Okoli Chukwudi popularly known as Chuky1pilla hails from the southern part of Nigeria, from Anambra to be precise. When he is not studying, which is basically his life, he is busy reproducing humans on paper. His stunning art work has attracted lots of attention not only in Malaysia but on the global stage.
The idea of leaving home to get exposure away from his comfort zone has always been on his bucket of ‘to do’s and studying in Malaysia ticked all the boxes for him. He has been in Malaysia for a little over a year now and currently studying at Westminster International College.
Chuky1pilla shares his life as a foreign student in Malaysia and the change he would love to see in Malaysia with respect to foreign student opportunities.
LIFE IN MALAYSIA
How has it been for you as an African living and studying in Malaysia?
Well, as a African living in Malaysia, I can only speak from my experience. It’s been smooth thus far. The fact that I have other international students as mates has made it easy for me.
STUDYING IN MALAYSIA
What do you study here? Why did you choose that field?
I’m studying a business degree here. I’ve always had a thing for business and fascinated by the business world. I come from a business background where business is being practiced traditionally. So I am hoping to take it to a higher level with modern practices and bridge the gap between both worlds.
Why did you choose the school you studied in? What’s the student visa procedure like? And how long did it take you?
Well, the school offers a UK degree, and it’s cost effective compared to other schools giving the same offerings. They have compact modules that are vital to my goals.
Erm, the visa procedure was a bit stressful on my part because I had some issues that needed sorting out, but apart from that it was a smooth sailing. I had a great marketer who also assisted me a lot during the process. The time frame? A few months.
What do you think about the educational system in Malaysia?
So far so good, it’s been quality and a bit different with what I was used to, but I’m really enjoying it.
DEALING WITH CULTURE SHOCK
What are the major differences between Malaysia and your home country? And how did you deal with culture shock?
Uhmm, there are similarities as well as differences. First, the climate is similar, so thats a good one. The major difference to me is the people. I find that they are more conservative than Nigeria.
I adapted to the culture. As simple as that. We as humans have that ability to adapt.
What are some of the challenges you may face everyday as a black African man in Malaysia?
Well, for me, there are really no major challenges apart from stereotypes which I believe are present in every society, just in different levels. Maybe doing a little extra than others to gain trust. But overall, i have had some great people around me and its been smooth. I enjoy it.
Do you have any recommendations on places to hangout in the city?
Oh well, I am a bit of an introvert. I barely go out. LOL There are good places though. Sunway lagoon is a great place to hang out.
Do you know any fun facts about Malaysia you think most people are not aware of?
The word ‘LA’ usually doesn’t mean anything. Hahaha
What is the public transportation system like? Do you own a car?
The public transport system here is top quality. I have used the bus, trains, taxi and I must say, it can compete with the rest of the world. No I do not own a car. There is really no need to. I use public transportation and its almost stress free.
I see art is a big part of you. How did you become an artist?
Well, I love everything art. I have always loved art, from poetry, to fictional stories, and fine arts too. Although I didn’t become an artist until 3 years ago when I visited my artist friend and did a sketch while at his place. He encouraged me to give it a try and that was it. That’s how I became a self-taught artist. I figured everything my own way, and that’s the beauty of it.
What has been the biggest accomplishment in terms of your art?
Well, this one is a bit tricky. Biggest accomplishment in terms of sale is different from biggest accomplishments in terms of value to me, but overall, nothing really beats participating in Tun M: A Forever Legacy art exhibition I participated in as one of the Artists. I had the chance to meet the great Tun! (Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamed). It was special for me.
Congratulations, your work attracted lots of attention. What was it like painting and meeting the PM of Malaysia (Dr Mahathir) and what other things have you accomplished through your painting?
For one who feels really deep about his work, it was easy making a portrait of him. Usually, I try to read up or know much about my subject before painting. It helps me. Art is about transferring all these things to your work, not just the facial representation. It becomes easy when there’s meaning.
I have been able to send some of my arts overseas to Europe, The United States and around Asia.
If there is one thing you could change about Malaysia what would it be?
Erm, I’ll have to be a bit selfish with this one. I think, giving foreign students the opportunity to contribute and give back by allowing them to work while studying. It will engage them and take them off vices.
What’s your best advice you can give to anyone who plans to move to Malaysia for studies?
Well, It’s simple. You’re going to learn a lot.
- Just open your mind and
- Shun distractions.
See more of Chuky1pilla on instagram