I was watching this telemovie ‘Tanah Kubur’ (Graveyard) yesterday morning, and there’s a scene where the son of the deceased flew off to the US even before his father was buried. His mother said to the imam sadly, “If I knew he’d become this way, I wouldn’t have sent him overseas.”

Wait a minute.

What does living overseas has to do with being a bad son, I wonder? Would he have been a better person had he stayed in Malaysia all his life?

I really am tired with this stigma, with this stereotypical kind of thinking amongst many of us Malaysians. Especially as a government doctor, they sort of put a “bad doctor” stamp once they know that you’re an overseas graduate. The way our, emm…’beloved’, Tan Sri Ismail Merican does.

Now, I’m not going to talk about good doctors-bad doctors, or good accountants-bad accountants thingy. I’m talking about life today.

One of the worst stereotypes I’ve heard was this, “You know, people who graduate from overseas colleges tend to have less friends compared to those who graduate locally. See, my father came back from Canada being almost friendless, and my mother graduated from UM, look how many friends and important contacts she has. You, for instance, have less friends than I do.”

Wow, wow, wow….wait a minute! Say what??

Apparently there’s not as many Malaysians in a class over there in UK, Ireland or wherever, and over here there’s so many of them that by the time one reaches 50, all the important people across the nation were your friends.

Apparently staying overseas exposes you to so much ‘bad influence’ and deviant way of life. Don’t you think if you survive all that you’re a stronger person?

Apparently those who are studying overseas are not close to their parents, hence are not good sons/daughters.

Guess what, generally those who has stayed outside their motherland are at least more independant, more confident, street-smart, and survive better when thrown somewhere strange. We’re used to using alternative ingredients to cook, we’d cook from scratch, look for our houses (and a tougher challenge – housemate), move between houses, pay our own bills, handle our own problems (rather than run to mummy/daddy for every single small problems), cook our own ‘kenduris’, plan for transport to college/work, saving for travels, book our own tickets home, hold our own parties, choose our own friends etc etc. All these are done at an age as tender as 19.

We’re less likely to suffer ‘manjalitis’ – a disease of extra dependance and attention seeking behaviour. We’re more likely to appreciate our time with our loved ones, as we all are aware that time is limited. The men are less likely to bring his wife to stay at his parent’s place, he’d end up renting his own. Hence happier marriage, I guess.

And whose idea is it that those who stay overseas would have behavioural problems? Hey, at least I didn’t see any mat rempits in the streets of Dublin. There’s no 24-hour mamak restaurants so there’s no way of staying up til 3am watching football (which I don’t see anything wrong about, anyway). We’d usually end up staying home or in the library because we either have not much money to enjoy with, or there’s just nowhere else to go at midnight.

Friends? It’s up to the individuals really. If you’re the friendlier bubblier type, you’d end up with more friends no matter where you are. If you choose to be very sociable of course many people would befriend you. And vice versa. As for me, I would have ended up with less friends if I were to study in KL, because most of the time I’d be home with my parents and siblings. I became more sociable because I was stuck in Dublin for 3+ years, I needed to learn how to be a good friend (because my friends all were) as we only have each other. And it paid.

Really, I’m tired of this stereotype. This stupid stigma. There’s no way of telling which one is better, because in the end it’s up to the individual. Like the way you can never tell how long a patient with pancreatic cancer would live – 6 months? 2 years? Yes, despite all the studies done.

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