|1.||SPM 2017 Exam Results Announced on 15Mar18|
|...Friday, 16th March 2018|
|2.||STPM 2017 results announced on 05Mar18|
|...Wednesday, 7th March 2018|
|3.||Johor offers quality education|
|...Thursday, 19th October 2017|
|4.||Five Malaysian varsities continue to rise in rankings|
|...Tuesday, 17th October 2017|
|5.||The 7As of Education|
|...Thursday, 23rd April 2015|
|6.||SPM Exam 2014 results |
|...Wednesday, 4th March 2015|
|7.||STPM Exam 2014 Results|
|...Wednesday, 4th March 2015|
|8.||Higher Education in POLAND|
|...Sunday, 29th November 2009|
|9.||Australia Self Drive Holidays - Road trippin’ Down Under|
|...Monday, 26th October 2009|
|10.||Explore Australia’s high country|
|...Monday, 26th October 2009|
|11.||Malaysian education system is in real dire straits|
|...Sunday, 12th April 2009|
|12.||Malaysia: Decade-old fare structure turns them into rogues|
|...Sunday, 12th April 2009|
|13.||English : The global language|
|...Friday, 30th January 2009|
|14.||Students want University Colleges Act reviewed|
|...Saturday, 31st May 2008|
|15.||Student Visa Deception: they can work only during semester breaks|
|...Monday, 26th May 2008|
|16.||Many students still not fluent in English|
|...Monday, 28th January 2008|
|17.||Speaking another language can open many doors|
|...Monday, 28th January 2008|
|18.||Education in France|
|...Sunday, 16th December 2007|
|19.||Malaysians can now study medicine in Poland|
|...Sunday, 30th September 2007|
|20.||Malaysia: Bill on air travel passed|
|...Friday, 29th June 2007|
|21.||Study in Saudi Arabia|
|...Monday, 4th June 2007|
|22.||Doing medicine in Egypt|
|...Thursday, 10th May 2007|
|23.||Recognition for Polish Medical degrees|
|...Monday, 2nd April 2007|
|24.||Recognised CZECH Medical Universities|
|...Monday, 2nd April 2007|
|25.||AGREEMENT BETWEEN UNWTO & WYSETC TO BOOST YOUTH TOURISM|
|...Monday, 5th February 2007|
|26.||Bogus students 40% OF `FOREIGN STUDENTS' ARE HERE TO WORK, SAYS HOME MINISTRY|
|...Thursday, 28th September 2006|
|27.||More Travel Tips for Students Travelling Abroad for Studies|
|...Monday, 31st July 2006|
|28.||Ten tips for studying abroad|
|...Monday, 24th July 2006|
|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.
|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.
|Johor offers quality education|
19 Oct 2017
JOHOR BARU: Johor has stepped up in accommodating the demand for private or international education in the state and there is no need for Malaysian children to cross into Singapore daily for the purpose.
State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said while parents were free to enrol their children in the school of their choice, it was not necessary for them to cross the border for it.
“Johor has more than enough public, private or international schools that offer quality education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
“We have a total of 16 international schools offering primary and secondary education throughout the state, most of which are located in the Iskandar Malaysia region,” he said in an interview.
Parents, he said, can pick from a wide range of international syllabus options for their children.
“After the primary and secondary levels, students can opt to pursue their tertiary education at one of the nine top-notched institutions at EduCity, located in the heart of Iskandar Malaysia,” he said.
The thriving education hub offers a wide range of courses in various fields, from medicine to information, communication and technology, he added.
Among the learning institutions are University of Reading Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles University Iskandar and University of Southampton Malaysia Campus.
Others are Marlborough College Malaysia, Management Development Institute of Singapore, Multimedia University and Raffles American School.
Austin Heights Education Sdn Bhd development director Chong Khai Siang said the number of students going to Singapore to study has declined, mainly because of the unfavourable currency factor.
He said the weak ringgit made it less affordable for parents to send their children to attend school in the republic as the education levy for foreign students are revised once every two years.
“Another one of the parents’ concerns is that their children tend to seek employment in Singapore and live there after finishing their studies,” he said.
Chong said about 65% of the students were locals (out of the some 970 students) enrolled at Austin Heights Private and International School, Mount Austin, here – the largest international school in town.
