Induction Week, Social Stuff & FOOD!!!

So I mentioned in my last post that I would be dedicating a whole post to the induction process the school ran for all new starters. I can't over state how amazing the whole process was in helping us all to settle into our new lives in Malaysia. I should also point out that due to arriving late because of the issues I had with the Visa application process I did miss out on some of the bits and pieces (See my previous posts). That said, I was there for the vast majority of the process.

Accommodation 

Yes, that is actually my pool!!!! 
This one is going to be split down into two different areas, our amazing hotel (Note the sarcasm), and finding your forever home.

Lets start with the hotel. I literally had no idea that a hotel room could be so small, but it turns out that you can fit a double bed into a cupboard. The hotel that we were put up in was tiny, and the rooms even more so, that said it was very well presented, clean and the beds were comfortable. It was, however, really nice to have everyone in the same location and meant that you didn't feel so isolated. 

Breakfast was by far the most sociable time, with us all coming together before the minibus would come to collect us. I have a feeling that the staff felt a little overwhelmed with the number of us all ordering at the same time as they were a little slow meaning a few of us missed our food. As it turns out this wasn't the end of the world as the school also provided some form of food for when we arrived each day. I cannot over state how amazing it is to be able to have a bowl of cereal when your offering prior to that was a clod chicken sausage and egg at the hotel. 

My advise to anyone in a similar position where by the school provides a hotel is this; expect basic but functional. The hotel was clearly geared to short stays of just a few days and I found myself spending as little time in it as possible.

Onto the joys of finding the forever home. I'm using that term as it turns out they really like 2 year leases, which happens to also be the length of most peoples contracts. 

Once again the school went above and beyond to support the new staff arriving from overseas. Prior to our arrival they had sent us a list of properties and rough guide prices to allow us to narrow down they type of property and location. We then had agents assigned to us, I think it might be good at this point to explain that the school simply put us in touch with them, they were in no way affiliated ad we were free to find our own if we chose. The agent I had was truly amazing and showed me around so many different properties, all whilst 9 months pregnant. 

In the end I decided to go for a property that was bit further away from the school but had bigger apartments and more for my young family to do. Almost all of the accommodation in Kuala Lumpur is of a condominium style, to say that it almost feels like you are living in a holiday resort. My complex has an amazing pool, indoor badminton courts, basketball and tennis facilities, kids play areas (2 of), a gym and a lot more besides. 

A whole lot of money for the deposit! EEK.
The whole experience of getting the apartment was daunting to say the least, the worst part was the finances involved. It seems normal practice for anyone renting from outside of the country to have to put down a minimum of 3 months rent in advance (including your first months payment, so 2 months as a deposit) AND a month as a deposit for utilities. In real terms that means a cash payment of anywhere between 10000RM and 15000RM depending on the property (For those of you in the UK, that's £2000 and £3000). 

Getting the deposit together for the apartment in a strange country is difficult at best, nearly impossible at worst. For me it came down to taking out the maximum possible on both my UK debit card and credit card in order to just about scrape that kind of cash together. You could do an international bank transfer, but for that you need a local account and it takes time, neither of which I had. 

Money

So, one of the big problems was finances, but again the school really did help. They arranged for a local bank to come in and set accounts up for us, although we are free to chose another one if we want. This meant that we had a debit card and bank account in time for our first salary payment to go into, this could have taken quite a bit longer had they not helped us. 

On the note of banks in Malaysia, be warned, its very different from the UK. A lot of day to day things like bill payment, registering you card, changing personal details, etc are all done through the banks own ATM's. This means that it's easy to sort a lot of stuff out without the internet which is very useful. 

Once you do have everything sorted you can do all the same types of things online as you can in the UK. That said it does take a bit of getting used to as their security systems are very different, primarily using OTP (One Time Passwords). Just make sure you have your phone handy at all times and you will be fine.

Social

Getting together next to the pool at my appartment.
One of the most important, and best, bits of moving to a new country has to be the opportunity to get to know people from different walks of life. With that in mind, boy you could have an amazingly packed social life if that's what you chose to do, you would be exhausted, but it would be fun.

My school put on loads of great events for us to meet all the staff, old and new, over the 2 weeks of the induction. There were trips into Kuala Lumpur city center, walks in the rain forest, dinners out and lots of trips to the bars. It can be a bit daunting, but trust me when I say this, if you just let your guard down you will have an amazing time. Besides, whats the worst that cold happen? (OK, there have been a few drunk nights)

The amazing Banana Roti, a must try!!!
On the note of food, one of my first comments to friends and family at home was how amazing the selection over here is. It truly is a reflection of how multicultural the country is and you can get almost anything you want from most of the world, even fish and chips if you really wanted. 

I can really recommend the local Malay food, it's sort of a mix of all the best bits, but everything is spicy, so be warned. My personal favorite is the Roti which is a bit like a cross between a pancake and a naan bread, it comes with a curry sauce dip but you can have various flavors. It's always cooked fresh and is absolutely stunning, try it, you wont regret it.

I know I'll be adding a lot more about all the amazing things to do and see as the weeks go on, so keep an eye out for those posts. 

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