Interviewer: Benét

Narrator: Sabrina

B: Where just going to start off with how many family members do you have?

S: like the whole family?

B: Yeah

S: I have my parents, two older sisters and one younger brother. (My older sisters) are twelve and thirteen years older, they’re married. I didn’t really grow up with them.

B: Do they live close by?

S: I’m not sure if… they both got married while I was away, and I’m not sure if my second sister moved closer but if not then they both live in K.L. Kuala Lumpur the Capital

B: How far is your home town from the Capital?

S: about an hour. An hour and fifteen (??) minutes

B: How is your relationship with your sisters?

S: I don’t know how to describe that. Actually I feel like it’s kind of feel that it’s awkward sometimes because I just grew up just with my brother until we kind of got together again maybe when I was like fourteen so I was already grown up and suddenly I have two older sisters who are a lot older. I don’t know, I can it’s I can’t really compare it to a normal relationship between sibling would be because I don’t know.

B: when where you younger where were they?

S: When I was born in Brunei they stayed in Malaysia for school then when I got back my second sister went to college and my first sister got a job and lived on her own, so… yeah.

B: going back to your memories, you said you remember the amusement park in Brunei what are some of the things you remember at the park?

S: I remember winning a bunch of crayons. I can’t remember well now, I used to be able to. I remember winning prizes at the games.

B: what games did you play?

S: I don’t remember at all I just remember sometimes, cause we’d go there quite often and then we’d come home walking at night and I would be holding crayons.

B: What else do you remember from Indonesia?

S: I remember my neighbor that I would often play with. I remember horse carriages that would come once in awhile through our neighborhood; anyone could ride and pay them money. Also people who sell this kind of desert thing it’s putu bambu, it’s like flower made into a mesh sort of and you eat it with coconut shavings and brown sugar and sometimes it’s just a coconut with brown sugar inside like a container that’s usually bamboo, it used to be bamboo but now people use metal containers. It’s interesting. My mom loves those so whenever I hear them come around I would wake my mom up.

B: did you eat them often or as often as

S: as often as they come, yeah, almost every time they do

B: how often did you ride the horse carriage?

S: not too often, I think at least twice though. I love horses.

B: going back to Malaysia, what did you do during you free time?

S: as a kid? I used to draw a lot. So I’d read my sisters comic books, she had the collection of Sailor Moon, all of them from one to twenty four

B: is that how you go into manga?

S: probably yeah, cause my sister. SO I read those and I would try drawing them. I also like t draw superheroes like batman, Robocop, and Zorro. It’s interesting, yeah I think most of the time I would be drawing or playing with friends.

B: what would you be playing?

S: Sometimes we would take out those kiddie pulls that you inflate then put water in. Sometimes we’d play video games. I think at that time, I can’t remember what console it was but it’s were you first play the Mario game, then there’s a tank game. I don’t think it had Dr. Mario yet but

B: one of those grey old Nintendo’s?

S: yeah, the one where you used the tape thing, what do you call it?

B: I don’t know, I think a cassette or something.

S: you just…push it down.

B: there’s so many old Nintendo’s

S: yeah, which one is the Atari?

B: Atari is the one that it plugs into the TV and it’s already got preset games and it’s got a joystick

S: oh yeah, no not that one then. This is the one with also the hunting game where you shoot the ducks and then there your hunting dog that laughs at you when you missed. I grew up with them. (My parents like Tetris) I did a lot of Mario and Tank. I think the shooting game was called duck hunt, you use a toy gun and shoot the screen.

B: Is there anything else?

S: I can’t remember much. I played a lot as a kid. I probably watched TV; No, I didn’t watch TV till about seven.  Well, around the same time my mom was building the house we live in now and so we would go to that piece of land; I’d play on the trees and stuff like that so that’s when I did my climbing

B: so you went over to the house frequently?

S: I think we would go twice a week at least to check up on the progress.

B: you said you lived five minutes from your grandparent’s house; did you visit them a lot?

S: I wouldn’t say a lot but pretty often, once a week at least.

B: what would you do there?

S: not much, usually show up, do whatever, then go back home. But it would it also be the place where the bigger family meets up so we’d have our cousins there, that a fun time, we’d play…. Hide and seek, play fight. It doesn’t hurt so much when you’re a kid.

B: what was your relationship like with your mom?

S: when I was little I had very hard time listening to her. She would always get so frustrated and angry. I don’t know I just wanted to play a lot, so whenever she would tell me to shower I would have a problem with that.

B: how was your relationship with your dad?

S: it’s pretty… it was a lot of fun I think because he introduced us to a lot of ways to have fun. He made us wooden swords that are supper heavy. Even wooden guns that shoot rubber bands.

B: how did he make those?

