Habiba Hamid is a Ugandan, a PhD student studying Computer science at the University of Malaya. PBB caught up with her to share some of her experiences with us as an International student studying in Malaysia.

Why did you choose Malaysia as your study destination?

I chose Malaysia for so many reasons. Some of the reasons stated below;

  1. Being a Muslim, I wanted an environment where I would practice my religion freely. Malaysia gives everyone an opportunity to worship liberally.
  2. As compared to other countries especially in the West, the cost of quality education and living is quite affordable in Malaysia.
  3. The weather is also great for those who don’t get along with extremely cold places.
What institution do you study?

I study at the University of Malaya (UM)

What exactly do you study here?

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Computer Science

Which part of Malaysia is your institution?

Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor.

Why did you choose the institution?

UM is the top ranked University in Malaysia and also in the entire world. The location is just perfect as you get to enjoy a good affordable life in an amazing diverse city (Kuala Lumpur). If you are a shopaholic, food lover and the party type, then Kuala Lumpur is the perfect destination for you.

The lecturers are well knowledgeable and so supportive, the research approaches they utilize, give students the opportunity to improve their familiarity with the domain of study that can be cherished by both the industry and academia.

What do you enjoy most about studying in Malaysia?
  • First and foremost, I enjoy the peaceful nature of the country and the people. I believe security is one of the most essential things in life. Malaysia is a country you will move freely and no one disturbs you as long as you have all the necessary documents with you.
  • Secondly is food. Oh my God! Food is everywhere and quite affordable.
  • Then thirdly is the transport system that makes it so easy to move around within and outside the city. The buses, trains are so clean, comfortable and affordable as well.
Are there any negatives or things you wish you had known before coming to study here?

So far, I have not encountered any negatives that have made me regret my decision of coming to study here. The reason I say so is because I did my Masters in Malaysia (6 years ago), at the International Islamic University Malaysia and now I am back for my PhD. Definitely if there were any negatives I encountered I don’t think I would be back again.

Do you think Malaysia is safe for foreign students?

I believe Malaysia is so safe for foreign students because the country is so diverse in culture.

What type of visas do students get and how often do they need to get it renewed?

The students are entitled to the student visa as well as the dependent visa which is often renewed after a year. The only advise I can give new students willing to study in Malaysia is to always submit their visas for renewal in time  (3 months before the expiry date) to avoid over stay issues which may lead to them being sent out of the country. Sometimes it is actually not even the student’s fault but as a student, once you submit your visa for renewal, endeavor to follow up until the entire process is completed.

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

Just like I mentioned earlier, you will be considered as an over stay individual and the law will have to deal with you. In most cases you will be asked to leave the country. This can be very frustrating and costly.

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

If foreign students exceed their stay in Malaysia this by law is a crime and punishable of course. However, depending on the causes of the illegal extension of the student’s stay, the student should contact the visa unit of his/her institution of study for advice as soon as possible. In some cases the student may be asked to apply for a special pass if the number of days exceeded are not many (less than a week) and if his/her reasons are genuine and with clear evidence. Otherwise, your case will be investigated as they hold you in custody and if found guilty, the law will deal with you accordingly. So it is always good to avoid such scenarios.

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

Always avoid noisy chaotic places; night clubs (Bukit Bintang) etc. Foreign students should the entire time move with their identification documents. For those who drive, make sure your license is up to date as well as you road insurance.

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How do you commute to school and how would you rate the transport network in Malaysia?

I take the public means to school and to be frank, I commend the government of Malaysia for the good effort they are putting in making mobility easy and affordable.

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

I think the cost of living is always cheaper in one’s home country as compared to a foreign country. Thus, I believe the cost of living in my country is cheaper as compared to Malaysia. For instance the rent here is so expensive (may be because I live in the capital city), healthcare too is so expensive as compared to my country. Education too for children is extremely expensive in this country. The only things I find cheap in Malaysia are: transportation, food and utilities.

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

I must say it is not easy at times but you have to go for what you can afford and live within your means. The options foreign students have are to start a small business i.e. buy things here and sell home or find home teaching opportunities and earn extra cash. Finding a job is not that easy in this country.

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

By nature Malaysians are so reserved.  So this explains the reason why the majority of the local students are not free to interact with foreign students initially. However, if they get to know one better, they are nice to make friends with.

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 give it 8.

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

Now that I am already here, I believe I made the right choice because so far my academic progress is good and I am getting all the support I need from supervisor as well as the new friends (both local and foreign) I made. I haven’t met any negatives yet so I pray it continues this way.

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

For those students who would wish to study in Malaysia, all I can say is that Malaysia is quite a good and peaceful country with all the resources you need to excel in your studies. The institution libraries are well equipped, the lecturers are so supportive as well as the fellow students.

 

 

 

 

 

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