Ohana Means Family

6:35 PM

It is so crazy that it's September! Today also marks exactly 2 months in this country which is equally crazy and twice as unbelievable.
It's been a month of change, both internally and among my surroundings. I guess the most glaringly obvious change around me is that I've switched host families. I am lucky enough to be spending the rest of the year with my Raya family! I'm really excited about this since the bond we struck up was almost instant. I'm very thankful to my first host family for hosting me, things didn't work out as well as hoped and it made sense for me to leave.They weren't bad people or anything like that, our connection was simply not as successful as hoped. I'm also thankful to AFS for letting me stay with this family, as I know it was difficult to process the new information.
Although it's hard to get accustomed to a new family's routine and customs, I'm so glad I'm here. This family is a great fit for me... And they have internet!
This family is Malay and Muslim; it's really neat seeing how living with a family of a different race in the same country makes for a really different experience. I have two sisters and a brother, but the older sister doesn't live at home as she is studying. The other siblings are younger than me, 13 and 11 and although we're still shy around each other, I know we will warm up eventually. My host parents are both really involved with their jobs. They work a lot, but so does my family in the US, so I'm used to it.  I'm still settling in and getting used to everything in the family, but so far so good.
Family pictures!

on Hari Raya

Umi and me!

At an open house

When I said it's been a month of change, I wasn't kidding. Sights that used to seem so foreign, (hibiscus, driving on the other side of the ride, clouds settling on the green mountains in the horizon) don't even cause me to blink now. The never-ending heat doesn't seem so unbearable now, and eating without using hands has suddenly become strange and unfamiliar. It's second nature to salam and first nature to be constantly eating.
I guess this is the period of surface adjustment, the time in exchange where you've mastered and understand the visible parts of a culture. Malaysia seems to be more familiar and comfortable with each day that passes, and despite the few cringe-inducing awkward moments or cultural mishaps, I'm starting to feel at home here. It's a strange position, a bizarre middle ground,  feeling more adapted than a tourist but not yet at the point where one feels like a normal Malaysian teen. It's straddling the line between guest and resident, the invisible point where culture shock ends and cultural assimilation begins. It's knowing that this country is yours to explore for another 10 months, but not knowing where to begin.
The title of my post is a Lilo and Stitch quote. "Ohana means family, family means no one left behind or forgotten." For those who don't know the story, Lilo finds an alien, Stitch, and wants to take him in as a family member. She is raised by her sister after a car crash leaves her an orphan. Like Stitch, I find myself in a new situation, but I too have been taken in. AFS stresses that every host family is a gift, they come in all shapes and sizes, and are willing to let total strangers live in their house for a year until they too become part of the family. Ohana means family, and family means people that care for you, no matter how far away you are from the people that raised you. 

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  1. yes girl, nice writing, nice blog, cute girl...anyway it's the same for me, being in Cleveland OH for 4 years did change my view of Americans...not like what i learn from movies and whatnot

  2. yeah from movies we thought all Americans were muscular liked Arnold SusahNakEja or beautiful liked Kate Winslet and from movies we learned we owed a lot to the Americans for saving the world countless times (deep impact, battleship, captain America and many more). The truth is America is just like any others, mixture of beautifuls and beasts, richs and poors bla bla. What is my point here ...errr.. Sorry Hannah, lost in words .... oh yes..., there is beauty in diversity. cheers, and enjoy Malaysia

  3. Hi ...have a look at these comments about what you write:





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