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1.SPM 2017 Exam Results Announced on 15Mar18
...Friday, 16th March 2018
2.STPM 2017 results announced on 05Mar18
...Wednesday, 7th March 2018
3.Higher Education in POLAND
...Sunday, 29th November 2009
4.Australia Self Drive Holidays - Road trippin’ Down Under
...Monday, 26th October 2009
5.Explore Australia’s high country
...Monday, 26th October 2009
6.Education in France
...Sunday, 16th December 2007
7.Recognition for Polish Medical degrees
...Monday, 2nd April 2007
8.Recognised CZECH Medical Universities
...Monday, 2nd April 2007
...Thursday, 28th September 2006
10.Ten tips for studying abroad
...Monday, 24th July 2006
SPM 2017 Exam Results Announced on 15Mar18
The 2017 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidates scored a National Grade Point Average (NGPA) of 4.90, outperforming the previous year.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said the results were better than 2016, which was 5.05.

"A smaller NGPA indicates that candidates did better in the examinations," he said when announcing the SPM 2017 analysis at the Education Ministry today.

He said the number of candidates who registered for the 2017 SPM examinations had increased from 434,535 candidates in 2016 to 443,883 candidates.

The results analysis showed that 85.2% of the candidates qualify for the SPM certificate. Candidates must pass Bahasa Malaysia and History to qualify for the certificate since 2013.

"The achievements between urban and rural areas candidates also recorded some improvement with the rural students recording an increase of 0.14 in National Cumulative Grade (GPN), from 5.36 in 2016 to 5.22, while urban candidates also recorded 0.14 increases in their GPN (4.89 in 2016 to 4.75).

"In addition, 62.5% of the 994 candidates with special needs (CBK) are eligible to be awarded the SPM certificate.

"Overall, the 2017 SPM candidates showed the most improvement in Bahasa Malaysia with its Subject Average Grade (GPMP) of 0.46 while Moral Studies had the biggest decrease at 0.11," he added.

He said 48 of 73 SPM subjects had recorded improvements with other core subjects such as English Language, Islamic Studies and Mathematics also showing improvement.

However, one core subject Science recorded a decrease.

Amin also pointed out that 66% of the 2017 SPM candidates have mastered the High-Level Thinking Skills (KBAT) assessment.

He also announced that 54.9% of the SPM candidates successfully obtained the GCE O-Level certificate in English subject.

"In fact, 56.2% of the 75,467 candidates that sat for the Principles of Accounting subject are eligible to receive the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Level 2 Book Keeping and Account certificate," he said.
STPM 2017 results announced on 05Mar18
The national Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) for the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2017 examinations rose to 2.76 from 2.71 in 2016.

Malaysian Examinations Council chairman Prof Datuk Seri Dr Moha­med Mustafa Ishak said there was also a rise in the number of candidates passing all subjects.

“Overall, the national CGPA continues to rise since the modular system was introduced in 2013,” he said yesterday.

“Not only did the percentage of those passing all four or five subjects record an increase, the number of candidates scoring 3.50 and above also went up from 6,137 (14.2%) in 2016 to 6,408 (14.89%) in 2017,”

“The same goes for those scoring 2.75 and above, and 2.50 and above.”

Prof Mohamed Mustafa however said there was a “slight drop” in the percentage of candidates scoring a perfect 4.0.

“There is a drop from 1.31%, or 565 candidates, for STPM 2016 to 1.13%, or 485 candidates, last year,” he said.

Prof Mohamed Mustafa, who is also Universiti Utara Malaysia vice-chancellor, said the gap between the CGPAs of urban and rural candidates has narrowed.

The difference between the two groups is 0.06 points, from 0.09 in 2016 to 0.03 last year.

“Urban candidates obtained a CGPA of 2.78 while rural candidates obtained 2.75,” he said.

He added that 25,923 candidates or 60.23% were from urban areas while 17,119 candidates or 39.77% were from rural areas.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid congratulated the STPM 2017 top scorers and schools.

“STPM is the best track for students wanting to pursue their tertiary education,” he said.

Mahdzir also said they had worked hard to improve the facilities for Form Six students in colleges and schools.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also congratulated the top students in a Twitter post.

A total of 43,042 candidates sat for the STPM last year.
Higher Education in POLAND
27 Nov 2009

Malaysian medical students adapt to life in Poland with aplomb, writes DAVID BOWDEN

WHEN Malaysian students Wan Atiqah Wan Abdul Rashid, Muhammad Saifullah Shaarani, Mohd Hamdan Mohd Ibrahim, Mohd Khairul Hanan Mohd Wajiah, Hadi Naqiuddin Subhi and Nursofia Diana Azmi received their tertiary studies appointment notices, it was an atlas that they first went to as a reference.