“We also have a small number of Singaporeans who study at our school as they could not enrol in international schools on the island,” he said, adding that the school has students of 27 nationalities.
He said the international school offered full-fledged preschool syllabus to secondary school International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum recognised by the University of Cambridge.
|Five Malaysian varsities continue to rise in rankings|
17 Oct 2017
PETALING JAYA: All five of Malaysia’s research universities continue to climb the rankings ladder with Universiti Malaya (UM) leading the pack.
UM, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) are in the top 50 among the 11,900 universities in Asia, according to the 2018 edition of the QS University Rankings: Asia.
UM is ranked 24th among Asian universities, rising three spots from 27 last year, while UPM is ranked 36th, UKM ranked 43rd, USM is 46th and UTM is at 49th. All of them have improved their rankings compared with last year (see table).
The regional university rankings, released yesterday by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds, see 27 Malaysian higher education institutions being listed in the top 400 within the region.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh congratulated all the Malaysian universities that made it into this year’s edition of the rankings.
“The ministry is always supportive of your endeavours to make Malaysian higher education great and believes in the synergy that exists among higher education institutions, which helps foster a dynamic and innovative ecosystem,” he said in a statement.
UM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said the rise in rankings was due to the cumulative efforts of its staff and students.
“Although rankings are not the only thing that is important to UM, the management believes that these provide a gauge of its progress over the years.
“To improve its ranking, UM is now embarking on a mid-term review of its plans and adjusting and responding to the financial challenges that have arisen over the last two years.
“The financial constraints are posing new challenges to UM but it is rising to the occasion and will try its best to continue improving,” he said.
UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris said it was committed to strengthening its academic and research processes and continuing on its journey to become a world-class university.
Two private universities are also among the top 200 in the region –Taylor’s University (150) and Multimedia University (179). Both climbed up from the 179th and 193rd positions.
Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president Professor Michael Driscoll said the jump in its ranking showed that the university was on the right path and underlined the quality of education it provided.
The table is led for the first time by Singapore’s Nanyang Technolo-gical University. It takes the number one position from the National University of Singapore, which now ranks second.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is at third position, up one rung from last year.
|My View - The 7As of education|
Posted on 21 April 2015 -
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
THE issue relating to education is always a challenging one. More so because education is said to be changing, and failing, depending on how critical your point of view is. Minimally, however, many would agree that there ought to be some tinkering to meet the demands on the need to conform. The other extreme is of course to reform, transform and revolutionise – all of these words have been used in the context of Malaysia at some point. Now we seem to be in a transformative mode of some kind after two blueprints were unveiled: one for preschool to pre-university (PPPM 2013-2025), and more recently for higher education (PPPM-PT 2015-2025). Taken together these two attempts draw a continuum of transformational changes that build a common platform over the next decade at least. While each is driven by their own transformation processes (called "shifts) they share some common aspirations, namely five system aspirations to enhance access, equity, quality, unity, and efficiency; in addition to six student aspirations on expending knowledge, thinking skills, leadership, language literacy, ethics and spirituality, and national identity.
These aspirations are entwined with each other where the different "shifts" act as levers in ensuring that the relationships are not only complete but wholesome. This will be the measure of how successful the transformation is, and how spot-on is the implementation to shift the entire education system as planned.
There are fundamentally 7As that are vital to characterise a successful education system universally. The first A is accessibility, that is, how many people – from children to adults – can be educated without much difficulty, financially or otherwise. While at some levels the numbers are very encouraging, especially with the provision of universal education, this is not so as we go up the education ladder.
This takes us to the second A, affordability, meaning even though education is accessible but it may not be affordable as in the case of higher education mainly. They have been getting more prohibitive over the years and the disparities between those who can afford a good education and those who are not able to keeps widening. So much so education is becoming a source of socio-economic imbalance instead of the reverse. Governments too are confronted with the issue of affordability as the cost for education escalates at a rate of about 15% a year in Malaysia. Accessibility is therefore constrained by the financial-related considerations which are beginning to distort the educational balance when public spending is thinly spread over too many demands.
The third A is appropriateness. This includes the issue of quality and context, the definition of success and excellence, indeed the model of the education system itself.
Most of these issues are sadly herded by a one-size-fits-all mentality to be benchmarked by the rest of the world. We seem to forget that education is as much about culture as national identity rooted in the National Philosophy of Education (NPE) of a country. Thus for Malaysia the NPE emphasises on the nurturing of a balanced human being (insan seimbang) nourished by the belief in God, and not – as the case today, of "human capital" that is dictated by the "free" market.
