In this interview, Abdullahi a Somalian International Student currently studying a master of public administration and Politics from the University Malaya shares his experience studying in Malaysia and why he thinks studying in Malaysia is a good idea.
Why did you choose Malaysia as your study destination? 
Malaysia is seen as a tourist destination. I read a lot about Malaysia in most of the dailies, Articles, and social media and I found it necessary to apply to Malaysia for my study. My family also encouraged me to go there which will be an eye-opener for me to learn a new culture, language, and system of education as compared to what is obtainable in my home country Somalia. I heard also that Food in Malaysia is relatively cheap and affordable compared to most European and American countries. Thus, Malaysia is a great nation amongst the Southeast Asian country which has shown its prowess economically, politically, socially, and culturally wise.
What exactly do you study there and why did you choose that course?
I am undergoing my study in the master’s of public administration and politics because I had a bachelor’s degree in the same field. This course is useful to me in terms of the political structure and development of any society.
Why did you choose this institution?
The University of Malaya is one of the oldest University in Malaysia which has also produced great men and women all the world. University Malaya is a reputable University in the world. The university is currently maintaining 59th position in the World. The University is known as a research-based institution. Research and innovation is a key focus of my institution.
What do you enjoy most about studying in Malaysia? 
Malaysia is a lovely place which everyone will tend to visit at all courses. There are several things that make me to still love to remain in Malaysia. Firstly: The security network in Malaysia is highly connected because the police are always alert to curb any forms of crimes. Secondly- Malaysia has a friendly and suitable environment which makes me comfortable. On a lighter note as compared to what we see in Europe and America how the weather may not conducive for most inhabitants. Thirdly- Malaysia is known as a Multi-racial society where you have the Malays, Malaysia-Chinese, Malaysia Indians and host of others. All these groups have their culture, Language and Value system.
Are there any negatives or things you wish you had known before going to study there? 
Hmmm! Not really. Most times you cannot know it all when you are outside a country. To get the full details you need to become part of the system. Malaysia to a large extent has its own style and political structure. As a student, the best way for me is to learn how to adapt to other peoples culture. As it is rightly said that travelling is part of education which one will experience at all course. However, most people complain that Malaysians are very reserved people which most foreigners find uncomfortable. The level of their social relations is very low as compared to what we see in other parts of the world and my home country.
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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 and what is the current state with regards to student visas? 
Malaysia is a nation with strict immigration policy as a result of most foreigners which flock into the countries. As a result of many illegal migrants which has been a lot of challenges facing the country. Any student who needs to come to Malaysia will need to apply for student Visa through Education Malaysia Global System (EMGS) with the help of his or her institution. The visa is renewed yearly to make one valid in the country. Any bearer of a student visa is not permitted to work in the country which is part of the immigration policy.
What happens to the student if their visa isn’t renewed?
Once one Visa is not renewed automatically the person becomes an illegal student. The only option is to clear overstay and exit the country except the immigration unit ask one to pay compound if one reason is justifiable.
What would happen if foreign students exceed their stay in Malaysia? 
To exceed your stay in Malaysia is a great offence which can lead to overstay. Having overstay in Malaysia is such an ugly experience because every day the person lives in uncertainty due to the fear of the unknown. In most cases, the person might be arrested and detained in police custody to be handed over to the immigration unit.
What kind of places do you think foreign students should avoid to guarantee their safety?
As a foreign student, you must avoid crowds and noisy areas. Malaysians do really like noise. they are quiet people who like peaceful environments.
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How do you commute to school and how would you rate the transport network in Malaysia? 
Malaysia has a good transport network which makes movement easy and very fast. For me, I go with the University Bus – Bus D which is close to my house in off-campus. Most times I commute to school with the LRT, Grab car or the free bus ( PJ 01 0r 02) as need be.
What is the cost of living in Malaysia compared to your home country and what are the things you consider cheap or expensive?
The cost of living is relatively cheap. the housing system is cheap depending on the area you live in. Food is very cheap especially AYAM ( CHICKEN)
How are you able to meet up with the cost of living in Malaysia? And what options are available for foreign students? 
In Malaysia, some students are government-sponsored which makes them settle their debts and daily expenses easily. To a large extent, most students are self-sponsored students which makes it difficult for them. Student working legally in the country is sometimes a big challenge which I believe the nation should consider in order to attract other prospective students as what is obtainable in other advanced countries where students work per week. Nevertheless, Most Malaysian institutions are very cheap while other little expensive especially the private institutions. The cost of living also differs, especially in areas and cities. Kuala Lumpur is much expensive as compared to Kedah, Perak, and Terengganu.
What are the local students like? In your opinion is it easy to make local friends?
Most of the local students are reserved which makes it difficult to make local friends due to the perception they hold of foreigners as propagated by the media.
Now that you are already here, what do you think about studying in Malaysia?
I think studying in Malaysia is a good experience. As experience seems to be the best teacher. A self-sponsored student has it more difficult as compared to sponsored students. Once a student is financially down it affect his or her total commitment to study. Allowing students to do some part-time jobs will be a good idea.
What advice(s) can you give to a prospective international student who desires to come to Malaysia for studies? 
Coming to Malaysia is a good idea. The best way is to seek scholarship or plead with family and friends to support you in your studies. To a large extent, you can take the challenge to become a self-sponsored student if you can engage in proofreading and editing student work. However, most schools employ some student agents which help in recruiting other students for some various institution.

We hope this interview answered most of your questions if not please ask whatever question in the comment section below and we would surely leave a suitable response or seek out an expert in this domain to respond to your questions.
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Interviewed by Vincent Ugbaja

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