OPINION BY YEE HOI MUN
Upon my arrival at Morehouse Hall, the first person I met was my roommate, who is, coincidentally, Malaysian, and an acquaintance of mine. We transferred to Drake from the same university back in Malaysia, Taylor’s University, and somehow got paired together.
The fact that my roommate would be Malaysian and someone I know caused mixed reactions from myself.
On one hand, settling in would be easier as establishing connections would be less problematic when you can meet people through yourself AND through another person. However, I was secretly hoping to get an American roommate because I wanted the full American experience.
My wish was granted to my Malaysian neighbor in room 229, Ming, though. I only met Ming Tong Ang, otherwise known as Ming, here at Drake but we became fast friends, mostly because we are both immature young adults if not because of our nationality.
I went over to his room to ask him some questions regarding his background and his American roommate from Minnesota. Despite us both being from Malaysia, our backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Ming had lived in Jenjarom, a small town in Selangor state, all his life prior to coming here.
“I had never traveled outside Malaysia before this and had never really been out of Jenjarom much, so in comparison, Des Moines is a metropolis,” Ming said.
However, when you come from a country so famed for its cuisine, adjusting to meals in another country can be a challenge.
“I am not used to the food here at all, particularly the vegetables and rice,” Ming said. “In Malaysia, we always cook our vegetables but they seem to like their greens raw here. The rice they cook here is also different. Most Malaysians eat white rice exclusively but that’s not the case here.”
When asked about his adjustments to dorm and college life, Ming was much more positive and had only good things to say about his roommate, Brad, and most locals he has met here.
“Brad is really friendly; we get along really well and chat frequently,” Ming said. “He has also taught me a lot of new things. Actually, I think most Americans I have met are like that, they love greeting and smiling to people, we don’t see that back in Malaysia.”
“The people here are generally more sociable and pay a lot of attention to details when communicating. They don’t tell you half of a story and leave the other half ambiguous,” Ming said.
Having gotten Ming’s words down, I turned to his roommate Brad for his opinion on having a foreign roommate and his views of Malaysians.
“It’s fun. I do have friends from France and Germany, but none from outside the western world,” Sandeen said.
“I only had a vague image about Malaysia before I found out my roommate was going to be Malaysian, so I looked the country up on Wikipedia,” Sandeen said.
“I feel like the Malaysian students here fit in pretty well,” Sandeen said. “Not just in residence halls, but throughout campus because most of you guys speak good English.”