The students, along with some 60 other Malaysians, were being sent to a specific overseas destination to study medicine. The excitement mounted every day as they awaited their appointment notice but they were surprised when they saw that the university was in Warsaw.

Most scratched their heads and quickly looked at a map to find out just where this remote place was that they had heard of but knew little about.

They quickly discovered that Warsaw is the capital of Poland and the university they were to enter soon is the Medical University of Warsaw (MUW), the largest medical school in the country.

The students quickly made Google searches for information about the place that was going to be their home for the next six years.

The annual cultural show is an eagerly awaited event.

The good news for the Malaysian students is that the faculty has an English Division where the lessons are conducted in English. Medical studies in English are available to those who aren’t Polish citizens.

Each year, approximately 120 students are enrolled on the English programme with undergraduates coming from some 26 countries but mainly from Europe, the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and now Malaysia. Successful students are admitted on the results of their high school grades, especially those in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and English.

There are now more than 100 Malaysian students studying Medicine in three Polish universities with the Malaysian programme having been in operation for three years. The course started as an initiative of the Polish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. All students receive government scholarships although fee-paying ones can apply to be admitted to the course.

The Malaysian students welcome the opportunity to have immediate contact with patients which is something that isn’t possible for undergraduate doctors locally. Most feel they are receiving a more rounded education as a result of this immediate patient contact.

MUW has 16 affiliated hospitals where students are trained in almost all fields of medicine. There are some 130,000 inpatients in these hospitals every year and the figure doubles when outpatients are also included.

Dean of Medicine Professor Jerzy Polanski claims that three times more students than can be placed apply for positions at MUW.

“Our degrees, which are recognised the world over, offer better value than in most other countries as they cost between Euro 11,000 (RM55,663) and Euro 14,000 per annum.

“While we still need a few additional facilities to make us truly world-class, the university and its teaching hospitals provide an excellent learning environment. We also train our overseas students in Polish as they have to communicate with patients while on the wards during their practical classes,” says Polanski.

Faculty of Medicine (English Division) deputy dean Professor Kazimierz Szopinski speaks emotively of his Malaysian students.

“I would gladly accept a whole intake from Malaysia as the students have been absolutely outstanding and highly motivated,” he says in an interview in Warsaw.

“They have fitted well into university life and have even injected new life and colour into the community. The employees and fellow students eagerly anticipate their annual cultural show which they put on for our benefit.”

WUM has more than 10,000 students and a staff of almost 1,600 academic teachers including 150 professors and 600 lecturers. The university offers nine principal subjects and in four specialties as well as postgraduate education (specialty training and refresher courses).

There are two main medical degrees offered with a four-year plan available to students who already have a relevant primary degree. There's an easy way to plan for retirement. Find out how.

For many years, MUW has collaborated in research with centres all over the world including France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US. There are 16 formal agreements on scientific cooperation which involve exchange of research workers, joint research projects and publications.

Most Malaysian students interviewed at MUW like the weather despite it being different to what they are used to at home. Despite it getting quite cold with snowfalls in winter, most have learned to adapt especially as central heating is installed in all buildings.

They are all impressed with the friendliness of Polish people and they can even purchase halal food in some markets as well as in a few restaurants. Nursofia Diana, who grew up in Gombak, says many strangers greet them in the streets and make them feel welcome.

Wan Atiqah commented that there is a shop next to a mosque near the university that sells halal food and her Polish friends respect her religion and avoid serving food and drinks she can’t consume.

Mohd Khairul Hanan, from Kota Jembal in Kelantan, the president of the Malaysian Students’ Society of Poland, likes Warsaw’s public transport system because it is punctual and cheap. Students use it to travel to and from the university and around the city.

Hadi Naqiuddin from KL is one of the Malaysian students who is studying Medicine as a second degree to supplement his first bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine attained from Malaysia’s Management and Science University. He especially likes the relaxed learning environment at MUW.

It won’t come as any surprise to Malaysians to know that the students miss home with family, friends and food high among the things they miss most. Nursofia Diana misses her family and friends most of all and intends to catch up with them when she returns to KL. Mohd Hamdan misses nasi lemak, mee goreng and bihun sup but knows that when he returns to Malaysia as a fully-trained doctor, he will be able to enjoy these dishes and many more as often as he likes.

