The Summer Break Series: Questions & Answers.

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A view of the city of Miri, viewed from Canada Hills where the Grand Old Lady resides.

Hello again from Miri, where I have now settled in for three weeks. Being here has been such a blessing and the experiences, so incredibly golden. Where do I start?

Kicked off the experience with a most eventful week and although these past two weeks have been more or less subdued, there is no denying what is it I feel: so happy. So happy my heart sometimes genuinely feels like it is bursting. This place, despite its sleepy feel and obviously small developed area – Miri itself is the second largest town in Sarawak, but the area where the “city” is is simply a stretch, probably 30 minutes travel time one-way from each end – is seriously doing a fantastic job in setting my heart at ease. My travels itself around East Malaysia seem to work out pretty nicely – Labuan last Monday, Brunei this Sunday, Kota Kinabalu next weekend (with a stop offshore for project!) and Kuching the week after, where I may or may not tighten loose ends.

I know why I am slowly falling a little bit in love with this place, with East Malaysia most especially; the issues, the stories, the people … They feel relevant. Rooted. This is every bit my country after all and hearing the stories and the like – causes I would like to fight for, they make sense. I am slowly learning because indeed I’ve lived a life most privileged and sheltered, but it doesn’t mean I can’t empathize and lack compassion or sense. I’ve been learning about the society, the community; they’re so different than the main island Malaysians, yet they’re so much more Malaysian than anyone else I know. I’ve been moved so many times in this short span of three weeks that it’s incredible.

Lately, I sometimes entertain the idea of planting roots here. There’s so much to discover – the natural wonders, my God! I am in awe – and so many different places yet to visit. So far I am really loving the overall society; they’re not quite modern, but it’s nice. Wanting to stay here however, means entertaining the idea of the offer from the sponsor actually happening … Of it happening and of accepting, to be more exact.

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Lush rainforest at Lambir National Park.

And here’s the part where I feel like I’ve been in on my own joke – I was mighty excited at this internship stint when I found out about it, but I did not once quite frankly ever entertain the idea of actually enjoying the stay here as much as I do right now to consider relocating here for a period of time. But now I’m here and even with the sponsor, there are lots of aspects about the company that I like on a first, or a few, impression basis. Coming here, I had initially thought, would provide answers to some plaguing questions. Instead, like with the project, I find myself with more questions and not quite sure how or where to obtain the answers.

Truth is, I am also fully aware of the fact that the main reason why things feel so good right now, why this entire experience and being here feels so damn enjoyable is because it is quite simply, a pseudo-reality. An extended holiday. 10 weeks to do my thing, but also to just enjoy whatever and tread lightly; Real Life and that ever-plaguing question is finally on pause somewhat.

But is it really, could it possibly be? That the lure of East Malaysia trumps that of the US of A?

I called Eldest Sis, the former personal mentor, last night and ended up on the phone with her for a good 1.5 hours without realizing it. There were so many different issues touched upon – one in particular is seriously plaguing – and one of it was this: what if the job offer comes and I accept? I like the work environment, in terms of their company philosophy they’re in-line with my own personal ethos and the money is obviously incredibly lucrative. In Malaysian terms, they’re literally top of the crop and over here where engineers are grossly underpaid, such isn’t the case here. In short, now I find myself considering and almost wanting of the job offer.

Yet surprisingly, she didn’t seem to agree with my sentiments. She started off pointing out the obvious: it’s a pseudo reality right now, which is why it feels so good. Then she went on to say if I were a permanent employee it’d be completely different. It might not be what I wanted and I’ll always have that nagging feeling of not having gone far enough (graduate school) when I could have had the chance right before me.

There is also the fact, I am aware, that this is as safe a safety net as it gets. Not having to go through the job search process and all that. Sometimes despite all these first-hand experiences I am receiving, I do feel a nagging feeling: I want myself to like this so bad, enough to do it for life. I want to like the oil and gas industry so much because this is where the money is. … Except quite frankly, I never had the slightest interest in them prior to this and more or less I still feel so now. My passion in water resources … It does not lie here. I can develop myself to do a great job at it in the event I stay I think, but you know what they say: one cannot fool oneself.

So here I am, incredibly conflicted yet at the same time, incredibly happy.

I’ve found myself companionship here in a few of the interns I’d gotten to know – such funny, awesome people they are – and travel and hangout buddies in two guy friends, both of whom I’d gotten to know during my college days and recently reconnected because we just happen to be here, now together. There’s also my housemate and her friend who provides me transport to work plus strangers-turned-friends; so many good company. I am incredibly blessed and grateful. Now being able to so easily go up to a stranger and befriend the person, I find myself feeling more secure at the thought that I will be able to adapt and grow to like wherever I am and whatever I end up doing.

Except… Could this be permanent? Isn’t it great exactly because it’s temporary?

Too many questions and I’m trying so damn hard to seek for answers.

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