Greetings from Kuala Lumpur!

by Jobbatical January 14, 2016

This winter, team Jobbatical is going tropical. Here are our first impressions of Malaysia.

This January and February, over half of the Jobbatical team will be working from Kuala Lumpur. It started off as a daydream of our founder’s that we should spend the winter somewhere warmer than our Estonian HQ. Then we started to see huge interest in Southeast Asia in what we’re doing at Jobbatical, and it became clear: we needed to establish a hub in the region. Soon enough we were booking a big Airbnb and buying plane tickets to Kuala Lumpur.

Three things we’re enjoying: fruit, local food, and new feline friends.

To give you a glimpse of our first impressions of Malaysia, we conducted mini interviews with four of our team members — plus read to the end for a bonus double interview with the most adorable Jobbatical representative and our CEO.

Maria Magdaleena Lamp — Copywriting Queen

Nationality: Estonian. Favorite work spot: the basket-couch.

Favorite thing(s) about Malaysia so far?

I haven’t seen enough of the country yet to have a very detailed opinion, but it’s just so so different than Estonia in every way. I love the sunshine. I feel like my body has been missing the sun. And I love the mix of cultures, and of course the food.

How does being here help you with your work?

Obviously being on the creative side of Jobbatical I need to be inspired. It’ll show if I’m doing work that is not inspired, or if I’m stressed. So the ability to take a dip in the pool for my lunch break or being able to go and read in the hammock in the evening, that definitely gets the creative juices flowing.

Thoughts on the Malaysia startup scene?

I haven’t had any close contact with it yet since we’ve only been here a week, but from the listings I create, I see that there are some really cool opportunities. I think it’s really appealing to people from outside Malaysia, since it’s a tropical country, and the startup scene is really vibrant. Also the culture is a huge mix of different things from all around the world, which helps ideas flourish.

Isabel Hirama — Marketing Chief

Nationality: American. Favorite work spot: the hammock.

Favorite thing(s) about Malaysia so far?

I love interacting with the people here. I’ve felt really welcomed by every local person I’ve interacted with, and it’s such an interesting range of people. Just within the past few days I’ve had fascinating conversations with people originally from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Borneo, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait — who now all permanently live here in Kuala Lumpur.

I also really like the nature here — I love finding geckos in our house and seeing lush tropical greenery everywhere we go.

How does being here help you with your work?

Being here, I get to experience what people in the Jobbatical community will experience when they go on a jobbatical in Southeast Asia. I get to see firsthand the joys and challenges of adjusting, exploring, and figuring out a new work routine. I love that this is helping me to better empathize and communicate with our users.

Thoughts on the Malaysia startup scene?

It’s clearly really lively and growing, and I think a big advantage it has is that every team is diverse and multilingual from day one, because that’s what the entire culture here is like. That makes it easier for startups here to go global if they decide to expand outside the country and also makes them very well suited to welcome people from around the world into their teams.

Rauno Viskus — Full Stack Developer

Nationality: Estonian. Favorite work spot: the parlor.

Favorite thing(s) about Malaysia so far?

The amount of opportunities I see ahead of me. This isn’t the same as a vacation: I’m not spending every day just exploring the country, but I know that I have two months ahead of me, and that gives me the opportunity to really let Malaysia sort of soak in, to experience the Malaysian way of life more fully than I would with just a week’s holiday.

How does being here help you with your work?

For one thing, I get to actually meet and interact with some of my teammates in person for the first time. That’s a big plus already. You can really communicate on another level when you’re in the same place.

The other thing is probably that the change of environment gets my system in sort of another state — a more alert state. It lets me leave my everyday routine behind in Estonia. This mental state is perfect for me for a certain type of bursts of hacking.

Thoughts on the Malaysia startup scene?

For me, I have yet to experience it. I’ve heard that there’s a startup buzz here growing more and more. And actually there’s a reasonable amount of Estonians here!

Giulia — Head of BizDev

Nationality: Italian. Favorite work spot: the couch.

Favorite things about Malaysia so far?

Awesome food is available 24/7 — which is big news coming from Italy where things close at ten and the kitchens close at nine.

How does being here help you with your work?

I think the weather makes me more productive. Since it’s always warm and sunny here it gives me energy to get going. And of course being here has allowed us to meet with our Malaysian customers which is really interesting because it’s a very different point of view and work culture.

Thoughts on the Malaysia startup scene?

It’s really active, and there’s a lot going on. The bigger startups here are making startup culture a mainstream thing, and the best part is that everything is in English, which means that it’s really accessible to anyone, even if they aren’t from here or are just traveling through.

Bonus interview:

Our CEO and her three-year-old daughter

Click above for more, or come join us on a jobbatical of your own!

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