Written by: Alexander Kuek
Malaysia may be one of the smaller places on the map, but it is a country unlike most: a diverse, multicultural nation made up of citizens of various races and religions. This unique blend never fails to dazzle travelers from around the world, often making it one of the most visited countries on the map and rivalling many other big names on the planet for tourism.
According to data from the World Tourism Organization, Malaysia had 26 million international tourist arrivals last year, beating out India, South Korea, and even our neighbors Singapore. Mainly thanks to popular destinations like Batu Caves, Cameron Highlands, and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, it would be hard not to fall in love with the beauty of it all.
Well, some of us fell so much in love with Malaysia’s wonders that they’ve made the leap to consider studying or even living here. Quite a number of foreigners have left their place of birth and started a whole new journey in life here. This happens for various reasons, mainly consisting of workers seeking better opportunities, students pursuing tertiary education, or adventurous foreigners looking for something new.
Knowing their thoughts on Malaysian life would be interesting, we decided to interview a few foreign students about their experiences.
A student from Sri Lanka was the first to share her thoughts:
“I came for my studies, this foundation course cannot be found in my country, there are no good lecturers in my country and I heard Malaysian ones are better. I’ve been here for about five months and what I like about Malaysia is the fact that it has freedom, it’s safe compared to other countries and people here are really friendly.”
Next up was one from Indonesia:
“I came to study, I knew Malaysia had a lot of people who could speak English and it had good education. I’ve been here for a little less than a year. The food here is good, the people here are great and friendly. I speak English better than Bahasa Indonesia or Malay, so communication would be easy.”
Two African students shared their thoughts:
“I came to Malaysia because the education was affordable and there were scholarships. This is my fifth year here, I did both my courses here. What I like is about it is the different cultures that I never experienced before, I learned a bit of Chinese and like the spicy Malay and Indian food. I also got to learn about work ethics which are very good here, they’re about hard work and motivation.”
“I’ve been here for less than a week, I searched online and I heard this college was good from friends in my country. What I like is the people are friendly, it’s more developed than my country and the education system is good.”
Here’s what a new student from Belgium had to say:
“I’ve been here for 7 years, what I like is that people are really friendly. My dad came here for business. I like the cultural diversity here – everyone treats you like part of a family, and there’s unity, unlike many other countries. Besides, the food is nice. Especially the roti canai.”
While the responses collected mentioned the usual things we locals take pride in (food, culture and diversity), what they had in common was their praise for the sense of friendliness amongst local Malaysians. Indeed, few other countries can beat the warm welcome tourists and foreigners receive upon arrival in Maaysia. Interestingly enough, none of them brought up what they disliked about the country (something many of us often won’t hesitate to bring up). Even so, it was nice to hear them spread some positivity for a change, and offer a brief reminder of what makes Malaysia one of the continent’s hottest locations. Perhaps we Malaysians should learn from our foreign friends in this regard!