CultureLink Tea: Graduate student shines international spotlight on Malaysia.

Chee Jien Too, from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, will speak today, Wednesday, March 14, at CultureLink Tea. A graduate student studying human resources at St. Thomas, she will talk about Malaysia and her experiences living abroad in Minnesota.

The CultureLink Tea series features different countries in monthly presentations. Today’s presentation will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 202, Anderson Student Center. Tea and snacks will be provided.

Too came to Minnesota four years ago when she studied at Bemidji State University and completed her undergraduate degree in psychology. Wanting to “try something else out,” she decided to switch her career path from psychology to human resources. After applying to three different master’s programs in Minnesota, Too decided to come to St. Thomas based on positive feedback from her friends. “I think I made a good decision,” she said. “I love the teachers; they’re very helpful and nice – which represents the culture in Minnesota.”

Chee Jien Too

Chee Jien Too

American culture was an easy adjustment for Too, although she learned that there are vernacular differences such as pop and soda, and football and soccer. “My friends invited me to a football game,” she said, “and I thought that would be great. At the game, I was thinking that a football should be on the ground, not in the air.”

She finds education to be more flexible here; instead of having grades solely based on exams, students also are offered a chance to express themselves through papers and presentations.

Before starting her graduate program this semester, Too was able to spend five months back home, which was a welcomed break. She reconnected with family members and friends. Being the youngest of four children, it is difficult to be away from her loved ones – especially now that two new family members have been added. Her parents have become quite tech savvy: “Before I left my parents didn’t know how to use Skype or Facebook,” she laughs, “and now they are using both!”

Too also finds that she misses her culture’s food, because there are some items that are difficult to find in Minnesota. “Because of the multiculturalism, we eat all three different ethnic foods together … . Malaysia is truly Asia,” she said. Malaysia is composed of three large ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese and Indian, which has made it a gastronomical paradise.

Although being away from home is difficult, Too advises students to study abroad for the opportunity to learn about another culture. “The best way to adjust to a culture is to make a lot of friends,” she said. “Be ready to change every day. Be open-minded to everything.”

Her plans include looking for an internship for next year to gain more experience within human resources. Upon completing her master’s degree, Too hopes to find a job that allows her to train new employees. She hopes that her experience at St. Thomas will allow her to have the skills she needs to find a job back in Malaysia.

Too invites the St. Thomas community to attend her CultureLink Tea presentation. “Come to the presentation and ask me any questions about Malaysia,” she said. “Be ready to talk, because I love to talk!”