The perfect match

Published on 16 April 2020

When Sze San Ngu left the Malaysian city of Kuching for Scotland 15 years ago she could not have imagined how the move would transform her life.

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When Sze San Ngu left the Malaysian city of Kuching for Scotland 15 years ago she could not have imagined how the move would transform her life.

Sze San initially moved to Dundee to study for a Masters degree in Engineering with the intention of returning to Malaysia at the end of her year-long course. Fast forward to 2020, however, and Sze San is not only still living in Dundee but she is also married to a Scotsman and – fallowing a dramatic career change – is working as a dentist in the city. How did she come to find both love and her vocation in a Scottish city she had barely heard of?

“I knew almost nothing about Scotland before I came to Dundee and I never expected I would make my life here,” admitted Sze San. “I came over with one bag as luggage and I remember it was raining when I landed at Edinburgh Airport. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with the weather but I very quickly got used to it. I was so excited to see snow for the first time!

“I did my Masters degree in Engineering and started a PhD before I realised it wasn’t for me and started to think what I really wanted to do. By this point I had come to like Scotland and Dundee so much so it made sense to stay here. Thankfully I was accepted on to the Dentistry course at the University of Dundee.”

Upon completing her degree, Sze San was soon offered a job in the Dundee area and, with a strong network of friends now established locally, she once more chose to extend her stay in Scotland. It was perhaps this decision which would have the biggest impact on her life and those of others.

Sze San met her husband Calum on a night out in Dundee four years ago and they married last October. The ceremony took place in Spain, where Calum had previously worked as an English teacher for several years, with family and friends from both Malaysia and Scotland joining the happy couple for their big day.

As a senior student recruitment officer at the University, Calum spends his days persuading students from around the world to come to Dundee. And in his wife, he has proof of the University’s power to transform lives and enable students to unleash their potential.

Sze San is not the only member of her family to have fallen in love with, and in, Scotland. Her sister, Sze Ting also attended university in Scotland, married a Scot and settled in the country, now living in Glasgow. Sze San also visits family in Malaysia as often as possible.

Calum and Sze San have embraced each other’s cultures and, with the couple sharing cooking duties, enjoy both western and Chinese food at home. While Sze San has had 15 years to get used to Scottish accent, she did worry about communication difficulties when Calum met her family for the first time.

She continued, “Luckily my father studied in London and speaks very good English and the fact Calum taught English in another country means he is used to speaking more slowly and playing down his Scottish accent. That meant they could understand what each other was saying!

“As I said, I didn’t know very much about Scotland before I came here and I certainly didn’t know there was a big rivalry with England. I got into trouble for wearing an English football shirt out in town one time so I won’t make that mistake again!”

Since they met, Calum has encouraged Sze San to embrace another football rivalry and took her to watch his favourite side, Dundee United, play local adversaries Dundee FC in the city’s derby match. Unfortunately for them, Sze San did not prove to be a lucky mascot and their side lost the game 2-1.


Grant Hill

Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768

Story category Public interest