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Studying Abroad Tips: What Should You Do Before Coming to Malaysia?

April 15, 2024


study in Malaysia tips

Starting a journey to study overseas can be an exciting and transformative experience, particularly when the chosen destination is as lively and diverse as Malaysia. 

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Malaysia has become a popular spot for international students seeking quality education in a setting that celebrates diversity.

With its blend of cultures, languages, and customs, Malaysia provides students with a distinctive chance to become part of a lively and inclusive community. 

Its esteemed universities, modern amenities, and reasonable living expenses have solidified Malaysia's reputation as a preferred destination for students worldwide.

However, the transition to studying abroad in Malaysia necessitates thorough preparation and foresight, including understanding cultural differences, academic structures, and managing finances. 

By acquiring a good understanding and preparing thoroughly, you as an international student who will be studying in Malaysia, can maximize your time in Malaysia to the fullest. 

What you should know about Malaysia before studying abroad?

As an international student preparing to study in Malaysia, it's important to familiarize yourself with the country's geography, climate, and cultural diversity.

This understanding will enable you to make necessary preparations and gain a deeper insight into Malaysia. It will facilitate your readiness before arriving and commencing your studies in Malaysia.

To begin with, Malaysia has a wide variety of landscapes, including rainforests, beautiful beaches, suburban and bustling cities. This diversity in geography gives you a chance to discover and enjoy different natural settings.

In addition, the country has a tropical climate all year round, which means it is generally hot and humid. If you are from cooler regions, you need to be ready for the warm and humid weather in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the cultural diversity in Malaysia is attributed to the presences of various ethnicities such as Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous communities. Despite linguistics and religious differences, these groups coexist harmoniously, fostering mutual respect and tolerance. 

As a result, studying in Malaysia exposes you to a multitude of celebrations like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, and Deepavali, offering opportunities to partake in these festivities alongside university peers.

What should you do before studying in Malaysia?

Before embarking on your journey to study in Malaysia, there are several important steps you should take to ensure a smooth and successful experience, such as: 

1. Do research about your destination

Preparing for studying abroad in Malaysia involves conducting thorough research about your destination. With numerous reputable universities and colleges available, it's essential to find the right fit for your academic and personal goals.

You can explore the academic offerings, faculty expertise, research opportunities, and campus facilities of these institutions to ensure they align with your needs.

Additionally, you also need to consider factors like location, cost of living, and support services for international students to make an informed decision.

Moreover, familiarizing yourself with Malaysian customs and traditions is crucial for navigating your days in Malaysia with ease. Malaysia's multicultural society comprises Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous groups, each contributing different customs.

It's important to acquaint yourself with general Malaysian customs, such as eating with the right hand and removing shoes before entering a Malaysian house.

Additionally, understanding cultural norms related to greetings, gift-giving, and social interactions can help you establish positive relationships with locals and integrate into the community more seamlessly.

Another way to become familiar with Malaysian customs and traditions is by learning basic phrases in Bahasa Malaysia. This enables you to understand social etiquette and foster connections with the local community more effectively.

2. Student Visa and immigration preparation

study in Malaysia tips

Another essential step in preparing for studying abroad in Malaysia is to handle visa and immigration requirements. 

The first crucial aspect is understanding the visa requirements, as these regulations can differ based on your country of origin and the intended duration of your stay. 

As an international student, obtaining a student visa is mandatory to demonstrate acceptance into a recognized Malaysian institution.

Typically, the cost of a student visa in Malaysia falls between USD 600 and 800. If you intend to bring family members, you must apply for a Dependent Pass, which entails additional documentation and possibly separate fees.

Therefore, thorough research into Malaysia's visa requirements before applying is vital to ensure eligibility and prevent any application delays or complications.

For further information on Student Visa and studying in Malaysia, you may refer here

3. Manage your financial planning 

As you prepare for further studies in Malaysia, it's essential to manage your finances wisely. What steps should you take to plan your finances effectively?