S: I think he’d just have like a pin at the end then something to hold it that you can release with a trigger at one end and put a rubber band. It was interesting

B: did he carve them?

S: yeah, I think those were left over wood from building the house, so we’d make stuff out of them. It’s a lot of fun.

B: did you and your brother often play fight with them?

S: yeah, I can’t remember if my brother also had a huge sword, he might have made something else for him, but I had the sword.

B: How is the relationship with your brother?

S: we grew up really close; there was a time when my parent would confuse us. Like when one of us would talk they would think it was the other one and things like that. Yeah we were really close. We would re-act cartoons we would watch together. We would go on trips and we would be doing that the whole trip in the car. It was fun.

B: how about now?

S: we still do things like that but not as much. I don’t know… just not as hyper anymore. Still excited but not as energetic I think.

B: what do your parents do for a living?

S: my dad was a civil engineer and my mom was an account but my mom retired early to be a house wife. My dad retired 2009 no, yes, 2009 or so.

B: why did he retire?

S: he was working abroad and he had a stroke so, but he was supposed to retire a few months after that anyway so he just decided to retire.

B: Speaking of careers, how do you plan on applying your research into the future?

S: the research I’m doing now. I’m not sure how it’s applicable to daily life. This is more of research just to know, I think. I don’t really see how it can benefit daily life yet. Yet, at least, because it’s what I’m studying has the same conditions as right after the big bang so probably just researching this is going to help us understand the big bang more, but that’s about it.

B: you said you had idea on what you want to do for short term after graduation.

S: yeah, so my scholarship requires to work for the government for six years, so I was planning, since I don’t know what to do for graduate school yet. I would Maybe work for a couple years, figure things out and in that time, then take a break go to graduate school and then depending on if I want to PhD or go back to work for a bit more. But yea I will take a break do graduate school then probably go back to work for the rest four years.

B: do you know what work you want to do?

S: not really either. I know what field I want to go to I think or be in but I think that’s probably why I want to work first. I just want to be working then see that’s probably going to tell me if I like it or don’t like it or would like. I don’t know I’m not being too picky.

B: What’s the field you want to go into?

S: I want energy production so maybe the energy company of Malaysia, we only have one, maybe that or the oil company; Either of those.

B: you said you watched TV when you were seven and you said your mom watched American TV. Did you watch a lot of those shows with her?

S: yeah usually at night, cause she doesn’t usually watch TV during the day. After dinner we’d just hang out.

B: what other shows and music did you listen to?

S: well, I watched anime some, started with dragon ball and umm, so dragon ball is at 10:30 on Saturday so then, but then before that was sailor moon, so I would watch some sailor moon while waiting for dragon ball. [Started airing samurai ex so that’s what I got really into. But before that it was just dragon ball and sailor moon. Not so much sailor moon.] I watched some I remember watching some Chinese series, there was one about tai gi (chi) and one about a lawyer. We kids, well people my age probably grew up watching Bollywood movies as well.

B: what kind of music did you listen to?

S: I think mostly, I wouldn’t say mostly like half and half English and Malay songs. Since I started watching anime I listen to Japanese as well, but a lot of English and Malay.

B: how was it coming from Malaysia to the US?

S: which part, the actual trip?

B: yeah, we’ll go with the actual trip

S: it was a twenty three or twenty five hour trip in total. Our group went to Korea and then to Dallas, TX and then to Des Moines. By the time we got to Des Moines we were so tired. We met with a friend who came to pick us up and she said, well she was excited to meet us but we were all probably like zombies and she said, was like she feels bad because she’s excited and know we’re tired.  Other than the trip there was a lot of getting used to because I didn’t know how the roads would work. It’s really different and I didn’t know how renting my own apartment would be like. That you have to sign stuff and arrange for your own stuff and there was also getting internet and electricity you need to have a social security number and we didn’t have that, so we had to learn a lot of new things.

B: when did you live in the apartment?

S: the one I live in now?

B: yea

S: I ‘ve been in this building since the summer of 2013, probably 2013. I got here fall of 2012 and then to the summer of 2013 I was in a different apartment then I moved to this one.

B: so your first semester here you

S: first two semesters

B: first two semesters you lived in apartment?

S: I had two housemates, then two of us moved t out two bedroom apartment

B: Were the dorms not an option

S: we didn’t want to because it was expensive and we didn’t want the meal plan and we were required t olive on campus because we had enough credits to whatever, I don’t know what it was. We didn’t have to.

B: you have a host family right?

S: mm-hmm

B: did they help with the apartment?

S: yeah, when I needed to get stuff from wal-mart they drove me. That made things a lot easier because a lot we needed to carry like pots, and plates. Stuff like that. Then when I moved to my current apartment they helped me as well.

