Benjamin Emeh is a Nigerian who moved to Malaysia for a Masters in Strategic & Defense Studies. He is currently studying at the University of Malaya. Vincent caught up with Benjamin for a talk on why he chose to move to Malaysia for studies and alot more on being an International student in Malaysia.

Why did you choose Malaysia as your study destination?

Before I started the application, I had to do my research to get the best University to enhance my career in life. Malaysia is fast developing in terms of their educational sector and the government of the country has taken measures to make it of international standard. Also, education in Malaysia is relatively cheap compared to what is obtainable in Europe which is the reason I came to do my Masters in Malaysia.

Why did you choose the University of Malaya?

Since my childhood  days, I’ve always gone for the best. University of Malaysia being one of the of the best in Malaysia was just inline with my values so i rolled with  it.

What do you enjoy most about studying in Malaysia?

Firstly Malaysia is a peaceful country. I also particularly like that the atmosphere at the UM Library is so serene giving me the ease to do my research. I have access to various journals in the library and also interact with friends who guide me in my research work. On a lighter note, the UM Library operates 24 hours with different sections that motivate me to study there for long hours.  The library staffs are quite cooperative in attending to people at any given time in accessing any given information.

Are there any negatives or things you wish you had known before coming to study here?

I really haven’t had a negative encounter or experience after living and studying here for over 1 year. However, I’ve heard lots of stories and unfortunate experiences from other people but I really have not experienced stuff like that neither do i ever wish to.

Do you think Malaysia is safe for foreign students?


So many people are concerned about immigration related issues. What type of visas do students get and how often do they need to get it renewed? 

Every student in Malaysia need the student pass which they need to renew every year. This is done by the visa unit of the University of Malaya. Students need to start the renewal process of their visa 3 months before its expiration. It’s also important to note that each renewal is subject to your academic progress report, health insurance document and a confirmation letter from the faculty are submitted to the immigration for the visa renewal process.

What happens to the student if their visa isn’t renewed?

Immigration issues are vital in Malaysia. Students who’s visas aren’t renewed may be arrested by the police are detained by the immigration until the detainee/former student has sufficient funds to buy a flight ticket to return to their home country. My advice for students who do not have a valid visa is to go back home before they fall prey. Most times the relatives of the detained are not aware of what is going on with their relative in Malaysia.

What would happen if foreign students exceed their stay in Malaysia?

The same above would apply. You will be arrested and detained and repatriated at your own cost meaning that you’ll stay in the detention center until you raise money for a flight ticket back home. Please note, it is boldly stated on the visas that students are not permitted to work in Malaysia.

See also: Caution!!! 10 things to lookout for before choosing Malaysia as your study destination

What kind of places do you think foreign students should avoid to guarantee their safety?

As a foreign student in Malaysia it is advisable to have your documents e.g your passport and or IKAD for identification due to the random police or Immigration checks. Nevertheless, foreign students must avoid noisy places or areas written ‘keep off’ especially at night hours. Places like Changkat, Lowyat plaza, Bangsar South, 1 Utama, and Bukit Bintang and so on are traps for the undocumented.

What is the cost of living in Malaysia compared to your home country and what are the things you consider cheap or expensive?

Food is relatively cheap in Malaysia like the Nasi goreng Ayam, Kukus, Telur and so on. However, housing is much more expensive in Malaysia than what is obtainable in Nigeria. For instance, rent in Malaysia is like RM1200 (Malaysia Ringgit) which is equivalent to 108, 000 Naira in Nigeria.

How are you able to meet up with the cost of living in Malaysia? And what options are available for foreign students?

What might work for one person might not work for the other person. Back home in my country I have been a civil servant who have worked for some firms and also ventured into businesses as a source of lively hood. Not many opportunities abound in Malaysia because foreign students hardly get part time job as compared to what is obtainable in most countries. Nevertheless, one can still explore other areas in buying most Malaysian good products like shoes, bags, shower gel, ovaltine beverages which can be exported back home for you to make income.

What are the local students like? In your opinion is it easy to make local friends?

It all depends the kind of friendship you are talking about. As for me, I can talk about making academic friends where we discuss about our studies, doing assignment together. On the areas of social relations or personal relations I cannot really say much about that because am not really into that aspect. To a large extent, I fancy the foreign students in UM   who share their experiences in Malaysia as in the good, bad and ugly as compared to the local students who don’t really face much stress as they get everything from their government.

On a scale of 1 – 10 how diverse is your institution?

Not diverse = {1   2   3    4 5 6 7   8 9   10} = extremely diverse.

I’ll give it a 5

Now that you are already here, what do you think about studying in Malaysia?

It has been a nice experience living in Malaysia so far, I am happy to be in Malaysia at least I can learn some languages from various foreign and local students like the Iranian, Germans,  Malay, Chinese and so on. It gives me a good opportunity to relate cordially with my colleagues/friends as a form of cultural diversity.

What advice can you give to a prospective international student who desires to come to Malaysia for studies?

To be candid with you, when it comes to tourism Malaysia is very good. They have a lot of touristic areas in various places like KL, Langkawi, Penang, Malacca, Port Dickson, Johor etc.  Malaysia has tried to modify their tourism sector for all foreigners to enjoy and feel at home.

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview and got lots of insightful information from Benjamin. If you are a student studying in Malaysia and would like to add some more information to this or share your experience, please feel free to do so in the comment section or get in touch with us here.

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