three and form five. And then instead of matriculation you sometimes have form six. When I was in school during form three there’s another standardized test in which your grade will determine what stream you can go into. So we have science stream and arts stream. Most school would have those two some schools would have more but since our school was not so big we had science and art. Between form one I mean during form one till form three you’re just doing the same thing, everyone is doing the same classes and then after that is when you start go your own way.
B: so very different from here?
S: Yeah it’s very different. Up till form three when were fifteen where just doing basic math, I mean we call it basic math but when you go in to the science stream you get additional math which a mix of pre-algebra, calculus, statistical. A mix of all those.
B: I take it you got taken into the science stream?
B: so how is it determined on which stream you could? Is it kind of based on the kid’s preferences or kind of based off of knowledge?
S: yeah that as well as what grades you get in that standardized test you take when you’re fifteen.
B: So it’s on their preferences and their grades?
S: yeah so some would get a really get grade and usually people would assume they would go into science stream, you know they could always choose not to. For some people it’s not because of the grade it’s because of their choice, but there are also people who want to do science but there grade wasn’t high enough to get into the science stream. They do that because in science stream you have a lot more classes that are different that what you’ve done until that point. So we started having physics, and biology, and chemistry.
B: This is by the time your fifteen?
S: Sixteen. Fifteen is when you take that test, that standardized test and then sixteen is when you start going into that stream. So when you’re fifteen and seventeen. We start doing advanced math no additional math and then physics, chemistry, and biology; those four are the main classes for the science stream than the rest of the classes are the same classes: history, language, moral. Usually, at least around my time, things are different not, but around my time usually every student will have nine classes, so you would; so our results would be how many As you get out of the nine.
B: With nine classes how long did your school classes err school run?
S: A year it’s January to November or so or to October
B: what time did you start and what time did you end
S: officially school starts at 7:40 and ends at 2:00 but we have mourning assembly so it’s like 7:20 till 2:00.
B: you fit all nine classes in that time? Or do you alternate?
S: yeah we would alternate. Most classes would go about an hour. Its eighty minutes per class usually.
B: so how many classes a day would you have?
S: four would it be no six. Probably about six. About five or six. We divide them into periods and each period is forty minutes, some classes will have three periods in one go, usually it’s two. So, for like PE that would be three in one go and its once a week.
B: So in between those periods you’d have another class than go back to PE
S: no, in one go. In one block.
B: In one time frame you’d have PE? So you’d have PE for two hours almost
S: two hours almost per week. That would include the time it would take to change, you’re not doing it for the whole two hours. We would do fun thing we usually played games like: volleyball, soccer, and hockey. One more thing we separate the guys and the girls. So they would have a guy instructor and we would have a female instructor
B: so you would be entirely separated for the whole class
S: mm-hmm, I can’t remember a time when we were together it’s always separate. When we start that science stream thing, there are only twenty five I think in my class. The science class was only one class and then the rest were, there’s one economics class and that was larger I thing thirty something people and the rest I think were just called arts and they do a mix of everything they do arts, and they do geography, and history, and things like that. So for PE we had to combine first and second class cause we’d only be like twenty people playing.
B: I take it at home you spoke Malay did you speak it at school?
S: Cause Malay is the national language, the school I went to is the public national school so you have to use Malay. But then there are also vernacular schools that teach in, depending on what dialect you want: Chinese and Indian. Because Chinese is a different dialect and Indian is different. It depends on the community but for national schools you have to use Malay
B: what age you did you start learning English?
S: that’s when you just start school. So when seven and probably early if you go to kindergarten you start then. So ever since you start going to any sort of school
B: and you go all the way till you graduate?
S: all the way until your seventeen which is form 5 and then you still do it in college, probably. So I would say every year.
B: do you find that learning English through all that years of learning, has it benefited you at all or do you just why are we learning English?
S: I don’t mind, I like learning and learning a language is interesting because then you open up your options and there’s a lot more you can understand, watch listen and read. So I don’t mind
B: did you have friends that didn’t like it?
S: oh yeah, a lot of us didn’t like it. Sometimes I don’t because it just you don’t feel like you want to do that. You write a lot of essays, I didn’t like that so much sometimes. A lot of my friends didn’t like it. It’s because the sentence structure is different than Malay so it’s very difficult for a lot of us to use the language.
B: How in Malay sentence structured
S: I think it’s the difference between what comes first the object or the subject and it’s reversed for us. So like you would say, I think, for English it’s the adjective first then the object.
Wrote a sentence: MARY THREW THE BALL
S: I guess you can say it in this order but you can also say it in reverse so the subject and the object are switched. But I’m saying that like adjectives have a red ball so that’s adjective then the object where we would say ball red. Yeah just a lot of things are flipped. It’s not like English learning French
B: because those languages are kind of similar
S: yeah, then also when you go into the science stream during my time the science classes would be in English so physics, chemistry and biology where taught in English.
B: So the teachers taught entirely in English, they didn’t speak Malay?
S: well, they were supposed to just use completely English but it would be impossible for us to learn anything so they would explain sometimes in Malay but the text books are in English.