B: what other things besides the apartment and streets did you have to get used to?

S: I guess to people who look very different. We have Americans and Europeans in Malaysia but here you’re surrounded by Americans so; and it takes getting used to just be able to even say hi to strangers. We’d just that’s also something different. We would not start talking to strangers. It’s weird because sometimes you talk for maybe two hours with someone and then you go your own ways and you realize you didn’t ask each other’s names.

B: did you have any cultural shock?

S:  I think that whole talking to strangers was a shock. I know I did go through cultural shock but I don’t know what counts as cultural shock.

B: what was some of your experiences?

S: I don’t know maybe, I don’t know. I think one of it is that I guess, I’m realizing now there’s a lot of individuality so when there’s a group and you want to do something everyone would have to say something about the plan were as, I think in Malaysia a couple people would suggest, decide to do that and then check to see if everyone’s ok with but not really, you know. I think.

B: Can you tell me an experience on when a stranger talked to you?

S: One time, I was walking past Walgreens and this lady at the bus stop just stopped me and asked me about my religion and stuff like that. Not in a bad way, she just wanted to know; it was really interesting. Then there was another lady at a bus stop, who was waiting for the bus with me and my housemate, she just started talking about her family and her son, things like that. It’s not bad it just not something you usually do.

B: when that happened to you what was your response?

S: I just go along with it. I’m a listener. Sometimes I don’t talk much but I listen to people. I like just learning things, and I do a lot of people watching as well. I like observing and

B: the lady who asked about your religion, how did you respond to her?

S: I just answered her questions. She asked why I wear a head covering thing, so I just answered because it’s I think it’s. It makes me feel… I don’t remember the word. Is it precious? Maybe

B: did you say precious?

S: mm-hmm, be another word for that. I’m not sure how to describe it in English. More… yeah I don’t know the word. I don’t have a word for it in English. I guess a word would be more covered but that doesn’t make sense it doesn’t explain anything. That’s what we say in Malay

B: More covered?

S: mm-hmm

B: you mentioned that in primary school you had the afternoon school, and that was religious based. Did Islam have or had a huge impact on your life?

S: I would say yes. That point when I was in primary school I mostly just learned things.  Just as info and then as I grew up I started to make my own ummm I guess form my own beliefs based on what I do know. Yeah so that’s the stage, I learned and then I formed my own beliefs from what I learned and now that I’m older I started comparing to more things that I know now and you know just keep shaping my beliefs.  I think belief is not a static thing.

B:  that’s a hijab right?

S: mm-hmm

B: is the hijab get people to like, has it changed the way people have viewed you?

S: I don’t I’m sometimes oblivious to that sort of thing. I’m sure it has not sure in what way. I think it makes me self conscious a lot at airports, that’s for sure. I always get padded down.

B: really?

S: yeah every time

B: just here or even in Korea?

S: I’m trying to remember in Korea, I don’t think so, I don’t think so in Japan either, I don’t think. I don’t remember. Definitely here. I guess it’s because when you go through that scanner that does your whole body thing they probably see a bunch of stuff in here (gesturing to the back of her head) and they think it’s something when it’s just my hair. It’s very compact hair, sort of.

B: do you wear it in a certain way then?

S: I wear this (showing a second wrap under the hijab) this is what keeps my hair it’s kind of like a beanie but it’s thin; it’s what keeps my hair… in place, sort of.  IF I have longer hair then I would tie a pony tail that I would fit it to the back in this thing, whatever you call it.

B: so there would be just this big ball?

S: yeah, that’s probably why they check

B: do they just pat down your head?

S: well they do the whole body. I don’t know, I don’t mind

B: is your hair short now then?

S: about this length (puts hands a few inches above the shoulder) I started keeping short hair when I had to travel a lot, cause if. Whenever I need to travel I make sure my hair is short enough so that I can take a shower and wash my hair almost every time and have it dry real quick. I wouldn’t want to wear this when my hair is wet, that would be bad.

B:  is there anything you would like to add?

S: to which question or anything?

B: anything? Is there anything you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed

S: I don’t know, like I said if you asked me to talk about something I can’t, but if you ask me questions then I can answer.

B: you said you hadn’t experience any racism in Malaysia have you here?

S: yeah, I think some, when I went to Georgia actually. It was for a conference. So we went to Atlanta then we went to carasol that’s where the conference is, but one day we had some times so my probably partner who was doing the presentation with me, we went to sort of an antiques shop, I think it was an antique shop. I didn’t see anything wrong then but shortly after we went inside my friend pulled me out and said that I probably shouldn’t stay in there long because the shop owner didn’t look too happy about me, which I didn’t notice which she did so she was concerned.

B: what was the conference about?

