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Around the World at ASU: Malaysia

Attending school 10,000 miles away from home can be intimidating, but having your best friend by your side makes everything easier.

Around the World at ASU: Adlinur and Fasha from The State Press on Vimeo. Video by Madi Margolis.

 From Malaysia to ASU, two high school friends ventured to the United States to experience American college life, and in the process, created a friendship to last a lifetime.

Malaysian senior international students Adlinur Lam and Fasha Liyana Johari, both studying biological sciences, met for the first time during a summer camp in Malaysia when they were 15 years old.

In Malaysia, the academic school year begins in January and stays in session until November, with a break during the month of December for summer camp. The camp isn’t a typical American camp where fires are built and s’mores are eaten, but an academic camp where students are divided into courses they are interested in studying.

Lam and Johari weren’t fast friends in the beginning, but eventually became close.

“At first we weren’t close at all, she had her clique and I had mine,” Johari said. “I actually thought she hated me at first. She had been going to the camp for at least the past three years so she already knew everyone. I was new to the camp and was totally lost.”

The girls were enrolled in the same courses that summer and bonded over their shared academic interests, while experiencing the same pre-college excitement.

Both Lam and Johari wanted to attend college in the United States and applied to the same three schools:  University of IowaUA and ASU.

“We were both accepted into ASU for the same semester and it was almost fate that we both decided to come here,” Lam said. “From prepping for the SAT, to applying to colleges and the normal ups and downs of everyday life, we were always there for each other.”

During freshman year, Lam and Johari became roommates and continued the trend for the next three years.

The girls agree their freshman year was probably a little different from the average freshman’s life at ASU because they were coming from a completely different setting, stimulating a bit of a culture shock for both of them.

“Already knowing someone at ASU made the transition into college life so much easier and made being far away from home easier to grasp,” Johari said.

Johari grew up in Selangor, one of the 13 states of Malaysia, which is approximately forty-five minutes away from Lam, who grew up in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

“Selangor is a very secluded place,” Johari said. “ I didn’t even have Wi-Fi growing up, which is very different from my life here. Adi grew up in a big city so her transition to ASU might have been a little easier, but she helped me so much along the way.”

Upon completing their undergraduate degrees, both girls plan on going to school to get their masters in their designated fields.

Lam aspires to pursue a career in genetics and hopes to move to New York after graduation, while Johari hopes to have a career in marine biology and continue her education in Australia.

“There is a chance we might end up in the same place after graduation, but we haven’t made any concrete plans yet,” Johari said. “I’ve known her through all the big changes in my life, and it would make the next transition a lot easier if we did it together.”

Their families reside in Malaysia and the girls travel home every summer to visit them, but ASU has done a remarkable job creating a home away from home, they said.

Lam and Johari are both members of the Coalition of International Students organization at ASU which promotes communication between international and domestic students.

Aravind Sreenivas, Indian international student and president of CIS, witnessed relationships being built within the organization, including between Lam and Johari.

“The girls have always been close but I have seen their relationship grow at ASU,” he said. “It is nice to have a support system at school since we are far (all) away from home.”

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