For more information on studies in English in Poland, visit the websites of the following universities:-

+ Medical University of Warsaw (

+ Medicawl University of Lodz (

+ Jagiellonian University (

or the Embassy of Poland (

MSL has student fares to POLAND
Australia Self Drive Holidays - Road trippin’ Down Under
26 Oct 2009

Self-drive holidays are growing in popularity in Australia, especially among Asians, and it’s easy to see why — the freedom to go wherever you like without the restrictions of a group tour. You design your own itinerary, bring your friends or family along, turn the ignition and start your adventure.

Ahh, the endless open road! A new adventure awaiting you around the next bend. A journey of discovery and self-discovery. The road trip has been part of our pop culture ever since the Model T Ford became affordable to the masses back in the 1920s. Over the decades, Hollywood has featured it in countless films, mirroring the enthusiasm Americans have for this highly flexible and individualistic vacation.

But it seems the Australians have perfected what the Americans created. Today, our neighbours Down Under hit the road in record numbers to explore the amazing diversity of experiences their vast land has to offer. And more and more Asians are joining them in the fun.

Canberra is beautifully laid-out. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN

Australia is built for road trips. The combination of excellent roads, small towns, awesome scenery and nice B&Bs makes road tripping probably the most rewarding and fun way to explore this vast country. Why? Because anyone who’s had the pleasure of going on their own self-drive adventure knows that the journey is half the fun.

It’s easy to do, too. Do a bit of homework first. Where do you feel like going? Who do you want to join in the adventure? How much time do you have? How many hours do you feel like driving each day? What can you see and do along the way? And where would you like to end up each evening. Then simply book your flight and your rental car. Then go!

One of the very best road trips in Australia is the Grand Pacific Drive/Canberra loop out of Sydney. The easy drive takes you along the uncongested and well marked coastal road that runs south out of Sydney and along the coast. After a couple of days exploring the New South Wales coast, pop inland to Canberra, the nation’s capital, and then back up to Sydney.

It’s the sort of easy yet adventurous trip that allows you to see and do lots of things without spending too much time on the road. If you have at least four to five days to play with, this is the trip to do.

Fly into Sydney and spend a couple of days in this magnificent city exploring the Weekend Market (10am-5pm) in the old part of the city called The Rocks. Or challenge yourself by joining a tour to climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. And then settle down in a café in front of the Opera House and perhaps enjoy a cocktail watching the sun set behind the bridge you just conquered!

Driving in the city is easy. All modern rentals come with a very easy-to-programme GPS navigational unit. Just type in where you want to go and — presto! — the nice lady in the GPS will guide you there.

Down the coast

Head south and out of Sydney’s seemingly neverending suburbs and join the scenic Grand Pacific Drive ( The interstate road that winds along the beautiful NSW coast south of Sydney is the Princes Highway, which goes all the way to Melbourne in Victoria state. But the most scenic part has been dubbed and duly signposted as the Grand Pacific Drive. Simply by following the signs, you’ll be taken to all that is worth seeing along the stunning coastline. And there is lots to see.

Just an hour into your journey is the animal encounter at Symbio Wildlife Park. You won’t get any closer to Australia’s native wildlife. Cuddle koalas, see wombats up close and hand feed the kangaroos as some of Australia’s beautiful wildlife joins you on your tour in natural bushland.

Small towns along the way have some great little shops worth exploring. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN

Another half hour along the often precipitous drops into the ocean to your left, lies Wollongong, the third largest city in NSW. Strikingly tucked between the mountains and the sea, Wollongong is home to arguably the prettiest harbour in the whole state. Park the car and join locals for a stroll along the splendid harbour. Buy a take-away lunch of fresh fish and chips and enjoy a picnic in the park at the base of the ivory white lighthouse with the deep blue sea and seagulls as the backdrop.

As you continue your journey south, you enter the gently undulating cattle and winery country of Shoalhaven. The jewel in the crown of the entire NSW coast is the remarkable Jervis Bay, home to migrating whales, resident dolphins, a huge national park run by the local aborigines, as well as the Hyams Beach, reputed to have the whitest sand in the world.

Stay the night in any of several boutique B&Bs around the bay. Start the next day on a three-hour whale and dolphin cruise. Dolphin Watch Cruises ( are the biggest operators here and have an impressive record of being able to show visitors whales or dolphins, or both, on 95% of their outings.

On to charming Canberra

After another leisurely day of cruising along the coast, leave the Grand Pacific Drive at Batmans Bay and head inland and upland along the Kings Highway to Canberra. Being at a slightly higher altitude and inland from the coast, the weather is cool and fresh for much of the year except for mid-summer.

