Nawal Alqudci, VP Finance, MACES

“What was I thinking?” that was the first question that I asked myself when I first stepped foot in Canada (Banff, to be specific). It was -15degrees in April, and coming from a country with scorching hot and humid weather where I had to google ‘appropriate Canadian spring clothes’ before arriving, made me feel like a 5-year-old who had just been lied to by her mother because she asked where babies come from. Then, my jaw dropped when I first saw the famous Canadian Rockies. “It’s so beautiful here, I’ll be fine, I don’t think I’ll ever miss Malaysia.” Oh dear, if only I could go back in time and tell my naïve self (and maybe flick her forehead too), you are so so wrong.

There is a Malay proverb saying, ‘It may rain gold in someone else’s country, and be hailing stones back in your own country, and yet it is best to be back in your own country.’ The saying has never been truer. I have not missed Malaysian food, people, language, and sun, this much before.

  1. Food

92.9% (numbers may not be accurate – for your information) of Malaysians are hot and spicy food addicts. We cannot live without our ‘Sambal’. And let me define ‘Sambal’ first. It is a condiment that complements almost every meal, and it has many versions, a complex flavour that combines all at once which are spicy, hot and strong taste of spices. It is red in colour, half-watery, and sometimes you will feel your behind burning after eating it. I remember being asked by a German friend, “why do you torture yourself with such spicy food?” Well, we Malaysians like to live our lives dangerously through food!


Also, in South East Asia, there is this fruit called ‘Durian’ where it stinks so bad that it is prohibited on most flights and hotels. I remember watching a video of people eating durian, describing the shape as odd and odour as turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. I know it does not sound very enticing, but I assure you the flavour is so good. It has a texture of creamy cheesecake and custardy taste, and depending on the type of Durians, sometimes they are really sweet, and some are bitter. Also, being that durian are “heaty”, the rule is they should not be eaten with other “heaty” foods or beverages such as coffee, sambal or curry. But we can’t live without our sambal, so sometimes we took the risk, and we fell sick, but we came back stronger.


  1. The language

Similar to Canada, Malaysia is diverse country, containing many different ethnicities, languages and religions. Malay is the official language of the nation while English is the most widely spoken second language of the people. Every language, be it Malay, English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hindi or Tamil, is heavily modified with local slang in order to convey emotions, effectively reducing the need for many regular utility words. This blatant cannibalism of languages may drive any linguist mad, but to us Malaysians, it is an endearing trait that brings the people close. Only in Malaysia, where one can speak 4 languages in one sentence perfectly – and add ‘lah’ to each sentence just to intensify the meaning.


  1. The weather

As mentioned earlier, Malaysia has scorching hot weather, there are no spring, winter or fall seasons. Instead, there are summer and ultra-summer seasons all year round. And like every other Asian residing in Canada, I miss the times where I don’t have to check my weather forecast app before leaving home and the time when I can wear t-shirts and flip-flops to go out regardless of what time of the year it is. Also again, like very other Asian, we whine about the hot weather when we’re back there. We blame all our sicknesses on it, and we curse it should the need to step outdoors arises, yet we miss it very much now.