A crucial aspect of studying abroad in Malaysia is estimating the cost of living to ensure you have enough funds to cover your expenses during your stay.

Factors to consider include tuition fees, accommodation, food, transportation, Internet plans, and other miscellaneous expenses. You need to research the cost of living in Malaysia, depending on which cities or regions you will be studying in. This helps you create a realistic budget that matches your financial resources.

To alleviate financial burdens, you need to explore scholarship opportunities and financial aid options provided by Malaysia's universities. Many institutions offer scholarships, financial aid, and grants for international students based on academic merit or specific criteria.

So, you need to research and prepare for the scholarships and financial aid in advance to improve your chances of securing financial assistance.

Furthermore, it's crucial to establish a budget and financial plan for your time in Malaysia to manage expenses effectively. Keep track of your spending and prioritize wisely. 

Look for areas where you can save money, such as purchasing second hand academic materials instead of new ones, to ensure you stay within your budget.

4. Arrange your accommodation

The next preparation step you must consider is arranging your accommodation in Malaysia. As an international student in Malaysia, you have the option to choose between on-campus or off-campus accommodation.

Universities in Malaysia offer on-campus housing options that are convenient and located close to campus facilities such as the library, computer labs, and food cafeterias. Additionally, on-campus accommodations often come with amenities like furnished rooms, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and access to communal spaces such as study lounges and recreational areas.

However, if you prefer a more flexible lifestyle, you can find suitable off-campus accommodations such as rented rooms or shared apartments. Various websites provide listings for rental properties across Malaysia, allowing you to search for accommodation based on your preferred location, price, and amenities.

Doing so can help you make an informed decision about where to live during your time in Malaysia. 

Additionally, you also need to consider factors such as safety, transportation accessibility, and proximity to amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and public transportation hubs when evaluating accommodation options.

5. Do dental check-ups 

Health and medical preparations for international students studying in Malaysia are essential aspects of ensuring a safe and enriching experience. Upon arrival, you are required to undergo a medical check-up at the university you have enrolled in as part of the visa application process.

This check-up typically involves a basic assessment of general health. Its purpose is to ensure that students are in good health and do not pose a risk to public health during their stay in Malaysia.

With that being said, it is advisable for you to arrange for any dental check-ups in your home country, as the cost of such procedures in Malaysia can be expensive for international students.

Regarding health insurance, higher institutions in Malaysia collaborate with trusted insurance providers, offering affordable insurance as part of the enrollment conditions. This comprehensive health insurance usually covers hospitalization and accidents.

Having health insurance provides international students with peace of mind, knowing that they have access to quality healthcare services without worrying about unreasonably high costs.

6. Language and communication skills 

Language and communication skills are crucial factors in your study abroad journey in Malaysia. As an international student, it's important to note that Malaysia's national language is Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language). 

However, English is also widely used, especially in formal settings like government affairs and tertiary education. For this reason, many universities in Malaysia, particularly private institutions, conduct their classes entirely in English. 

This creates an inclusive learning environment for both Malaysian and international students, allowing them to absorb knowledge from lecturers effectively.

So, what steps can you take to enhance your language skills during your studies in Malaysia?

Firstly, it's beneficial to learn basic phrases and greetings in both Bahasa Malaysia and English to facilitate communication with locals. Acquainting yourself with common Malaysian slang and expressions can deepen your connection with locals and immerse you further in the local culture.

Additionally, Malaysia's universities often provide language courses for international students to enhance their proficiency in both Bahasa Malaysia and English. 

These courses typically cover fundamental language skills such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It's normal to make mistakes while learning, so don't hesitate to practice and learn from them.

Furthermore, engaging with the local community and participating in cultural or extracurricular activities at your university can enrich your language learning experience in Malaysia. Interacting with peers, whether local or international, offers valuable opportunities for language practice and cultural exchange.

What are the challenges international students face when studying in Malaysia? 

