International students sharing their experiences

It is not an easy task for an international student to acclimatise himself or herself to a foreign culture, especially in a constantly evolving academic environment. To most, it can often be a little intimidating. Being a part of an international student body simply means one has to become a part of a lively and stimulating community. Hence, UTAR is dedicated to ensuring a holistic university campus experience that not only promotes a close interaction but also free exchange of knowledge and ideas between exchange students and staff of different nationalities and background.

Zhang (right) and Liu from Jiangsu Normal University, China

Zhang Kaiyan and Liu Muxue, two youthful China students who are taking up Chinese studies programme in UTAR, seem to be in very high spirits about their experiences.

“My experience here at UTAR was not only surprising but rewarding as well,” said Liu. “When I first got here, it was different from what I had expected. The UTAR Campus in Sungai Long is only comprised of two buildings and the buildings are relatively smaller compared to the universities in China. However, the University has a high ranking in Malaysia for its own reason. The lecturers and students here are also very nice.”

She added, “In China, the undergraduates will directly pursue their master’s study. However, in Malaysia, students are given the choice to decide whether to step into the working industry first or continue their master’s study. The students are also allowed to arrange their class schedule by themselves, which display a more humanitarian system.”

Zhang, on the other hand, said that her purpose of studying here was to understand more about the Malaysian culture and to experience the local customs. “The weather in the morning is hot, but when evening comes, it becomes cool.  We actually enjoy this kind of weather and the enchanting view of Malaysia. We took a lot of snap of the sky view, especially the sunset,” she said.

Besides the culture and weather, Zhang mentioned that she also enjoyed being a student at UTAR. “There is no language barrier as my lectures are conducted in Mandarin. The teaching contents are also relevant to my profession since it is mainly about Southeast Asian Chinese society. I will recommend my friends to come over here as I think it is a good chance for them to know more about a country other than their own. Studying in a foreign country may impose some challenges, however if you go with your friends, you should be able to cope with the challenges together,” she said, adding that studying here not only gave her a newfound sense of independence, but also enhanced her knowledge and understanding of Malaysia.

Chen from Guizhou Minzu University, China

Another China student Chen Si Ting said she received warm welcome from UTAR staff and students from the moment she landed here. “They are very friendly and helpful. They brought us for a tour in Kuala Lumpur and introduced us to the public transportation, Malaysian food and places of attraction,” said Chen.

She added, “The lecturers here have given us a platform to use our creativity in classes through projects and assignments. Aside from that, we are also given the chance to apply the knowledge learnt in lectures to real-life situations. The classes are mainly conducted in English. This allows us to improve our English language proficiency.”

She also advised the undergraduates, “You need to know what you want in life and plan ahead to achieve the dream. Continuously develop yourself and practice lifelong learning. Do not follow others but follow your intuition because the path you create is for yourself, not others. Once you have made up your mind to do something, persevere and do not give up."

Panisara from King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok, Thailand

Panisara Sangsa-ard, an international student from Bangkok, who came with her three friends to study Chemical Engineering programme said UTAR was a good place to study.

“My experience at UTAR is great,” Panisara said. She added, “I came here because I wanted to learn new things, improve my English and of course make some new friends. The environment was so welcoming. Students and lecturers here are always willing to help and guide you.” Sharing her future plan, she said, “I wish to pursue my master’s once I have completed my bachelor’s degree.”

Harshil from VIT University, India

Harshil Thakkar, from India, first heard about UTAR from his university. “I was told that I am going to Sungai Long Campus. So, I did some online searching. At first, I found that it was rather unusual because I have never encountered a university campus with just two buildings. However, upon entering the buildings, I was astonished. The Campus was equipped with everything. The offices, lecture halls and classes fit just fine,” he said.

Talking about his field of study—Mechanical Engineering, he said, “People always assume that you do not need to learn computer programing if you are a mechanical engineer. However, I believe in this era of automation, if you cannot communicate with the computers there is no point in studying engineering. I knew I was good at coding but I still didn’t understand how to relate my coding skills with machines.”

After coming to UTAR and working with Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science’s Department of Mechatronics and BioMedical Engineering lecturer Danny Ng Wee Kiat, Harshil managed to understand the relation between computer and microcontroller that operates robot and machinery. “Earlier I struggled a lot with electronic terms, but now I have a clearer picture. Mr Danny Ng explains things elaborately and after a couple of sessions with him, I feel like I can do anything with electronics,” he said. 


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