The fourth A is autonomy through which the first three As can be consolidated taking into account the diverse and unique context that allows for a viable quality education to meet the need of the individual, community (including family) and the nation. Finland is an excellent example. It recognises at once the richness of other creative models that are locally relevant but with a global outreach. The idea of a "national" university is one where it becomes a cultural conduit to connect to the various worlds of education in the spirit of being truly international.
Autonomy invariably conjectures another A – academic freedom, which in essence is the thought and intellectual force that enriches the education system at all levels in the search for truth for humanity as a whole. Such is the demand on education beyond the narrow prevailing colonised market logic of mere material acquisition. With it is the penultimate A, accountability, which dwells on the deeper practice of ethics, integrity and moral responsibility without which creates what is known as "an education without soul" or "heartless education" that is so prevalent today. It tends to corrupt more than it educates.
Lastly, A for availability. All these must be readily available within an ecosystem that links the 7As optimally in our "own mould" as desired by Wawasan 2020. Only then we can be assured of a meaningful education transformation that we Malaysians can take pride in! Maybe a bonus A – Apex!
|04 March 2015|
The overall Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) achievement declined with fewer students scoring straight A’s, and educators attribute this to possibly a change in the way questions were structured.
Of the 429,003 students who took the examination last year, 11,289 (2.63%) scored straight A’s – compared to 13,970 (3.16%) out of 442,588 students in 2013.
The National Average Grade (GPN) was at 5.08, compared with 4.93 in 2013. (A lower GPN shows a better overall performance).
Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said the decline in student performance and the reduced number of top scorers could be due to a change in the way questions were structured.
“The questions were the same as before, but students now need to think more when they answer. They can’t just revise lessons the old way, or spot questions, to do well,” he said.
“Those who took the time to properly understand the subject matter would have done well.
“But the decline is still within the acceptable range, as the overall performance of students will rise and dip slightly through the years,” he said when announcing the analysis of the 2014 SPM results at the Education Ministry here yesterday.
The percentage of students who obtained SPM certificates also dropped slightly to 85.02%, from 85.52% the previous year.
This is the second SPM examination where students were required to pass History in addition to Bahasa Melayu, to qualify for a certificate.
The percentage of students who passed the English subject fell from 80% in 2013 to 77.3%.
English will be made a compulsory pass in the SPM from 2016. Some 86% of students passed History in 2014 compared to 86.6% in 2013, while 91.1% passed Bahasa Melayu in 2014 compared to 91.4% in 2013.
Comparing the performance of urban and rural students, Dr Khair said rural school candidates scored GPN points of 5.4 compared to the 4.85 garnered by those from urban schools.
“The performance gap between urban and rural candidates has narrowed to 0.55, compared with 0.60 in 2013,” he said.
Under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, the ministry has steadily increased the number of “higher order thinking skills” questions in public examinations, with such questions expected to comprise 75% of papers for SPM core subjects by 2016.
|04 March 2015|
The percentage of candidates who scored a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) in Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2014 has increased.
The 2014 examination saw a 0.91% increase or 390 candidates obtaining a 4.0 CGPA compared to 0.89% or 492 candidates in the previous year.
Although the percentage has improved, the lower number of candidates is due to a decrease in the number of students who registered for STPM last year compared to 2013.
Malaysian Examination Council (MEC) president Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin noted a drop in candidates, from 58,355 students in 2013 to 48,615 students last year.
“It is a drop of 16.69% (9,740 candidates),” he told reporters when announcing the analysis of the STPM 2014 results yesterday.
He said the MEC would investigate the reason behind the drop, adding that the second group of STPM candidates who underwent the new modular format did better than the pioneer batch of 2013.
STPM has undergone a change in format from the terminal system, which was based on one final exam, to the modular system, which assesses students continuously over three terms in Sixth Form.
While candidates can take up to five subjects for STPM, Prof Mohd Noh said the CGPA points are calculated based on the best scores for four subjects, including General Studies.
“The average CGPA for government schools went up from 2.55% in 2013 to 2.62% last year,” he said, adding that 10 out of 3,039 candidates who took five subjects got straight As for STPM 2014.