Canberra, the planned capital of Australia, has, in the past, lived with the reputation of perhaps being a bit quiet, boring even. It’s still quiet but certainly far from boring! With huge shopping centres, a vibrant cultural and party scene, as well as universities and the world’s diplomatic corps, Canberra has much of the vibrancy of Sydney or Melbourne, but without the traffic, pollution, overdevelopment and frenetic pace of its bigger cousins.

Climb the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN

Start the next morning with a hot air balloon tour and see Canberra city from above ( Not cheap at about RM800 per person, but the way to rationalise it is that it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Visit the amazing museums or tour the Parliament Building. For lunch, adjourn to the nearby Pialligo winery for some wine tastings and a bite to eat.

The afternoon can be spent shopping, strolling around Lake Burleigh Griffin, the centre-piece of the city, or, if you’re game, go to the National Zoo & Aquarium where you can actually feed wild tigers and pet dingos and snakes!

If you’re hankering for some Asian food tonight, try the beef rendang at Abell’s Kopi Tiam in the suburb of Manuka. Sedap!

From Canberra, you can either head back, via the Federal Highway, to Sydney just 3½ hours north-east. Or, better still, continue your adventure into the gorgeous Snowy Mountains, just 2½ hours to the west (see: Explore Australia’s high country).

So pack your bags and get ready to experience the drive of your life. With a good mix of coastal scenery, urban landscapes, awe-inspiring mountains and quaint towns, an Australian road trip is a kind of promise. The promise of an extraordinary adventure.

Road trip checklist

Plan itinerary and driving route.

Check the weather and season.

Get visa online and check passport validity.

Book your flight.

Book your rental car and arrange for pick-up.

Book accommodation.

Buy travel insurance
This site is very useful in finding any self-drive related information plus downloadable itineraries and brochures:

Go well prepared on any holiday and you’re bound to get more out of it. Here’s a good place to self-educate before you self-drive:
For the best deals to Australia from Malaysia direct, check with MAS and AirAsia X: OR

Check with MSL Travel for fantastic Self Drive Holiday Packages
Explore Australia’s high country
26 Oct 2009

Every road trip should have a destination as a sort of reward, and the perfect destination for this easy self-drive is the Australian Alps — the roof of Australia. It’s perfect in that it is the exact opposite of the sub-tropical beaches you have been exploring these last few days.

Now it’s time to park the car and explore this exotic alpine high country by foot, bike, horse, canoe or skis!

When most people think of Australia, they imagine a flat, red, dry continent, beaches and cities hugging the coast. But Australia has a significant and untamed high country which nixes all of those cliches.

The Australian Alps, also known as the Snowy Mountain Ranges, stretch for nearly 400km from the nation’s capital, Canberra, through southern New South Wales and along the Great Divide in eastern Victoria. Here lie more than 1.5 million hectares of rocky landscape where a chain of national parks, protected areas and alpine environments provide a habitat for hundreds of species of plant and animal life found nowhere else on earth.

Of these, the huge Kosciuszko National Park is by far the most diverse and popular. The park is named after Australia’s highest mountain, the 2,228m Mt Kosciuszko, or just “Kozzy”, as the locals call it. Australians in the know will tell you that the hiking trails around the park and to its summit are among the state’s finest summer bushwalks.

Like Australia’s wildlife, its Alps are unique. This is a powerful and dramatic landscape. But rather than craggy pointed peaks created by continental collisions like most of the world’s mountains, these mountains are the remnant of a huge rift that formed when New Zealand peeled away from Australia nearly 100 million years ago.

During the warmer months, this is fantastic, uncrowded hiking country. The granite flanks of these mountains are covered by wildflower meadows, sometimes interspersed with patches of summer snow. Add hills rippling with tussock grass, alpine lakes, twisted snow gums and gurgling streams and it’s a version of the great outdoors that’s hard to resist.

The most popular of all the national park’s walking trails is the hike to the 2,228m summit of Mt Kosciuszko.

The easiest way is via the Crackenback Chairlift from Thredbo Village, from where it’s a moderate two-hour walk over a well-formed track to the summit.

At the foot of the Snowy Mountains lies picturesque Lake Jyndabine. Besides hiking in summer, the area is a playground for rafting, canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking adventures.

But to most Australians (and an increasing number of Asians) the lure of the Snowy Mountains remains the snow. Every winter (June-October), up to 4m of the fluffy white stuff turns these attractive mountains into a winter wonderland.

Of the several resorts that dot the Australian Alps, arguably the most diverse, accessible and attractive is Perisher ( Perisher covers several mountain tops with dozens of runs catering to skiiers of every level. In fact, it is the biggest ski resort in the southern hemisphere. If you are a beginner, there are daily courses to get you on your feet and start having fun. Gear can be rented right in the resort. (Actually there are four connected resorts, the main one is the luxurious Perisher Valley Hotel).

