Expat Interview with Elina: From Latvia to KL

Tell us something about you Čau! (Hi!) My name is Elina (surname – Stepina) and I am 27 years old lady. Proud to be Latvian. (In case) if you don’t where is Latvia then it is located in Northern Europe. Peaceful and cold country, with beautiful people and nature. I can describe myself in few words:#wanderlust #fitness #yoga #diving #digital #marketing #advertising #tourism #business #hotels #healthylife
Why did you decide to move and how did you choose KL? It all started almost 5 years ago, when I went to United Kingdom for my Erasmus + exchange studies, and already then I knew that I will do my master studies in Asia, however I didn’t know exactly where. I truly believe that we meet right people, at the right time and so happened that I met some Malaysian people in UK who influenced my decision to move to Malaysia and to do my master studies here. I graduated Taylor’s University, Master in Communications in 2017 and now happily working in the best media agency in Malaysia – Trapper Media Group in digital department. Already for 3,5 years I call Malaysia as my second home and I have never regretted that I moved to this amazing country. A lot of my friends say that I am already half Asian, but that you can feel and hear only when you meet me face to face. What did you do when you first arrived in KL? I was able to combine my master studies with traveling around Malaysia and exploring other beautiful spots in South East Asia. As I am very active in posting my beautiful traveling journeys on Instagram and Facebook, that attracted other Latvian and foreign friends to come and visit me here. This also motivated me to open my small traveling company, helping Latvians to explore and plan their holidays in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand –https://www.mypalmholiday.com/ ) My page is in Latvian language, however you can see there some pictures and the main is video here:
Is it easy to find a job in KL for professionals? Yes, I think it is quite easy to get a job for young professionals here. Kuala Lumpur is very vibrant and diverse city, which offers you many job possibilities and options. It is up to you how actively you seek to find out more information and how open you are to mix with their work culture, which is very different compared to work culture in Europe. The most popular Jobs/Vacancies sites are JobStreet (https://www.jobstreet.com.my/) and WOBB (https://my.wobb.co/). What are the top 3 things you love about the city Vibrant lifestyle, with accountable possibilities in any field
  • Mix of different cultures (Mainly Malay, Chinese, and Indian), religions, and languages. That brings to the next point, which is:
  • Diversity of food and drinks
Is there something that shocked you about the local lifestyle when you first moved Well.. Life in Latvia and Malaysia is completelydifferent, mostly because Malaysia is not a 4 season country therefore my lifestyle here is different. And you always need to bear in mind that traveling is not the same as living here, but if you are a person who can adapt well, then you will enjoy living here. However the biggest surprises for me are in work environment:  Annual leave is starting only from 8 days in a year. Luckily my company has more days, however it is still very low compared to Latvia where people have 4 weeks paid annual leaves.
  • Maternity leave is only 90 days in Malaysia, in Latvia – 1,5 year.
What is the best thing about being an expat in KL? Already since day 1 I realized that people speak a very good English here. For me as a foreigner I feel more safe understanding that I can communicate with everyone in the same language. Official language is Malay, however English is well spoken everywhere. When I am in Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam or any other Asian country (except Singapore), then I will always struggle with language issue in those countries. How did you make friends at first? Making friends is easy here. People are very friendly and they are not shy to communicate with expats. The most important thing is not to sit at home, but go and explore different places and events. I always try to mix with more locals, however lately I have been very passionate to keep in touch with other Latvians. When I first moved to Malaysia I didn’t know any Latvians here, but I am very happy that recently Consulate Republic of Latvia in Malaysia has been opened and our Latvian community is slowly growing bigger. Which is the best neighbourhood to live in? I like Mont Kiara or Bangsar area. However it is easy to drive around KL and there are many interesting things happening in every area of KL. Public transport is not very convenient here, however GRAB CAR services are very popular in Malaysia. So no matter where you live, you can get everywhere. I chose my home according to the place where is my work, so I don’t waste a lot of time to get to my work and back. But during weekends I will go to other areas for food or entertainment. One nice place only the locals know about? There are so many nice and beautiful places in Malaysia, but recently I went to Chiling Waterfalls (hiking trip) which is approximately 1 h drive from KL and you need to cross (by walking) the river for 12 times (both ways) to get to the beautiful waterfall. This is very, very wet and fun hike. Basically almost all your body will be wet. During my 3h hike I didn’t see any foreigner there, but it is very popular place among Malays.
How do you usually spend your weekends in KL? My hobby list is very wide. So I usually look for something new and exciting during weekends (for example, hiking, yoga, diving, wakeboarding, workshops, rock climbing, ice skating, traveling etc.) or relaxing (sunbathing, swimming, massage, beauty services, cinema etc.). My weekend will definitely include my WhatsApp video calls with my family and friends in Latvia. As we have 6h difference, then it is hard to communicate during weekdays. Once in a while I will go out with my friends to some nice speakeasy bars and explore nightlife in KL – The Iron Fairies KL, Club Kyo KL, HYDE at 53M and Marini’s on 57 are worth to visit. BUT my biggest nightmare during weekend is to sit at home, watch movies and eat. That’s definitely not my kinda days.
What do you miss about Malaysia when you are away? Weather, spicy food and coconuts. I will never miss durian, it is just crazy fruit. Would you recommend Malaysia as a destination for expats? Definitely. Everyone knows where are Thailand and Singapore, however many people missed out that Malaysia is exactly in the middle. I personally think Malaysia is one of the best countries where expats can live in South East Asia. And it is very different than Thailand or Singapore (which are more popular traveling destinations). If you have decided to come here, please contact me and I will help you to plan your trip and accommodations here in Malaysia. Paldies (Thank you)! You can follow Elina on IG here Check her travel company’s video below:

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