B: That must have made it a challenge
S: yeah it was interesting. Oh and the math too.
B: I guess that’s one way of learning the language just shoving text books
S: I feel like I learned most of the English I know from TV and video games and songs, cause my parents at least my mom mostly listen to English music and watches English shows.
B: what kind of songs and shows she watch?
S: She likes old songs, not too old like sixty onwards
B: so like the Beatles, the carpenters?
S: The carpenters, Adam Bryant, ABBA, Celine Dion.
B: What shows did she watch?
S: she like, I don’t she watched a bunch. She watches CSI, I think when I went home last year she was watching American Horror Story, let’s see, and she used to watch judging someone
B: Judging Amy?
B: Kind of an older show about a Judge a female judge right?
S: yeah, she watched desperate housewives
B: are they broadcasted in Malay in Malaysia?
S: yeah but not on regular channels. On cable I guess.
B: Do they get translated into Malay?
S: No, they’re subtitled. My parents are fluent in English they don’t really use subtitles.
B: how did they become fluent?
S: I wonder too I mean I know they learn it as well in school and then college so I’m not sure. They read English thing like books and newspaper and you know watch TV
B: Structure wise; is Des Moines kind of similar to your home town in Malaysia or different?
S: would you mean the architecture?
B: kind of like the buildings and the houses then you’ll probably hit farmland
S: if we are comparing to my town, it’s a small town so we do not have tall buildings we have what we call shop lots so there like rows of shops and then there are some houses that are pre built and you buy like you would here but most of them people buy pieces of land and build their own house so they’re every where
B: Houses aren’t close?
S: No, usually no. But then if you go to slightly bigger cities then there more planned so someone will design a housing area, like how the houses will be arranged. Those are more…those would be more squared in the states mostly everything is in squares like straight roads going North South East and West but in my town it depends on where people build houses. So if someone built a house here (placing hand on stage on where the house would be) then a road would have to go that way.
B: I kind of feel like that’s’ how it is when you go out to the country side a bunch of corn fields then there’s a house drive a little bit further then there’s a house.
S: yea probably like that. But there’s not that many tall buildings. If you would want to compare Des Moines to somewhere in Malaysia it would have to be a capitol of a state. It’s also different because we didn’t really plan our cities we just started building buildings then do the road to connect them where as here I think you do the roads first and then you decide where the buildings. You do a lot of planning for your cities you can just see grids when you look at maps but not in Malaysia. Although I think the first planned city was built in the year 2002, 2001 or 2002 but I don’t know what happening to that city. I don’t know if people are moving in to the city or not cause it’s the first of its kind and still experimental.
B: what’s the name of the town err city
S: cyberjiya it even has a fancy name it’s supposed to, it was planned to be the multimedia super corridor so it was planned where the internet line would go through. The same reason why Malacca was a very important port is the peninsula of Malaysia it goes, it’s kind of like this tip that goes in the middle of all the south East Asia. Ships would have to go through the straight of Malacca to get a cross to get to the east side so for internet that would also be like a good idea to go through there. I don’t know what happened to that.
B: so is it still the base for the internet base?
S: I’m not sure if that happened.
B: you mentioned states and capitols so are your states set up similar to how the United States are setup?
S: not really cause again if you look at the maps you have a lot of squares. very defined squares states sometimes but for Malaysia it depended on the, so what we call states are actually sultanates back then so they had their own sultans and that’s their own kingdom but now that were all together as a country they become states within the country.
B: is Malaysia a democracy set up then?
S: it’s a parliament system. We have a parliament but also a king. It’s a parliament with a king.
B: Is it very similar to how England does it?
S: I think so. The parliament will decide on things but if the king is not happy with it then I think he can have a say, some say in it. He’s also the one who can declare emergency. I can’t remember if he has any control over the military, I don’t think so. But he‘s the one who officially appoints ministers, prime ministers and things like that.
B: Is emergency only used when there is internal conflict?
S: I don’t know its emergency its martial law. It’s when you use martial law. When a disaster or conflict like maybe a really bad forest fire or something like that.
B: going back to your name. Your name is Arabic?
S: yes, at least it’s supposed to be
B: do you speak some Arabic?
S: umm, I know. I don’t think I would be able to converse in Arabic. I know certain words and can probably guess what the sentence is say if I sit on it like if I think on it. I’ve forgotten a lot. I did learn at school. In primary school is when your seven to twelve years old that goes to 7:30 to about 12:30 but I also went to evening school and that’s from 2:30 to 6:00 and that’s evening school or afternoon school. At least mine was for religious classes where as the morning school is somewhat secular so in the evening I learned religion fully, that’s what we focused on so I did we have Arabic every year so for six years I took Arabic.
B: are there a lot of Malaysians who take those afternoon classes?
S: well, for one not every state has that. Some states they have instead maybe a hybrid of the secular and the religious schools I think some, not many, but some will have only schools that are. Some states will have even more rigorous schools and some states don’t have any at all. In my town almost everyone went to afternoon school and some who didn’t but that’s fine afternoon school was optional.
B: are there other types of afternoon school or are they just religion?
S: the kind I’m calling afternoon school is all religion based yeah.