Apart from being family-friendly with all-inclusive packages available for every budget, their coolest feature is that their resort sits right at the foot of the ski slopes. So when you want to go skiing, you literally step out of the hotel and can be on a chairlift heading for fun within two minutes!

I have travelled far and wide in Australia over many years now, and while each attraction is unique, I’m surprised that more visitors to Australia haven’t discovered the jaw-dropping beauty of the Snowy Mountains. A fluffy white heaven just three hours from Canberra, six hours from Sydney and two hours from the beaches, this place has quickly become my favourite place Down Under.

For more information visit

Check with MSL Travel for great self-drive holidays
Education in France
A fascinating mix of age-old traditions and modern vibrancy, France is also a place with exciting educational options.

TO SAY that food is a passion in France will be stating the obvious. Escargots, wines and the famed Brie and Roquefort cheeses are just a few of the items on offer to tantalise the taste buds. Cafes are as ubiquitous as litter is not and with the number of Michelin star restaurants spread across the country, one is assured of gastronomic indulgence.

And Paris has the distinction of being one of the world's fashion capitals and is the base for big names such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Givenchy and Dior.

Haute cuisine and couture aside, France also has a long tradition in scholarship, giving the world thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau and Jean-Paul Sartre. Moreover, French used to be the language of European high society, commonly used in the royal courts up to the 19th century.

It should therefore come as no surprise that France is among today's global leaders in education.

With an estimated 265,000 foreign students, it is only behind the United States and Britain in international student figures and offers a considerable breadth of programmes.

The system in France

The French university curriculum system sees students obtaining a Licence, the equivalent of a basic degree in three years, a Master in another two years and a Doctorat after a total of eight years of study.

France has a total of 3,000-plus institutions of higher learning that include 240 engineering schools and 230 business schools. Around 2,000 of the total are devoted to the niche fields of art, fashion, design and architecture.

There are also 87 public universities, ranging from the venerable Sorbonne in Paris, which dates back to 1179, to the high-tech Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, founded in 1965.

Research is an integral feature in the university system, covering the entire range of academic disciplines and involving more than 300 doctoral programmes and over 1,200 research centres and laboratories.

French doctoral programmes have always held international appeal and the number of foreign doctoral candidates have been on the rise, going up by 7.5% between 1999 and 2004.

Also, there are uniquely French institutions known as the grandes ?coles (specialised schools of higher education). Created in the early 19th century, the elite grandes ?coles are extremely selective and offer education of a very high standard.

Unlike the public universities, which are obliged to accept all candidates who hold a Baccalaureate, grandes ?coles consider applicants solely on the results of competitive oral and written exams.

There are 226 grandes ?coles in France and students who sit for the admission tests often undergo preparatory school, often for two years.

?Normally, 90 to 95% of grandes ?coles students come from preparatory schools while the remainder come from various instituts universitaires de technologie (IUT), known in English as university institutes of technology,? says Universiti Teknologi Petronas lecturer-cum-researcher Dr Mohamad Naufal Mohamad Saad, who studied in France from 1995 to 2005.

Dr Mohd Naufal studied first at IUT de Colmar and later at Ecole Nationale Sup?rieure d'Ing?nieurs de Limoges (National Higher School of Engineers of Limoges).

?Chances of being accepted through the IUT route are slim and I was very fortunate to be accepted,? he admits.

Specialising in a single subject area, mainly in the humanities, business and engineering, grandes ?coles are moderate in size with student populations of 2,000 to 3,000.

All students in France's public institutions, both foreign and local alike, are beneficiaries of a generous amount of government aid that sees them paying a mere ?160 (RM780) to ?500 (RM2,440) per year for tuition when the actual fees are an estimated ?6,000 (RM29,240) to ?15,000 (RM73,100).

Cost of living in France is around ?800 (RM3,890) to ?1,000 (RM4,870) per month, going up to some ?1,200 (RM5,840) in Paris.

This makes France one of the least expensive countries in Europe for international students, who enjoy other benefits such as low-cost dining facilities, student housing, and discounts on transportation and cultural events.

However, bear in mind that the private grandes ?coles charge a high tuition that can cost ?4,000 (RM19,500) to ?10,000 (RM48,730) and beyond.

Apart from business and engineering courses, France is also noted for social science programmes that expose students to the different schools of thought.

A notable institution is the Sciences Po in Paris that is a partner of the Global Public Policy Network together with Columbia University in the United States, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the National University of Singapore.