Studying in Malaysia presents numerous challenges for international students, such as: 

1. Diverse linguistic landscape

Malaysia's linguistic diversity can indeed be overwhelming for international students. The country boasts a rich tapestry of languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese, and Tamil, spoken by its multicultural population.

Navigating this linguistic landscape can pose a significant challenge, especially for those unfamiliar with multiple languages. 

Consequently, students may find themselves confused when encountering languages other than English. However, as they interact with local students, they may gradually adapt to listening to different languages used by them.

Moreover, this linguistic diversity offers a unique opportunity for cultural immersion and language acquisition, enriching the study abroad experience for those willing to embrace the challenge.

2. Language barrier

Another challenge is when international students are having language barriers. Although English is indeed widely used in academic settings in Malaysia, the proficiency levels among students and faculty can vary significantly. 

International students, especially those whose first language is not English, may encounter difficulties in fully comprehending lectures, actively participating in discussions, and effectively completing assignments. 

These language challenges can hinder academic progress and social integration, leading to feelings of isolation and frustration. 

Additionally, misunderstandings arising from language differences may affect interpersonal relationships and collaborative work within multicultural environments. 

Therefore, it becomes essential for international students to seek language support resources, such as language classes, tutoring services, and language exchange programs, to improve their English proficiency and overcome these barriers effectively. 

Through dedicated efforts and perseverance, students can enhance their language skills, enhance their academic performance, and fully engage in the vibrant academic and social life of their host country.

3. Manage finance effectively 

study in Malaysia tips

Effective financial management is indeed another significant challenge faced by international students in Malaysia. This encompasses tuition fees, accommodation costs, daily living expenses, and social activities, demanding meticulous budgeting and strategic planning.

Furthermore, fluctuations in currency exchange rates can significantly impact students' purchasing power and overall financial stability.

Balancing these expenses while adhering to a limited budget can be daunting, especially considering the diverse range of costs associated with studying abroad.

Items such as academic materials, transportation expenses, and social activities require international students to allocate their funds carefully to ensure they can afford essential necessities while also enjoying their time in Malaysia.

4. Culture differences 

Cultural differences indeed add another layer of complexity to the experiences of international students in Malaysia. Other than linguistic and academic challenges, they might also face difficulties in navigating local norms, customs, and food preferences.

Adapting to a new cultural environment requires both openness and respect for diversity. 

As an international student in Malaysia, you may encounter unfamiliar social etiquettes, which can initially feel overwhelming. However, embracing cultural differences fosters personal growth and deepens intercultural understanding.

Building cross-cultural awareness is essential for successful integration. This involves learning about Malaysian traditions, values, and societal norms through cultural exchange programs, community engagements, and cultural events.

By actively engaging with local communities, international students gain insights into Malaysian culture and develop mutual respect and appreciation.

5. Tropical weather in Malaysia 

study in Malaysia tips

The tropical weather in Malaysia presents its own set of challenges for international students. The consistently high temperatures, humidity, and frequent rainfall throughout the year can make it difficult for students, particularly those accustomed to cooler climates, to acclimate.

In order to navigate the Malaysian climate comfortably, it becomes crucial for you to prioritize proper attire, hydration, and sun protection. 

Ensuring that your clothing is breathable and lightweight, and staying adequately hydrated throughout the day, are essential practices for staying comfortable and healthy in Malaysia's tropical climate.

Additionally, you may need to adjust your daily routines and activities to account for the weather conditions, such as planning outdoor activities during cooler times of the day. 

If you experience flu-like symptoms, sore throat, or fever, it is advisable to consult a doctor to ensure proper care. The university's clinic can provide basic checkups and proper medications.

In conclusion, embarking on a study abroad journey in Malaysia is a thrilling adventure filled with opportunities for personal growth, academic enrichment, and cultural immersion. However, you need to do thorough research about studying in Malaysia beforehand to ensure your stay will be fruitful and memorable.

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