He also said the percentage of candidates who passed all their subjects increased to 97.81% (41,915 candidates) compared to 2013, which saw a passing rate of 96.85% (53,494 candidates).
“These improvements show that student performance will continue to improve under the new format,” he added.
He said this was because under the new format, candidates sit for their finals at the end of every semester and are tested based on that semester’s subject content alone.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin congratulated students who obtained their results yesterday.
“The students’ success is the result of hard work by their families and teachers, too,” he said in a statement.
|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 (www.wum.edu.pl/english)
+ Medicawl University of Lodz (www.umed.pl/eng)
+ Jagiellonian University (www.medschool.cm-uj.krakow.pl)
or the Embassy of Poland (www.kualalumpur.polemb.net)
MSL has student fares to POLAND
|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 (www.grandpacificdrive.com.au). 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 (www.dolphinwatch.com.au) 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 (www.balloonaloft.com). 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.
Buy travel insurance
. FURTHER INFO
This site is very useful in finding any self-drive related information plus downloadable itineraries and brochures: www.australianroadtrips.com
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: www.australia.com
For the best deals to Australia from Malaysia direct, check with MAS and AirAsia X: www.malaysiaairlines.com OR www.airasia.com
Check with MSL Travel for fantastic Self Drive Holiday Packages
|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 (www.perisher.com.au). 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 www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks
Check with MSL Travel for great self-drive holidays
|Malaysia faces many challenges in the coming years in the run-up to Vision 2020, it would come as no surprise that an issue like education is lost in all the political commotion and in light of more pressing issues like corruption.|
I think politicians have to wake up to the fact that our public education system needs to be improved. Thus far, the Government has been taking a “if it ain’t broke why fix it” approach to the matter.
I applaud the increased Government expenditure on education infrastructure, but it seems like yet another case of the notorious tagline attached to our country - “first world infrastructure, third world mentality”.
The Government seems to be under the impression that education can be improved by throwing money at it. What it doesn’t see is that we need to invest in our educationists.
I have great admiration for anyone who devotes his or her life to teaching. It is an extremely respectable profession.
As such, we need to ease the burden on them. Poor wages deter them from wanting to teach in schools. Very often, teachers in our schools are not so much people who love teaching but rather people who can’t find jobs elsewhere and end up in schools as a matter of circumstances.
As a result, we have English teachers who barely speak English and Geography teachers who don’t know the fundamental issues regarding Geography.
We could learn a thing or two from Singapore. Our neighbour offers complete scholarships for anyone in college opting to become teachers. They are well paid and are often given exposure overseas.
In Singapore, students compete intensely to secure places in public institutions of higher education.
In Malaysia, the best students pay their way through private education because they have lost faith in the public system.
We have to come to terms with the fact that the teaching of proper English in our schools is a must if we wish to remain competitive at the global level.
While I agree that Bahasa Malaysia is essential to our national identity, we must not ignore English. I do not believe that teaching Science and Mathematics in English is sufficient as these subjects hardly require the use of proper English. Students can easily get by without having to string a proper sentence together.
Finally, we must not spoon-feed our children and expect them to regurgitate the facts. This is not what education is all about. They must be allowed to think for themselves.
I currently study in the United Kingdom and my university is culturally diverse. Despite having so many people from all over the world, it is not difficult to spot a Malaysian in my seminar groups.
They are the ones without an opinion. They are so used to being spoon-fed that they cannot adapt and or think for themselves.
We need intelligent, outspoken people who can think outside the box to power our country forward so that it remains competitive with the advanced nations.
I love my country and it pains me to see young minds with so much potential being squandered. It is my hope that the new Education Minister will take note of the urgent need for change.
|The Malaysian Transport System is the result of years of political abuse lacking the one thing all Malaysians want:|
AN EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Taxi drivers are calling for a fare restructure, saying that the rates have not increased from the RM2 flag fare for more than 12 years.
Yet many taxi drivers, especially those who rent from taxi companies, need to pay about RM50 for rental and RM20 for natural gas each working day.
This does not take into account the vehicle’s maintenance cost and the drivers’ daily expenses.
It is learnt that the daily income of most taxi drivers totals an average of RM75 for about 12 hours of work.
The result? Ninety-eight per cent of taxi drivers – checked in a two-week Road Transport Department (JPJ) operation – flout the rules such as not using the meter and overcharging.