Agricultural studies are also becoming increasingly popular and France also has some 2,000 schools devoted to the niche fields of art, fashion, design and architecture.

Another interesting feature of French education is the presence of its many ?competitiveness clusters?, a system that sees different regions specialising in various fields of study.

?Each province has its own distinctive academic specialisation,? says Malaysia-France University Centre project coordinator Simon Cordonnier.

?For example, Burgundy specialises in nuclear industries, Brittany in marine biology due to its coastal proximity, Toulouse in aeronautical engineering as the Airbus headquarters and main factory are there, and the Agropolis in Montpellier in agricultural studies.?

It can be tough

There are, says Cordonnier, currently about 500 Malaysian students in France, with some 300 sponsored by the Public Service Department and other government agencies.

Given France's reputation in engineering, most of the Malaysians there are furthering their studies in this field.

Being thousands of miles away from home in a foreign land can be daunting and Malaysians ? and Asians in general ? often have quite a lot of adapting to do, both academically and culturally.

?French education stresses a lot on application,? continues Cordonnier. ?Taking maths as an example, the way to get to the result is more important than the result itself.?

The French emphasis on application, an unfamiliar approach for many Asian students, is aimed at moulding graduates who think critically at both the theoretical and practical levels.

There is also the question of studying in a language that is quite foreign to most Malaysians.

According to Cordonnier, Malaysian students often need to undergo one year of intensive French classes to reach a proficiency level acceptable at university.

?Language is still an obstacle. Efforts are being made to address this and there are some programmes in English at French institutions as well,? he says.

Demands of the classroom aside, there are also the countless stories of how unfriendly your average Frenchman can be to those who do not speak his lingo.

Dr Mohamad Naufal, however, has a different take on this, citing a rather comical episode from those days when he was still a greenhorn in the language,

?I was behind an Asian couple who were asking a Metro personnel some questions in English but he answered them in French. Although my French was not good at the time, I managed to form a question and to my surprise and the couple's annoyance, the Frenchman answered me in fluent English,? he recalls.

?The French people are not unfriendly, but they are definitely proud of their language and appreciate it if you make an effort.?

But there are rewards

It is the home of breathtaking architectural styles reflected in the likes the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum, which also houses iconic artworks such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

For football fans, there is of course the Stade de France, the venue of French football's finest moment ? the 3-0 win over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup Final.

And if what France has on offer is not quite enough, the country is right next to nine others, namely Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Britain, Monaco and Andorra, so travel options during the summers are aplenty.

?I had a great experience in France mixing with the locals, and my 10 years there can be summarised as a great adventure,? enthused Dr Mohamad Naufal.

For more information, contact the Malaysia-France University Centre at 03-27315880 or e-mail: or go to its website at

MSL Travel has student fares to France
Recognition for Polish Medical degrees
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian students wishing to pursue medical studies will soon have another option.

The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), the main body responsible for evaluating and according recognition to foreign institutes, is expected to add Poland to its list of destinations for medical studies.

It is believed that the MMC has so far conducted two visits to three institutes in the country, the first in June last year and the last one as recently as a month ago.

The three institutes are the Medical University in Lodz, the Faculty of Medicine of University of Krakow and the Medical Academy of Warsaw.

However, it is said that only one of the three ? most probably, the Medical Academy of Warsaw ? would be accorded recognition this year while two others would have to wait.

Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, who is also MMC president, confirmed that the council would be according recognition to Poland?s medical degrees.

?We have visited the institutes in Poland and an approval is pending. Hopefully, it will be this year,? he said, but declined to name the institutes.

Recently, the Public Service Department had announced that it would be sending its scholars to Poland and the Czech Republic for this year?s medical study intake.

So far, Poland is not included in the list of countries under the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971, which currently has 333 recognised institutes in, among others, Egypt, Australia, Ireland, Russia and Indonesia.

Deputy Head of the Polish mission in Malaysia Slawomir Krakowski confirmed that the MMC had conducted visits to the three institutes mentioned.

?Our embassy has yet to receive the announcement of the Government?s final decision. But we do know there is already a first batch of students from Malaysia ready to pursue medical courses in Poland,? he said.

The three Czech Republic medical institutes recognised are the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Hradec Kralove and the Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Olomouc.

Dr Ismail also confirmed that there were currently no universities in Romania recognised by the Government despite advertisements in newspapers.
Recognised CZECH Medical Universities
Recently, the Public Service Department had announced that it would be sending its scholars to the Czech Republic for this year?s medical study intake.

