Eating Pork


I’m not going to lie, out of four years living in the state, I ate pork four times, and none of them are intentional. American put pork, mostly in the form of bacon, in almost everything. This story happens during my freshmen (first) year in one of the student events. I was told it was a vegetable spring roll so I ate it. But when I tried to joke with Kak Vic, a Malaysian Chinese Ph.D. student about it, I learned that there’s ham in it. Never felt so disgusting ever in my life*.

By Amar Hasshim

*Majority of us Malay are Muslim so we do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Additionally, the pig is considered as something dirty in our culture thus the disgusting feeling. I apologize if anyone felt disturbed by it. Peace =)




One issue of living abroad and away from your family is communicating in different time zones. When it is morning in Malaysia, it will be night in Minneapolis and vice versa. So when my entire family chats on our family chat groups, I would be sleeping at that time and by the time I woke up, the conversation got so long that I didn’t bother to read them. And when I send something, most of them are already asleep.

By Amar Hasshim

First Job


My first job was not all that glamorous. I was a custodian a.k.a cleaner at UMN’s health center, Boynton. So almost every day I had to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning because my shift starts at 6 am.

The job was cool unless when it is winter. I rode my bike to work so at 5.45 am in winter, the road wasn’t yet plowed so riding a bike was impossible. So in winter, I had to wake up an hour earlier and left the house at 5 am to walk to my job site.

By Amar Hasshim

Midnight Hunger


One Malaysian thing that I really miss the most would be the Mamak or any 24 hours restaurant. Imagine this, you are studying or doing any shenanigans late at night and suddenly your stomach started to sing “Feed Me!” The kitchen and fridge are empty and unfortunately, the shops are all closed. So you just had to bare it until morning.

Seriously. There are many times I pray that we have a Mamak shop here at Minneapolis.

By Amar Hasshim

Bus and Public Transport


One thing that I love living in the state would be riding the bus and public transport. They are very efficient and punctual. Even if you miss a bus, there will usually another one around 5 to 10 minutes later. Far better from what I remember taking any public transportation back in Malaysia.

Additionally, I also stumbled into this awesome quote by Gustavo Petro, A Columbian economist, which says

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”

This is even better in a big city like NYC where you can literally survive without owning a car. I believe that Malaysia will soon achieve this kind of efficiency.


Amar Hasshim

Drink Sizes and Prices


Out of all the things that confused me living in the USA, the comparison between the size of soft drinks and their price wonders me the most. I mean a large size of Coke is $1, so does a medium one and a regular one. But then we have a small one that is more expensive than its big brothers and a very small one that can cost a fortune. It is like they try to encourage people to buy the big one. No wonder American people are “healthy”.

By Amar Hasshim



Since the allowance I received is not so much and the food sold got no variety and taste, the only option left is to cook. It might be a curse to some but for me, it is a blessing because I was “literally” born in the kitchen. One of my favorite hobbies nowadays is to try a new recipe or to create one altogether. One thing for sure, my housemate really hates me when I cook Japanese food and replace the sake and mirin with apple cider vinegar. It stinks! But in the end, they forgive me because the beef gyudon taste so good.

By Amar Hasshim



Since Minnesota is “blessed” with heavy snow, one of our fun weekend/winter break activities is to go snowboarding. Unfortunately, instead of sliding down, most of my time I’ll just fall and roll down. I blame my friend for not teaching me correctly. I mean his only instruction was just “now you stand…and slide” while he slided down the hill and left me alone to figure it all out.

By Amar Hasshim

Oh My English


This happens a lot to me, especially when I met someone older. I know that you are trying to be nice but sometimes, that type of compliment stemmed from the idea that only American and European can speak English fluently. English is my second language and I use it a lot up to a point that writing  and thinking in my mother tongue feel foreign to me.

By Amar Hasshim



It is the beginning of my fourth spring break today and I was kindly reminded by my first experience seeing snow for the first time. It took place at the end of 2012, my first year as an international student at UMN. I just finished my calculus class when the flakes started to fall. It blew my mind because I was born and grew up in Malaysia, the land of eternal summer. My Indian classmate and I ran around recording it with our phone like little kids. We don’t care what other people were thinking about us. But after a month, the fun was gone because there was so much of snow, it became a hindrance.

By Amar Hasshim, March 14th, 2016