On Wednesday, I got the awesome opportunity to take my camera into my school to take some pictures and videos of school life! First, however, I've made a list of 10 apparent need-to-know facts one needs to know in order to survive in a Malaysian school:
1. DON'T bring your phone, laptop, or camera to school. Or at least don't use it during school hours. All Malaysian schools ban bringing electronic devices to school (I got special permission from a teacher to bring my camera to school).
2. When a teacher enters or leaves a classroom, stand up and greet the teacher in unison with your classmates.
To tell you the truth, I thought my classmates were pranking me during my first day at school, but after a couple of periods that day, I realized they weren't kidding about the greeting.
3. The students of a class stay in one classroom throughout the duration of the school day. Teachers for different subjects come to the classroom to teach a certain class. A class might go to the lab for long Science classes.
4. IT GETS EXTREMELY WARM IN THE CLASSROOMS. There is no air conditioning in the classrooms, but there are about 4 fans in the entire room. I've been able to adjust relatively well to the heat of the country (due to my 15 years of intense training in the sweltering Houston, Texas heat), but I still sweat sometimes, and my classmates here describe it as "unbearable." When there are power outages (5 in the last 3 days for me), you will definitely feel unbearably hot.
One of the 4 fans in the room. The fans actually make the classroom really breezy.
5. BRUNCH-this is definitely one of the hardest transitions for me. Here in Malaysia, school ends between 1:05 and 1:45 depending on the day. So, we don't have a lunch break; instead, we have a "brunch break" around 10:00 that lasts 20 minutes. We can go down to the canteen and get something to eat and drink during this time.
A nice view of the very crowded canteen
A fresh fruit juice shop inside the canteen
A shot of two food stalls in the canteen
6. During one class period, you could potentially hear English, Malay, Arabic, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, and other Chinese dialects. For sure. In my class alone, English, Malay, Tamil, Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, and a couple other Chinese dialects are spoken. As of the last few weeks, I have been in the process of teaching my classmates some Spanish.
A look into my classroom
8. There are two school timings: morning and afternoon. The morning group usually consists of Forms 3-6 and has school from 7:20 to about 1:00. The afternoon group usually consists of Forms 1 and 2 and has school from about 1:00 or 1:30 to 6:30 or so. During the month of Ramadan, school is shorter for both groups.
9. The usual uniform is the national uniform: for guys, a white button-down shirt, white/green pants, white belt, white socks, and white shoes, along with a school tie, nametag, and school patch; for girls, either a white and blue baju kurung or a pinafore over a white shirt. On Fridays, there are Muslim prayers, so boys are allowed to wear a white and blue baju melayu. fon't be out of uniform. Missing your white socks, school tie, or even your nametag can earn you academic and/or extracurricular demerits. Unlike in the U.S., you don't get a warning or a detention for being out of uniform. It goes straight to points dropped.
Typical Malaysian Uniform
10. School is REALLY FUN. I don't always understand what is going on in class, but getting to meet and talk with some of the students in my school has been really awesome. I've been able to learn more about Malaysia and Bahasa Melayu, teach others about the U.S. eliminate false or exaggerated stereotypes, and make really good friends over the past month. Without them, I would not have had the same experience I'm having now. I'm so grateful that I have so many great friends at school, and they have made my experience so amazing so far.
Here are some pictures for everyone to see. I hope they give you a glimpse into my school.
A view of the garden and the path leading to the bathrooms
Satu Malaysia! Quote by Mahatma Gandhi.
The front of the school
A statue inside a school pavilion area
The badminton courts are literally right in the middle of my school building!