No, it’s not really about Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or any reference to any form of communication on the Internet or movies for that matter.

I love to travel. Looking at the list of countries I have visited, I’m quite proud to say that I’ve been to Thailand, Indonesia, China, Australia, Cambodia, Turkey, Italy, and France. I am 25 and recently got married and moved from Malaysia to the United Kingdom. Of course, I don’t intend to end that list just yet!

I was enjoying a nice long bath not too long ago, and this triggered the thought of my friends back in Malaysia. Don’t get me wrong – we don’t share baths! But the nice warm feeling reminded me of the common poolside area we have in the condominium where I used to stay. That was where we neighbours usually met, gathered with friends, ate and bantered about life. That made me suddenly realize that I probably know more about the rest of the world than without realizing it!

Kuala Lumpur is considered somewhat like the metropolis city of Malaysia. I come from a smaller city, less exposed to international relations or businesses. But even in my younger days, sitting in a classroom meant interacting with classmates who are Chinese, Malay or Indian (Yes, that’s the truth of our society’s make-up. But we are all Malaysians). After completing high school, my parents insisted that I pursued a degree of my choice and so I moved to Kuala Lumpur, graduated and worked there.

Studying in a university with a tagline that read ‘A global classroom’, it gave me the opportunity to make friends from places as far and diverse as the United Kingdom, Iran, Botswana, Korea, Japan to name a few. I had local and international lecturers too. Even the art of blogging helped me in making friends from countries like America and Israel. I cannot say that I do not owe it to Facebook or the Internet because it is through emails and social network messages that I keep in touch with all of my friends till date. Now that, compared to the initial list of countries I have visited, is a whole lot longer!

Of course, I am not saying that this is a substitute for traveling in itself or calling someone a real ‘friend’ after randomly adding them on Facebook. But instead, what I’m really trying to point out is the awareness of how simple it is to be physically surrounded by and befriend people from so many different nationalities and cultures.

From my Spanish friends I got to learn a bit of salsa while the French neighbours taught me some useful (and vulgar) phrases to use if I’m ever in France again. What about you – have you suddenly realized that you are in the same boat, too?

Contributed by:
Azelea Bakrie who works at a London based translation agency “Translation Services 24”