S: It was philosophy actually, it was on post-colonialism. It was like a mini-symposium thing so we all talked about that topic depending on the reading material we wanted to use, so we had, if maybe three or four material and we both presented on it and talked about it.

B: how did that go?

S: it was good,

B: you went to a conference last week?

S: two weeks ago, I think

B: where was that?

S: Santa Fe, NM

B: what was that for?

S: That was for, so it’s an annual fall meeting of APS, American physical society but the one was the division for nuclear physics. It was one of their meetings, they also had a conference

B: have you been to any other conferences then?

S: I think it was just those two. The rest are just drake stuff lie DUsai

B: you mentioned you went to Florida

S: that was for fun, that was summer two years ago and I also went to California.

B: what did you do in Florida?

S: Universal Studios

B: Is that all you did?

S: yes, for four days. Because we got a four day ticket for to both universal and Island of adventures so we did two day at each

B: how was that?

S: it was a lot of fun. I like rollercoaster’s so I did the rocket one three times maybe, I did the Hulk maybe another three times. They’re fun

B: what did you do in California?

S: I went to LA, Hollywood. Did one of the wax museums, did the sign, did the observatory, walk of fame, is that what it’s called

B: mm-hmmm

S: ok, then we when down to Seal Beach, so went to the beaches there for like winter beach I think then we went up to San Francisco

B: what did you do in San Francisco?

S: we did the piers

B: the piers?

S: pier 39 was it, that’s one of the famous ones. It had a bunch of things, like it had seals, so many seals they’re so cute. It had a zombie game: it’s like a theatre and you each get a gun, and there’s the screen so you each shoot at the screen. They had a bunch of stuff, what else? They had…. They had tours but we didn’t do tours. They had the sour dough thing there; they had we did the bridge of course

B: did you eat any sour dough?

S: we did

B: how did you like it?

S: its ok I didn’t like the outer part of the bread. I just ate the inside so I just left an outer shell in the end. Did the bridge and some part of china town. There’s a hard rock café there with a huge guitar. Also in Hollywood we did, we walked around the… They had china town, mini Japan, is that what they call it? Yeah they had mini Japan

B: so you went to mini Japan?

S: yeah, they had mini Japan [little Tokyo] and I think they had Korea town as well

B: what did you think of those places?

S: They’re interesting I think. I like Japan town the most I think, cause it’s like they have sort of like Japanese infrastructure. They had the gate thing at the entrance, the shops were interesting and they had people playing nice music in the area I guess. We walked around a lot in LA

B:  did you also go to the Universal Studios in LA?

S:  No, I almost did but naugh. Yeah, it’s actually interesting story, we won’t supposed to go down to seal beach we were supposed to go down to the ports, the cruise ports, cause we were supposed to go on a cruise down to Mexico, but then we both didn’t think of it at all that we were leaving the country to go to Mexico so that when we wanted to go back in we would need a document like our I-20 a document, we didn’t bring that , so we couldn’t go on the trip but our luggage already made it on the trip; so we were stuck for the next, I think 4 night and 5 days without our luggage. Luckily I remembered that our friend had family nearby and that how we ended up in Seal Beach, that’s where they are. We made new friends, and got some new adventures

B:  what did you do about clothes?

S:  I at least had some in my backpack. I had underwear and some toiletry, but I needed to buy some pants to sleep in and I think I bought a shirt. Yeah, it was interesting

B: Is there any place you’d want to go before going back home?

S: Everywhere. I don’t know maybe, I wanna go walk around Texas maybe. I have at least two friends there that I would like to meet, but very unlikely.

B: where in Texas would you like to go?

S: I don’t know where’s a good place? Is Dallas a good place?


S: I don’t know if I have time for that. Or California would be nice to go again, because I have a friend now and would be nice to meet though she might come down here. I would like to go to Colorado, it’s pretty. When I was coming back from Santa Fe we had a delay in Denver, so on the way their we had an afternoon flight so I could see the mountains and stuff, it was really pretty.

B: is there anything you would want to do in Colorado?

S: not really, well, maybe ski. My housemate went there to ski; I couldn’t go with them because I had the conference in Georgia. I still kind of want to go to Six Flags but they would be closed by now

B: which one?

S: I don’t know any where. Isn’t there one in Ohio? I know there’s one in Chicago

B: I don’t know… I think there’s one in Ohio, yeah they might be closed by now, you’d have to come back

S: probably, although they do have this supper cool roller coaster in Australia that goes 120 degrees so you go down but also slightly backwards.

B: So you want to go to Australia then?

S: Australia is closer. We have low fair flights going to Australia from Malaysia.

B: have you been to Australia?

S: I haven’t I’ll probably will. I’ll bring some friends with me.