English | Malay
I am Malay and English. My mum is from Johor Bahru, Malaysia and came to London at the age of 10 in 1975. My dad is from London, England, where I’m currently studying. They were working together in a supermarket; that’s how they met. My dad would always joke that he would use his staff discount to buy a big bag of rice for my Malay grandma, which definitely helped!
I was born in London, where I stayed until I was 4; due to some family issues, we then moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I grew up for the next 10 years. I remember the first time someone asked where I was from; I wasn’t really sure whether they were asking about my nationality or ethnicity. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed growing up in Malaysia for anything; I was blessed to have the most amazing friends, who always made me feel a sense of belonging and welcome. Sure, I experienced some casual racism, but they were few and far in between. When I look back at it, I realise that it made me connect with my Malay side that much more. I got to experience the hawker stalls, the different multicultural celebrations every year and learning to speak in Bahasa fluently (although it has gotten a bit rusty recently).
Moving back to London when I was 14 was initially a massive culture shock; even though I had visited typically once a year during the holidays, living here was a whole different story. The way of life and sense of humour is completely different; it was a lot more intense then the relaxed vibe I had in Malaysia. Again, I was blessed to have an amazing group of friends who made me feel welcome. In London, there was a lot more mixed-race people, or 2nd generation immigrants, which made everything easier.
I don’t really care where someone is from with regards to dating or making friends with them, but I have friends who do. Having said that, I do tend to wonder if someone is mixed-race ‘like me’ if I see them on the street. At the end of the day, it’s all about your own preference; you’re the one that’s going to be living your own life, not them.
The feeling of having one foot in each culture is something I’m sure all mixed-race people can relate to. The feeling of having something in common with both, but not fully belonging in either. As a result, it’s quite easy to feel alienated. Still, I would not change anything if I were to be born again. I think of it as being more connected to the world I live in. I think most people in the future will be some sort of mix, especially with today’s tech breaking down cultural barriers.