[My lovely younger sister who is currently studying medicine in Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) wrote this article for the Malaysian students over there. I would like to proudly share it with you guys. Kinda change my perspective about the Arabs too. Enjoy!]
~ A pair of new glasses ~ by A.J
Story of friendship, humor and about promoting Malaysia ^^
Stepping into *4th year was like changing new glasses for me. It made me view almost everything in a new perspective. Well, not exactly everything. But most of them, especially the way I view my fellow Arab colleagues. Needless to say, if I didn’t get the chance to know them as well as how I know them today, they would remain merely ‘just Arabs’ ! Yup, just ‘those Arabs’ (that’s how we used to call them). Everyone would seem to have the same pointy nose, same fair skin, same round eyes and same thick eyebrows. My friends and I used to have many negative impressions about them. Especially when it comes to attitude and respect towards others.
Well, that was how I felt back then, with my ‘old glasses’.
However, after 3 long years, I finally got the chance to change into my new glasses. SubhanAllah (praise be to Allah), to my surprise the so called ‘Arabs’ no longer look the same! Physically, they haven’t changed that much but what’s different now is that I can now really see what’s inside their hearts!
I would say it was kind of a miracle for me.
But to think of it, anyone would have been able to do so if they were in my shoes at that time.
Throughout my whole 4th year, whether I liked it or not, I had no choice but to face the same people every single day. From 8.00am to 3.00pm, I had to mingle with the same lot.
They were the ones I talked to each day. The ones I *rode buses back and forth with (while trying to bear with their out-of-track voices singing throughout the whole journey). The ones I borrowed *measuring tapes from whenever I forgot to bring them. The ones who made me laugh with their childish jokes despite how many times I admitted I couldn’t understand it. The ones who offered me their seats when I came in late. The ones who treated me a pack of chips during break.
Yes, anyone sane enough would agree that they were VERY GOOD FRIENDS. Honestly, I had never imagined of having friends as good as them. The whole group completed each other. I had the most wonderful time being with them. Yet again, I thank Allah infinitely for giving me that second chance to know them in a different way. I now proudly regard them as part of my life here in this foreign land called Jordan.
Back then, it was quite a scary feeling to imagine how the three of us Malay girls, destined by fate, would have to face a whole struggling year with 13 other strangers whom we never knew before. How will they accept us? Will they look down on us? Will they cooperate with us? Will we be able to blend in and understand what they say? Thankfully, all those questions ended with positive answers.
As a group, we shared all the ups and downs together. We made jokes when the environment seemed tense, we rejoined two people who were quarreling, we celebrated birthdays and bought presents, we invited each other to our homes, we cooked and exchanged dishes, and we did so many other things which friends do with each other. The most valuable thing we did together that broke the barrier between two cultures was – we taught each other our native languages!
I owe 70% of my Arabic that I have today to my friends in A8 (the name of our group). They were like mobile dictionaries. Anytime, anywhere, they were always ready to translate words for us. If we didn’t ask, they would be the ones who asked us whether or not we understood. It is kind of funny remembering how they were so concerned on how we were going to face our first *OSCE in Arabic. I actually emailed the head of our group (C.R) with a long list of medical terms for him to translate into Arabic. I did felt guilty of burdening him with that long list to be translated a few days before our big exam, but I couldn’t resist his offer in helping us with whatever he could. Thanks to you, dear C.R., I can still remember the words up until now.
To repay their deeds, I offered to teach them Malay language. Not in a formal class, but simply by teaching them the words that came across our minds back then. Most of the time they were adjectives, sometimes names of organs, food and places.
I would love to share with you one unforgettable incident: –
‘M’ was one of my group mates. He was actually the most committed ‘student’ when it came to learning Malay language. He used to ask about how we say certain Arabic words in our own language. He also wasn’t shy at all to try and pronounce them. Even if they sounded very funny to us, especially when it comes to saying words with ‘ing’ at the back.
One day, M came up to me after our lecture and handed me two pieces of paper. Written on them were 3 pages of English words in red ink.
‘” Can you please translate these in Malay language?”, he asked.
“Huh? All of these?” I turned the papers up and down to recheck.
I could find almost all the common adjectives, verbs, even some numbers and the names of days.
“Are you sure?”, I asked. Just to make sure he wasn’t joking like he always does.
“Yeah, of course. If you don’t mind, that is” he replied.
I was so overwhelmed on how interested he was in learning Malay. You don’t get to see such interest in many Arabs nowadays. So I agreed to return him the translated words the next day.
After accepting the papers with such joy and gratefulness, M promised me that he would go back home and memorize all of them. Well, I didn’t expect him to actually do so but I was amazed on how he appreciated the knowledge.
The next day, while waiting for the Doctor to come, he came to me with a meaningful smile.
“Hey, guess what? I memorized some of the Malay words you wrote for me yesterday!” he declared with excitement.
“Really? I’m impressed, M! You really are a bright student! Can you tell me what you managed to memorize?” I tried to test him.
“Hmm, okay let’s see”, he turned around to look for something. He called upon our C.R.
“K, come here!” K came with an innocent face, not knowing what was going on.
Bear in mind that K is actually quite big in size and M is very skinny. The real opposite of each other. They both just love teasing each other with all sorts of crazy ideas. They would even end up chasing each other like small children with K wishing that he could crush M like how he crumples a piece of paper. On the other hand, M would always find a way to beat K with his non-stop annoying words.
“Now, I will try to describe the both of us”, M began, holding on to K’s arm .
“Saya (I am)…….kurus (thin)……,” trying his best to pronounce it right.
“Okay, you got that one right”, I replied to let him know he was doing alright.
“K…….hmm, what’s that word…hold on”, he paused for a few seconds and then continued.
“Hmm, K………is…….tebal (thick)!!!”, he said with such confidence.
Ya Allah! At that time, only Allah knew how I tried my best not to laugh. I could just barely hold my breath. The best that I could do was to let go a really big smile. He looked confused with how I reacted. He wanted to know if he mentioned anything wrong, which he obviously did.
After a few minutes, when I was able to get a grip of myself, I finally told him the mistake he did and I corrected him. When he knew about it, he laughed along too.
Until now, I can still remember that incident. I sometimes even regard K as ‘Si Tebal’ (The Thick One) whenever I talk about him to my housemates who knew about this incident.
Such memories tied us together as a group until now. Even though we have all separated into different groups this year, I can assure you that my glasses have not been changed. And I don’t wish to change them anymore. I like the glasses I have now, because I always see my friends from the inside.
– in memory of A8, 08/09 –
*4th year = the first year of clinical lessons (meeting real patients in wards and clinics)
*rode buses to go to other hospitals outside the university
*measuring tapes are required to measure a child’s head circumference / a swelling leg etc
*OSCE = objective structured clinical examination, where the student is presented with a real/stimulated patient and he has to gather relevant information from the patient (the examiner will be at the patient’s side to observe and give marks)