Widely regarded as a country becoming a top educational hub in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia offers international students affordable tuition and living fees in a multicultural paradise. Branch campuses of many foreign universities are popping up in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond, providing globally recognised degrees in a country conveniently close for Asian students and an exciting long-haul voyage for others. When it comes to choosing where to study, Sean Chee at ELS Language Centres www.els.edu.my says, "International students are spoilt for choice when arriving in Malaysia."
Students may wish to choose their subject or location of study based on the potential cultural, work or out-of-classroom opportunities that Malaysia holds. The country is split in two by the South China Sea; Peninsular Malaysia nestles next to Thailand and is where Kuala Lumpur and other major cities lie; while Malaysian Borneo is located on the island of Borneo, which is also home to the countries of Indonesia and Brunei, and is more bustling with wildlife than people. Both parts contain beautiful landscapes in the form of hills and mountains, while Malaysian Borneo is more exotic still with rainforests and conservation areas for native orangutans and other animals.
Aside from this, Phoebe Lee at HELP University www.help.edu.my says the welcoming, embracing nature of the country and its people should tempt students to its shores. "Whether it is over the bond of food, sports, or other interests, Malaysians show that they can still come together in unity for a common purpose."
Get to know Malaysia
Experience the enticing blend of different cultures coming together at a festival, as Mike Collins at English Language Company www.elcmy.edu.my describes. "With the combination of indigenous Malays, Indian and Chinese people, as well as colonial influences, Malaysian festivals have taken on a truly unique flavour." Mike recommends participating in "Chinese New Year or the truly extraordinary Hindu festival of Thaipusam celebrating the victory of good over evil".
If studying in the city, students may want to venture out and see some of Malaysia's luscious nature. Phoebe suggests visiting Sekinchan, a town in Selangor, two hours from Kuala Lumpur. "What most people do not realise is that the vastness of their green paddy fields is a photographer's haven," she says.
Animal-loving students can help out at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, a home for abandoned elephants in Pahang state, notes Sean. "Volunteers can bathe the elephants in the nearby river and feed them too while learning more about these majestic animals."
"The best way to experience the local culture is through our food," explains Sean. "The wonderful thing about food is that it doesn't need a language or skill to be had, and international students can easily immerse themselves into it." And there are plenty of traditional dishes to tuck into!
According to both Sean and Phoebe, students should look no further than the traditional dish of nasi lemak. "[It] is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, topped with fried anchovies, peanuts, fresh cucumbers, a boiled egg and some spicy sambal sauce," highlights Phoebe. For a "completely unique and quintessentially" Malaysian meal, Mike notes that a dish of nasi kerabu should be sampled, which unusually consists of blue rice!