The three Czech Republic medical institutes recognised are the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Hradec Kralove and the Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Olomouc.
Bogus students
by R. Manirajan

PUTRAJAYA: A cabinet minister yesterday gave a shocking estimate of the extent that foreigners are abusing student visas to work here ? 40%.
If Home Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad's estimate is anything to go by, it would mean that some 16,000 foreign students are fakes as the Higher Education Ministry had put their population at about 40,000.

Radzi said some of these students come with the sole intention to work as the immigration levy for students is only RM90. But if they come here to work, the levy is more than RM1,000.

The student visa offers a cheap way to get into Malaysia, and some college administrations are willing to join forces with syndicates bringing in foreign workers as they can earn commissions.

Radzi told a post-cabinet press conference:"I believe about 40% of the foreign students in private colleges are here not to study, but to work and some of the recruitment agencies which can and have brought in students in big numbers have tied up with the colleges." He, however, stressed that some of the private colleges are above board.

He highlighted an operation last week by the ministry on a private college in Kedah where they found 207 students registered in the college. Of these, only six were Malaysians, the rest being Pakistanis (151) and Bangladeshis (41). The rest were from India, Thailand, Indonesia, China and Nigeria.

The foreign students were registered for information system courses but never attended classes. They were working elsewhere, like selling carpets.

Radzi said the ministry is tracking down the students and had recommended to the Higher Education Ministry to shut down this college.

"I think the Higher Education Ministry should find a mechanism to monitor such colleges and close them down.

"In our overzealous ambition to be an education hub, we might have overlooked some of the loopholes, and I think the Higher Education Ministry needs to take immediate action against such colleges; in fact quick action." Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed had on Sept 18 said it had withdrawn approval to four private colleges to admit foreign students after they were found to have brought in workers. The decision followed an audit of 182 private institutes of higher learning between April and Sept 15.
Ten tips for studying abroad
IT IS your first day in a foreign land. You are not too sure where to go, what to eat or which bus route to take. You pull out your glossy little Lonely Planet guidebooks and curse yourself for not trawling through more of these before flying halfway across the globe.

Of late, more and more young people are taking up the option of studying abroad as exchange students, eager to take on the role of globetrotting scholars.

Now, being an exchange student can be very exciting and an important highlight in one?s academic journey. It is also a character building opportunity as youngsters learn to be independent in a place filled with unfamiliar faces.

However, from experience, I have discovered that exchange students have a unique set of concerns to contend with and, without adequate preparation, may end up experiencing a bumpy ride.

1. What to pack

How can you possibly know what you will need for the next six to 12 months?

Should you pack along a duffel bag filled with instant noodles and your favourite John Grishams? What if they don?t have Kit Kat bars where you are going?

Be practical and pack only what you need. You are not going to read all those paperbacks and survive on instant noodles when you are trying to experience a new culture.

Remember, food is every country?s biggest love affair and the best way to participate in a local culture is to eat its food.

Find out what the weather is like and bring suitable clothes. If you plan to jungle-trek and camp, bring outdoor attire and a sleeping bag.

Can?t live without your trusty hair dryer? Check if you will need to bring a power adaptor. The same goes for your handphone charger.

As you pack, throw in some ziplock plastic bags and keep your toiletries sealed in them.

You can also keep your camera and films in these, for if all else gets wet, there will still be proof of your fun-filled trip, all the way to the photo album!

Another must-have is a first aid kit. Choose one made of fabric like soft canvas for easy storage.

If you need to bring along specific medicine, make sure you have sufficient supplies. Label the medicine clearly and carry with you the necessary prescriptions. Customs officers might get suspicious of packets of unlabelled pills in your possession.

Also, pack along a palm-sized sewing kit as wear and tear can take its toll on your backpack and clothes.

2. Carry identification

Apply early for your passport and visas, and photocopy all identification documents before you leave your home country. Give one set to your parents and another to your home country?s exchange programme counsellor.

Keep at least one set for yourself. This makes it easier to process another batch of identification should the original documents get lost or stolen when you are away from home.

Never keep the copies together with the originals.

Also, make it a point to register with the nearest embassy or consulate upon arriving at your host country. This will make your presence known in case of an emergency.

3. Health matters

Ensure that you have sufficient medical insurance to cover various needs, particularly if you plan to indulge in high-risk sports such as jumping off towers and racing down rivers.

Identify your host country?s immunisation requirements, and see your physician, dentist and optometrist prior to your departure. It is also advisable to take along an optical prescription, in case you need to order new glasses or contact lenses.

If you need to see a doctor while abroad, consult with locals first, or you may well end up with a huge bill.

