We are happy to report that we have, after being in the country for two months plus a week, received our visas. They are good until the end of September, which is a very nice bonus. It seems that things have worked out, and they did so far more smoothly than was the case in Indonesia. For example, we will not have to return to the immigration office every 28 days to reapply for an extended stay. (Knock on wood.)
Actually, the process, while rather long, was not very time-consuming. It required only one of us (me, TP) going down the UKM, the university south of town where I am officially based for my research, a couple of times to fill out paperwork and drop off pictures. The only mildly sketchy part was that we had to leave our visas with the university for two weeks while they processed them. In Indonesia, you will recall, we were pretty much terrified of leaving our passports at the immigration office overnight, but we did it anyway. It speaks volumes about our trust of the Malaysian government’s efficiency and competence that we willing to carry around an "endorsed photocopy" of our passport for two weeks without complaining.
This is totally unrelated, but it is something that we both have been musing about lately. It’s fascinating how our popular culture consumption patterns changed based on the price of movie tickets. In the US, when we left Connecticut, it cost $8.50 to go see a movie, and forget about student discounts. Add in a box of popcorn for 3 bucks, and you are already at $20 for two people to go out to a movie for the evening. Now, it’s not like we’re poor or anything. We can afford to see movies whenever we want. But really, at $8.50 a pop, we certainly expect to see a good movie. We expect to get our money’s worth, and are normally rather pissed off when we spend all that cash on a movie that isn’t very good. Knowing this to be the case, we don’t go out to movies very often unless we are sure that we will like them. For $20, after all, we can go get two nice beers each at a fancy bar and be sure that we’ll have a nice time.
Here, an evening movie costs RM 11. That translates to about $2.90. That totally changes our outlook on movie viewing. For the equivalent of $8, we can get a nice bag of caramel corn, two sodas, and two tickets. For that price, we are willing to see just about anything. We can see movies that we aren’t sure about, we can see movies that some critics loved and some hated, and we can take a chance on a silly movie when we’re bored. Last night, for example, we watched Sahara. We would never have seen that in the theaters in the US. We were near the movie theater, though, and didn’t have plans. We think that Matthew McConaughey is funny, and we saw that the NY Times (which has fairly high standards) kinda liked it. So we took a chance, knowing that it wouldn’t be great, but that it would probably be OK. And you know, it wasn’t so bad. It was a fun enough movie to watch, nothing too special, good for some cheap laughs.
The difference is, we got about what we expected here, and would have been mad had we spent $20 in the US. Maybe this is a convoluted way of saying that when we return to the US in late August of this year, we will be ready to not be graduate students anymore.