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Au Pair Culture Quests


Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese, Other
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Malaysia | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Malaysia. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

  • The idea of being an au pair is gaining popularity in Malaysia.
  • Applicants are very interested in gaining working and educational experience overseas, especially in the United States.
  • An au pair’s job potential is improved upon her return to Malaysia. Spending a year as an au pair will show that the young woman is responsible, has an international outlook, and possesses the ability to work well with people from other nationalities. These qualities are desirable to their potential employers, particularly if these young people aspire to work in the education sector, or for American or other multi-national corporations upon their return to Malaysia.
  • Applicants do not have difficulty affording the program fees.
  • Young people in Malaysia have active social lives and have the permission of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are not common. Malay youth are expected to act responsibly and be considerate to their families.
  • Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores.
  • Nudity is not acceptable – socially or legally – in public areas, and is not practiced in Malaysia, unless it is in the privacy of one’s own home.
  • The Malay are responsible, adaptable, versatile, friendly, and eager to meet people from different countries.
  • Parents in Malaysia use personal examples of good behavior, and verbal communication to guide and counsel their children.
  • Physical punishment is not accepted socially or legally as a method of discipline.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, being a Sunday school teacher, looking after their younger siblings, relatives or neighbors, working as private tutors during school vacation periods, or working in accredited childcare centres.
  • Most parents share childcare responsibilities in the family. The line of distinction between the conventional responsibilities of a husband and wife is slowly vanishing in Malaysia.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.
  • Drivers in Malaysia drive on the left side of the road, so will need practice in the U.S.
  • The minimum driving age is age 17. Most applicants obtain their license at age 17.
  • The driving license is not difficult or expensive to obtain.
  • It takes approximately three months to obtain a license in Malaysia.
  • In order to obtain the driver’s license in Malaysia applicants:
    • Attend a seminar on the rules of the road
    • Must pass a written test on theory
    • Take formal driving lessons from a government-recognized school for a minimum of 16 hours.
    • Must pass a road test
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Most families in Malaysia have more than one car, so it is common for the applicants to drive their family cars. Those who are working generally drive their own cars.
  • Most cars have automatic transmissions, but the road test vehicle has a manual transmission.
  • English is a compulsory subject in all primary and secondary schools in Malaysia.
  • Classes place equal emphasis on the reading, writing and speaking ability of the student. Malay students are well-read, fluent, and comfortable conversing in English. As a result of the rigorous training in English, it is the most widely used language in educational institutions and business settings, after the native Bahasa Malaysia language.
  • Many young women continue their studies at University. There are a total of 15 local universities, and there are a significant number of students who attend the private colleges/universities in Malaysia, as well as overseas universities (mainly the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada).
  • Those who do not attend university will start working almost immediately upon leaving school.
  • The academic year begins in January and ends in November.
  • The educational opportunities in the U.S. are very attractive to the au pair, especially for those who could not afford to obtain higher education locally or overseas. There is a very strong emphasis on continuing education amongst Asian families, and most people will study if given the opportunity to.
  • The most common inoculations are German Measles, Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B.
  • Young women are inoculated and tested for TB (Tuberculosis) at the age of 12.
  • Malaysia does not have a free health service. Residents have the choice of government-subsidized health services or private clinics.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis.
  • “Eating disorders” are not as prevalent as in the US, but they do occur.
  • Most young people in Malaysia eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is not common.
  • Rice tends to be a staple food in Malaysia. A typical Malay diet includes rice,vegetables, and chicken or fish.
  • Malay society is multi-cultural and multi-religious – Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Sikhism are the most common religions.
  • Most young people in Malaysia practice their religion regularly.
  • Most young people have a liberal attitude toward food, and are eager to try new cuisine. Traditionally, believers of the Islam faith do not eat pork or drink liquor. Some believers of Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism refrain from eating beef. However, it is generally acceptable practice for them to handle such meats should they need to cook these meats for others.
  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members may not be able to take a message in English from a potential Host Family. Mobile phone use is prevalent and it is likely that applicants will use their mobile number as a means for American families to contact them.

"The flexibility the program affords us is outstanding. With other child care options, I always felt I was accommodating their schedule instead of my own."

Jill, host parent
New Jersey

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