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From Malaysia to Australia: An Outback Adventure


From Malaysia to Australia: An Outback Adventure

14 March 2024

From Malaysia to Australia: An Outback Adventure

Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For Syed Muhammad Fathi, that single step started a few years ago when he began his undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney. Fast forward four years later, he is now graduating with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and looking forward to what the future has in store for him. 

Fathi’s journey fully embodies the quote “What is meant for you will never miss you, and what misses you was never meant for you.” While he initially planned to pursue his studies at Imperial College London, fate brought him to the land Down Under instead. But for him, the change is one of the best things that has happened to him. 

“Going abroad can be scary, especially when you are thrown into a new environment. But it is an essential part of self-growth and self-development if you let yourself be in the moment,” he said. 


Saying G’Day to new experiences

His first week in Sydney gave him flashbacks to his time in Kuala Lumpur when he was working at NU Sentral. The morning rush, the sea of people – it all reminded him of the morning rush on the LRT in Kuala Lumpur. 

Out of the places he visited in Australia, Melbourne remains his favourite city to visit. 

In Sydney, it feels like everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. But Melbourne feels a little chill – it still has the city vibes, but the pace feels a bit slower and less rushed. Plus, there are free tramlines in certain zones in Melbourne, which is always a perk!” 

He recalls his first time flying back to Malaysia after the lockdown and straight away buying Nasi Lemak Wanjo on his way back home. “One thing for sure about living in Aussie is how disappointed you are with the food here – they’re so bland compared to how we Malaysians like our food,” Fathi laughs. 

Being in Australia also requires him to get accustomed to the Australian accent and slang, which can be vastly different from British or Malaysian English. “For instance, in Malaysia, we call McDonald’s as McD. But in Australia, they call it Macca’s, which was confusing at first!” 

One of his favourite memories in Australia is riding the Steel Taipan at Dreamworld in Queensland, the first triple-launched roller coaster ride in the Southern Hemisphere. “It really was a thrilling ride!” he added. 


Discovering his true self in a foreign place

When he first arrived in Sydney, Fathi was an introvert. However, four years and a myriad of adventures later, he discovered his real identity. Throughout his journey, he learned to open up to more people, get connected to local and international friends and attend new events and activities. 

“In the Western culture, you will be put in a place where you may have to decide things on the spot,” Fathi said. “However, you need to recognise your boundaries and trust your gut.” 

Staying true to his identity as a Muslim was not easy, especially in a place where Halal food can be hard to find. However, by being upfront about his boundaries with his friends, Fathi realised that his non-Muslim friends are accepting of his beliefs, which allows him to still hang out with them without letting go of his faith. 


A proud Malaysian no matter where you go

During his time as the chairperson of the Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia, New South Wales (MASCA NSW), he saw how the perceptions of the students towards MASCA NSW have changed.  

“When I first took up the role, people were not as interested in MASCA NSW so there were still positions that were not filled. We worked to set up the strategic objectives and goals and now, for the first time in six years, all the roles are filled up due to high interest.” 

MASCA NSW aims not only to connect the Malaysian student community in Australia but also to help them connect and network with the huge diaspora community in the country. They have conducted events and partnerships with various groups, including the Malaysian-Singaporean expatriate community in Sydney. 

One of the notable projects of MASCA NSW is the Think Tank which is a case competition and networking initiative for all students in New South Wales. Supported by TalentCorp under the MyHeart Young Global Leader (YGL) Programme, the initiative provided an opportunity for students to build essential skills and network with industry leaders. The programme attracted more than 500 participants with the involvement of four stakeholders, namely Gamuda Malaysia, Australian Malaysia Business Council, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre of Research and Education Malaysia Australia. 

Fathi and his friends are also a part of the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia movement, where they all volunteered to help deliver postal votes back to Malaysia during the 2022 Malaysia General Election (GE15). 

It was a lot of work to plan it all well, including groundwork and collaboration with volunteers across the country. We had collection points in various cities for people to drop off their postal votes. In total, we collected and delivered over 1,000 postal votes back to Malaysia.” 

It was a team’s effort, and according to Fathi, everyone involved showcased their true Malaysian spirit“It showed me that no matter where you are, Malaysia is still home for all of us.” 

“I think this is exactly why the MyHeart portal can be useful – not only for potential job opportunities for Malaysians abroad but also to help make connections among Malaysians living in different cities across the world.” 


Editor’s note

As of February 2024, Fathi has graduated and returned to Malaysia. He is now building his career as a Clinical Design Engineer at Materialise Malaysia. We wish Fathi our very best and trust that his experience as a student abroad will allow him to thrive in the workplace. 

To connect with Fathi and other global Malaysians, join the MyHeart community today.