Observations from a Student Studying Abroad

Rebecca shares seven things she has observed as a Malaysian while pursuing her degree in London.

On education

1. You are meant to ask questions during lectures
(not squirrel up to your professor after the lecture with an entire notebook of scribbled notes to ask if it’s really okay to state that inflation is increasing at an increasing rate instead of stating that inflation is accelerating at an increasing rate)


Having spent years in both the Malaysian and Singaporean education system, I noticed that classes tend to end early. And if they overrun, it would probably be because the lecturer read every word off each of the 60+ slides they prepared for a 45 minute session. Here, it’s because the students continuously ask questions. Granted not all questions are particularly insightful – but hey, it proves that the student was actually listening instead of incessantly refreshing Instagram for more selfies of hot girls.

by JoFan

On the climate

2. Too cold here

You probably spend 80% of your time complaining about the weather, oblivious that all you are doing is pissing your friends back at home. You whine about the rain, the snow, the lack of snow, anything about the climate you can possibly think of. You take pictures of your weather app, stating what temperature it is, as if it makes up visible proof that your fragile body is able to survive such ‘extreme’ temperatures. And when you go back home, you do the exact same thing – but only about the heat.

Oh look, now you can complain about the rain AND the snow at the same time!

On food

3. You probably eat more Asian food here than at home.

If you’re self-catered – which you are, unless you stay in halls – you find that you’ll very often be eating Asian food either:
a) Because you’re too lazy to cook anything Western other than pasta.
b) You automatically gravitate to the best/cheapest Asian food closest to your place – regardless of the fact that you probably have eaten Asian food every day for the past week.
And you complain about how much better-tasting food at home is.

by JoFan

On money

4. Every. Coin. Counts.

When a £2 coin is worth RM10, you don’t ignore falling pennies like you do Malaysian cents.

by JoFan

On speech

5. Every Malaysian speaking with a faux Brit accent in public annoys you…

… and you never notice you put it on yourself when talking to your local friends until a fellow Malaysian nudges you sharply in the ribs and follows up with an obligatory eye-roll. Cue apologetic, nervous smile.

by JoFan

On crime

6. Kidnapping

A kidnapping of a normal suburban girl gets news coverage in Prime Time TV. Newscasts interrupt shows for live-time updates on the condition of the girl in question. You look miserably at your Facebook and Twitter timeline, which is probably as much publicity as most missing children will ever get in Malaysia.

by JoFan

On activism

7. It’s everywhere

Trains and buses halt, people regularly go on strike. Life goes on.


by JoFan

And oh, no water cannons or tear gas.

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Rebecca Choong is a first year undergraduate in University College London studying Economics and Business with East European Studies. She sees herself as a relatively average, fun-loving student who has faith in a better Malaysia. She tweets @becca_csw.

Posted on 1 April 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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5 Responses to Observations from a Student Studying Abroad

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  5. Musa_Ng

    First year, eh? :)

    *Sigh* I'm jealous :)

    Have a good time and study hard, girl :)