Dear reader, you have been a part of our extraordinary adventures, getting to know famous destinations – cities and beautiful nature. Before this we have never shown you our ordinary days and their surroundings, and it is high time for that! This has been our reality for the past four months. We have reached almost the end of this semester and all our lectures have finished already. The final exams are waiting us around the corner, and we won’t be walking these streets that many times any more. So here you go, welcome to Penang and University of Sains Malaysia.
Our schedule was changing often, so the mornings did not always start very early. Anyways, most of the time the sun shines behind the curtains when we wake up. And every single day the heat is guaranteed, from 28 degrees upwards. We live in the fifth floor and the view from the window is great. Sea, sun and mountains! Regardless of the tempting views, we had to stay firm and pack our bags for school. It is hard to study when everything around you screams VACATION.
The next struggle between head and heart comes when we reach the pool downstairs. Palm trees, endless sun and turquoise water… Even if the condominium is already a bit dated, the pool still brings us joy and refreshment even on normal school days.
It is typical in Asian countries that the quality of tap water is not good enough for drinking. Even the shower area and teakettle have been coloured orange from all the copper in the water over here. In the beginning we bought bottles of water downstairs from our mini market, for a price we considered cheap (RM 1.30=0,30 €). After some time we noticed how all the residents were using the water dispensers on our yard. We asked some reviews from school friends and they said it is completely safe and even cheaper. Since then we have been filling bottles in the machine for RM 0,10 per 500 ml. That would be about 2 cents per half a litre in euros. Everyday we get ready for commuting to school and fill our bottles for the day ahead.
Time to say hello to little cat friends living in the yard. They come in all colours and ages. They are quite scared of people and like to lie on the hot stones under the sun all day long.
Our condominium is guarded 24h a day, even though a few times we caught the guards inside the cubicle fast asleep. The entrance barrier has also proven to be dangerous for walkers after Daniil almost finished his days when trying to run through under it before it closes. Luckily he is still here with us 😉
The next point of danger on our way to school is situated close to our home. Penang is not meant for walkers, there is literally almost no room or reasonable streets for them. Same goes with the cross roads and zebra crossings. Hello death! It is a true process to cross this big road. It is extremely busy and there are no chances of randomly running through it, you must follow the system. Even if you follow all the rules, be aware of the motorbikes. They do as they wish; darting around like maniacs, driving through red lights, making U-turns, carrying babies between parents and groceries on little scooters and sometimes even traveling to the wrong direction. Sometimes we had to wait five minutes for the lights to change red, then run to the middle of the crossroads, check for the rule breakers and walk on the side of the cars until we reached the road for walkers.
This road isn’t safe either. You may confront the occasional dead snakes, pavement full of holes and missing tiles. You must watch down all the way to school to avoid dropping into the ditch or spraining your ankle on the broken tiles. This all sounds way too fun but it truly isn’t in the 30 degrees and under the burning sun. Sweat guaranteed!
Before the school gates there is a complex of little shops and restaurants. We visit them mainly for the mini-markets, restaurant with wifi and for the numerous printing and scanning shops.
The school gates are guarded as well, but on top of the students, teachers and other staff, they let in other residents heading for the mosque or to do their post and banking business inside the campus. The university campus itself is like a little village; it has more than everything you could imagine. We have here hospitals, student dorms, numerous restaurants, sporting and swimming facilities, banks, post offices and the list goes on!
As mentioned earlier, we are doing mainly Management courses so many of our lectures are situated in the same building. We walk through this big park to enjoy some shadow under the trees. Actually, the plants inside the campus are pretty amazing! Of course here as well you can see lots of palm trees, but also lots of other new trees, fruits and nuts you have never come across with earlier. They really make this place nicer and we will definitely miss the greenness of this country.
The funny fact is that most of the school buildings, including hallways and toilets are open. This means that many of the windows are without glasses and leaves fly inside from wall-less structures. These toilets in the pictures are completely outside, so sometimes you might meet up with lizard or two inside there. This happens inside as well though but not quite so often. Over half of the toilets are hole-in-the-ground-types and rest are normal ones. Paper is never provided, neither soap nor hand drying options.
This is how the hallway looks like inside the DK-building. Most of the classrooms are like auditoriums with seats situated in different levels and they come with mobile tables. The classrooms have strong air conditioning and bad electronic equipment. Many times there were issues with the Internet or cables connecting computers to the white screen and half of the lesson was spent trying to figure out what went wrong.
Nobody has printers at home and they don’t have them in libraries either. Instead they have little printing shops where you may print or scan or copy papers for about RM 0,10 per paper. Usually the lines are long and people start editing their files on the PC’s even when there is a long queue of customers waiting behind them.
Next to the printing and hot dog shop (halal) is one of the many lunch spots. This one offers traditional Malay portions; chicken, rice, noodles, soups and spicy sauces. On top of that they serve different traditional pastries such as delicious spring rolls and fried sweet potatoes. On the cashier the worker looks at your plate and gives you a price to pay, by cash of course. A fun fact: knives are never offered, since most of the people eat with fork and spoon or by hand. That’s why there is always a sink for washing hands inside every restaurant.
One place that is missing from this post is the library, more specifically the computer room with the only reasonable Internet! Otherwise this is an overview from most of our days at school. After lectures we either spend time finishing tasks in the library, or head home or to one of the shopping centers to eat or visit the gym at. Hope you liked this day with us!
Written by Kia
Pictures by Daniil