Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life\u2019s sentiments. Malaysia is well-known for its diversity and the various cultures blended together. Because of that, we have sentences in Manglish or bahasa rojak, like, \u201cWei macha, you want to makan here or tapau?\u201d Foreigners residing in Malaysia pick up the local slang too. For most, it\u2019s a survival mechanism to reduce unfair treatment or being socially isolated. I interviewed a Sudanese woman to ask her why and how she learnt bahasa rojak.\u00a0 Here is her story from her perspective. \u201cMy accent is so Malaysian, people forget I am Sudanese.\u201d\u00a0 Mariam* (*not her real name) was born and raised in Malaysia. Her parents arrived from Sudan on business, and her mom settled here to ensure a better future for her children. Until she was 17, Mariam attended international schools which hosted students of a good mix of races. Although she did well academically, she stood out because she was the only black girl there. \u201cAs a child, no one wanted to be friends with me because I looked different. My hair was curly, my skin was very dark, and my voice sounded different,\u201d she explained.\u00a0 Feeling like an outcast in her school, Mariam was adamant to turn things around in college. When she graduated from school, she applied to a local university, University Malaya and got in.\u00a0 \u201cMy older brother who attended the same uni had told me that the uni I am attending is a Malay-majority uni, so I knew I was facing a real challenge,\u201d Mariam said. She was determined to change the way she spoke to make herself seem more local and approachable to the students around her.\u00a0 "I didn't want to be alone anymore. I would do whatever I can to fit in, even if that means speaking in an accent I\u2019m not comfortable with." When Mariam started mixing with the other uni students, she heard a lot more local slang expressions, like perasaan gila or kau pa hal. It was the first time she heard such phrases, but she picked them up quickly. Soon, she started peppering \u2018lah\u2019 and \u2018tau takpe\u2019 in her sentences. \u201cIt was weird to say \u2018lah\u2019 in the beginning. I wasn't used to it, you know? I felt like I was keeping a part of who I am hidden,\u201d she shared. People typically get surprised when they hear Mariam speak, remarking that she sounds more Malaysian than Sudanese.\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cOnce, I went to the 7\/11 near my student hostel to top up my prepaid card. My hair was untied and I wore a hoodie. There was a Malay lady at the counter and she gave me a \u2018look\u2019 at first -- like she had to be cautious around me,\u201d Mariam told me.\u00a0 Mariam acted like she didn\u2019t notice anything and casually asked, \u201cKak, nak top up prepaid RM 20.\u201d When the lady heard her speak Malay, the lady\u2019s body eased up. \u201cEh, boleh cakap malay, African ke Malaysian?\u201d The Malay lady asked with a cocked eyebrow. Mariam explained, \u201cSudanese. Boleh cakap sikit je.\u201d \u201cShe still looked a bit uncomfortable, but the small talk made her more relaxed around me,\u201d Mariam concludes.\u00a0 Mariam\u2019s skill with the language has made her friends accept her as an honorary Malaysian, which can lead to some awkward situations.\u00a0 \u201cSometimes my friends in university insult the other international students, especially the African ones, making fun of their accents and such. But when I point out I\u2019m one too, it gets awkward,\u201d she said. "Malaysians still stare at people with an afro." \u201cOne time, I went down to the park with my hair out in an afro. A small girl saw me and said to her mom, \u2018Mom, why is her hair so weird and funny?\u2019 All her mom did was laugh.\u201d To avoid the comments and stares she gets in public, she\u2019s taken to wearing her earphones and looking at the ground while walking down the street.\u00a0 \u201cI don\u2019t blame the children; it's the parents normalising it and laughing at it that is the real issue,\u201d She said.\u00a0 Aside from the casual racism, Mariam feels like she has to work 200% as hard compared to her local peers.\u00a0 \u201cIf I slack off, they wouldn\u2019t just blame me as an individual. They\u2019ll think: \u201cOh, she\u2019s lazy, they must all be like that.\u201d It\u2019s like they hold me personally responsible for my entire race.\u201d\u00a0 Mariam says if the circumstances were different, she would settle down here. "Despite all the issues, I love Malaysia. The food is delicious and there\u2019s so many options you will never get bored of it," she said. "It\u2019s also so convenient to travel around KL. Public transportation is everywhere while in Sudan you can only travel around with a car and if you are a girl, you aren\u2019t allowed to go out alone." Mariam quietly hopes Malaysia will update its attitude towards foreigners and educate their children to be more accepting of other cultures. For more stories like this, read: I\u2019ve Been a Foreigner in Malaysia for a Decade \u2014 Here\u2019s Why I\u2019m Leaving and I Dated Black Men And Was Shocked At Their Reality Residing In Malaysia. If you like what you read, follow us on Facebook & Instagram.