The biggest offence of all is refusing to pick up a paying passenger.
The Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board chief, Datuk Markiman Kobiran, even admitted in a recent press conference that it was running out of solutions to bring “rogue” taxi drivers to heel.
In fact, he likened the situation to a “war with no end like the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.
Markiman also said that a proposal had been sent to the Cabinet to review the fare structure of not just the taxi but also of rental cars, mini buses, stage coaches and express buses.
“We have not decided on anything. After extensive studies, we have submitted a paper to the Cabinet,” was all he could say when contacted on Thursday.
JPJ director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan said nothing less than a complete overhaul of the taxi system would solve the problem of the worsening quality of taxi services.
“The Government has got to overhaul the system to raise the standards (of taxi service),” he told The Star recently.
Solah said everything from the traffic flow system, locations of taxi stands and drivers’ ethics had to be reviewed.
In the meantime, Solah said taxi companies had to take self-regulation more seriously.
“Do you wait until the health enforcement officers come and tell you to close shop before you wash your shop? Of course not. This is my point,” he said.
“Owner-operators and cab companies should have stringent measures to vet their drivers. They should look at the background of the driver. You hired the fellow, you must make sure that he behaves.”
As for the individual permit holders, Solah said they could take different jobs if they felt being a taxi driver was too difficult to earn a living.
“And if you’re part-time, have you gotten permission from your employer to take on another job?” he said.
“If they still can’t earn a living, why not do other jobs? Did someone force them? Is it really true that you cannot earn a living?”
Responding to a suggestion that JPJ place more officers in taxi “hotspots” where most of the offences are being committed, Solah said they could only effectively watch over 30% of the drivers.
Furthermore, he pointed out that it was unrealistic for JPJ officers to ask every taxi driver whether they were using the meter.
“The driver would just tell his passenger that there was a JPJ officer earlier and promptly change the charged fare. This will make things worse,” he said.
Solah also revealed that the JPJ had only 650 enforcement officers to watch over Klang Valley’s 25,000 taxis and their drivers, not to mention the heavy vehicles, private vehicles and buses.
|I WAS one of the lucky students who benefited from the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. Now that I am doing a pre-university course at a private college, I realise how useful English has been for me as all my text books and reference books are in the language.|
One of my college seniors who had studied in a local school before the policy change described his first year in college as “miserable” as he was unable to grasp all that was said during his lectures which were conducted in English.
Many in his batch and those before, had said that it was “an ordeal” to remember and spell scientific terms like “photosynthesis” in English.
It was during these times that the students wished they were fluent in English.
I strongly feel that we should not take a step backward and have a situation where students have to start looking at the Internet, or poring over the dictionary to check the meaning of basic English terms and phrases.
Look at our public universities today. They are nowhere near the standard they were in nearly three decades ago. None of our universities are ranked in the world’s top 200, and this is a far cry compared to neighbouring Singapore, and the rest of Asia where the standard is much higher.
The low English proficiency among university undergraduates is perhaps one of the reasons why Malaysian universities don’t excel as well as the others in the region.
The students are unable to learn and apply new concepts and theories with their limited vocabulary which has an effect on a university’s overall performance. More worrying is the high rate of unemployment among fresh graduates.
Under such circumstances, would it not be better for Education Ministry officials to stick to the current policy? While there are complaints about teaching methods, further training can be given to the teachers to hone their skills.
We should also move forward by doing away with bilingual question papers for both Maths and Science during major examinations as teachers and students will then have no choice but to use only English.
While positive results may not come immediately, we would surely reach the desired level of proficiency in time to come.
To the nay-sayers of the current policy, please wake up and accept this change. We should not have an education system that will only create jaguh kampung (village champions) who will be afraid to embrace the challenges of a competitive world.
And to those who feel the survival of the mother tongue is a major concern, then emphasise the teaching of these languages to every individual as a separate subject in schools. It is not a wise move to stop the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.
|PUTRAJAYA: University students must be given more freedom to enable them to play a constructive role in society.|
Universiti Malaya (UM) Student Representative Council president Afandy Sutrisno Tanjung said this was among the issues raised by student leaders at their closed-door dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Thursday.
?We want the Government to consider our views when amending the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971,
?It is very restrictive as we are not even allowed to get involved in non-governmental organisations now,? he told a press conference.