4. Research your host country

It is essential to get your facts right, especially when it comes to practical information such as the average cost of living, latest exchange rate and the best way to move around. Some students are keen to take up part-time jobs abroad.

Whatever it is, be it making sense of a subway map or finding out about a special work visa, the host country?s exchange programme counsellor is often the best person to consult.

Take the effort to find out about your host country?s geography, people and culture. Knowing your host country?s problems and current national affairs will help you communicate better with the locals.

Speaking of communication, the choice of country in the first place depends on a student?s desire ? or hesitation ? to speak in a foreign language. For instance, if you wish to learn Spanish or take up French, make sure you know at least the basics of the language before you pack and go, unless you wish to look like a lost tourist with the IQ of a cupcake.

Bear in mind that some countries are notorious for their insistence on ?helping? foreigners polish up language skills by speaking only in their language.

5. Getting over culture shock

Alas, no matter how much research you?ve done, you are still bound to experience a certain measure of culture shock once you are there. Almost everyone abroad goes through this ? from getting used to the food and language to buying fruit and figuring out how to cross the road without breaking the law.

Basically, there are four stages of culture shock ? the ?honeymoon?, rejection, adjustment and recovery. The ?honeymoon? sees you enthralled by the exotic sights before you. Once your initial passion diminishes, however, you will start to feel frustrated, edgy and a tad homesick.

Among the few things you can do to get through this period is to expect the unexpected. Allow yourself the liberty to mess up ? it is impossible to fit into a new culture immediately, no matter how hard you try.

Make friends with other exchange students as well as local ones. Group together and organise outings like a weekend getaway, a game of tennis or even a carefree night out in the city.

And finally, be ready for anything. You never know when you may find yourself in the midst of a local custom your guidebooks did not warn you about. Keep your sense of humour and an open mind, but set limits. If local customs involve dancing on broken glass or eating fermented squids and you?re just not up to this, respectfully decline.

6. Academic freedom

In many Asian countries, university students find their academic paths set for them ? there is not need to consider options because decisions are made for them.

In contrast, students in Europe manage their own academic affairs and are given a great deal of freedom to choose courses.

But don?t let this throw you off balance. You will soon come to terms with the system and discover the advantages of being able to develop according to your interests.

7. Living on a budget

Most exchange students are on a tight leash where budget is concerned but do not fret. There are ways to eat out without having to spend like a duke.

Forget tuxedoed waiters, crystal chandeliers and leather-bound menus ? look beyond these luxuries and start ?eating on the cheap?. Check out where local students and average Joes eat. Authentic local cuisine need not be expensive if you know where to go.

Ultimately, takeouts are the way to go for anyone on a really strict budget, so be sure to identify bakeries and mini-marts close to where you live.

As for accommodation, in-campus hostels are the best choice if you are looking for safe, affordable accommodation, plus the chance to socialise with your peers.

The next best bet is sharing an apartment with other students.

Again, check with your host country?s exchange programme counsellor and look out for notices put up on bulletin boards reserved for students.

8. Keeping records

Documenting your experience abroad is a must! Pen your thoughts about the places you visit and the people you meet.

A fantastic way to beef up your journal is to accompany your jottings with a collection of ?trip bits? ? subway maps, phone cards, ticket stubs, restaurant receipts and even playful sketches of, say, views from your apartment window or you at the beach with sand between your toes. Have your journal close at hand when you need to take down street directions, scribble out restaurant suggestions or exchange contact information with new friends. This is another way to spice up your travel memoirs.

9. A little piece of home

Try to bring souvenirs from your hometown ? key chains, postcards and little trinkets with a local flavour. These gifts are easy to carry and excellent gestures of appreciation. You can give these inexpensive gifts to, say, a helpful taxi driver or an innkeeper who points out a fantastic cafe known only to locals.

Last but not least, don?t forget to pack along pictures of your family and friends back home as they do wonders for striking up conversation with new friends.

10. ISIC

Usually, students on exchange programmes are bitten by the wanderlust bug. For example, if you are studying in Paris and enjoying life as a baguette-and-Brie backpacker traversing all over France, why not go the extra mile and see the rest of Europe?

For many, nothing is more associated with youth travel than owning an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) ? you immediately become part of a global community made of millions of students who share a passion for travel and adventure.

The card allows you access to over 30,000 discounts and benefits in at least 100 countries worldwide, including access to a 24-hour multilingual emergency helpline service.

For more information on ISIC, visit

You can apply for the ISIC at MSL Travel. You require:
a. complete an application form
b. Attach PROOF of your full-time student status
c. MYR 20.00

Information & Application Form can be downloaded from the MSL Website:

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