The student leaders want Sections 15A, 15B, 15C, and 15D, 16B (1), 16B (2) and 16B (3), 16C and 51(1) to be reviewed.
The student leaders from 19 public universities later presented a memorandum on their demands to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Besides UUCA, they also asked that the administrative fee collected by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) be reviewed and that the ceiling for loan amounts are increased.
?We want a decision on the administrative charge to be made by the National Fatwa Council to determine whether it is Islamic or not. We would prefer that Islamic banking principles be used when disbursing loans,? said Afandy.
The students also called on the Government to provide free, high-width broadband access at all public university campuses.
?We are also asking that public university campuses be declared ?low price zones?. Sometimes the food sold on campus is more expensive than what is available outside,? added Afandy.
|IN Malaysia, as in most countries, many foreign students have to work part-time to make ends meet. |
The problem is that the law only allows them to work during their semester break.
Immigration Department enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohammad said foreign students could only work in four sectors - kiosks, restaurants, petrol pumps and in non-frontline hotel jobs.
"They cannot work more than 20 hours a week and can only work during their semester breaks.
"They must also get our approval via their college."
A Nigerian student, who only wanted to be known as King, said many foreign students worked part-time in order to survive.
"It is really difficult to survive without any income here as most foreign students come from countries with a lower currency exchange rate.
"We need the extra money as our families cannot fully support us.
"The government should allow students to work for an hour or two a day to earn some pocket money."
However, King condemned those who misused students visas to work full-time or commit crime.
"The government must come down hard on these people," said the 24-year-old computer science student.
Another foreign student, who declined to be named, said giving out visas to those not planning to study was a normal practice in many institutions.
"It's like a business for many colleges, especially those who don't have a good reputation academically.
"They offer programmes from obscure overseas universities and charge students the full fees.
"When students don't turn up for classes, they just cover up the attendance records," he said.
|PETALING JAYA: A total of 40,222 or 47.79% of all candidates achieved Band Three or higher in the Malaysian University English Test (MUET). |
According to a statement from the Malaysian Examinations Council, 37 obtained Band Six, 1,424 Band Five, 9,702 Band Four, 29,059 Band Three, 32,656 Band Two and 11,271 Band One.
A total of 84,149 candidates sat for the test.
MUET, which tests listening, speaking, reading and writing, classifies candidates according to six bands or levels of achievement, from Very Good User (Band Six) to Extremely Limited User (Band One).
Those wishing to retake the test can register at their respective state education departments or district education offices by Jan 30.
|KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysians speak more than one language, and there is real benefit in learning another ? especially in this increasingly globalised world. |
Lim Sep Neo, a part-time lecturer at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), explains some advantages of learning French.
?Malaysia has a lot of relations with French-speaking nations such as the African countries of Chad, Senegal and Algeria.
Lim Sep Neo
?We have people coming from these countries to do business or work at government missions, and we need people who speak French to deal with them.?
It is even more relevant if the country wants to promote itself further as a tourist destination.
She said if there were more locals learning foreign languages, tourists would be drawn to the country and the economy could grow even more. ?Tourism brings big money,? added Lim.
Additionally, those who learn French may find their English improving as well.
?There are many words in the English language that are derived directly from French such as fait accompli and esprit de corps.?
Those learning French will then not only learn the proper pronunciation of these phrases, but have a better understanding of its meaning as well.
Another benefit of learning French is the literary world it opens.
?France has a great tradition of literary works. You can read the works in their original language instead of the English translations, which tend to dilute the essence of the story,? said Lim.
She added that there was no reason to be intimidated by French language classes.
?We also learn by singing French songs and watching French movies, which makes the whole experience very enjoyable.?
Lim has 20 years of experience in education and is proficient in French, English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Conducting lessons in the Korean language is her colleague Jane Teoh, who has travelled extensively in Korea since 1999.
The beginner-level classes for both Korean and French languages is 30 hours over 15 weeks at the Centre for Extension Education, Utar. The course fee is RM400.
Korean language classes begin on Feb 20, and French classes on Feb 22.
For more information, contact Utar at 03-7357-2818/03-7955-5181 or e-mail your enquiries to email@example.com or visit www.utar.com.my.
|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: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to its website at www.mfuc.org.
MSL Travel has student fares to France
|KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have more options to study medicine abroad with three Polish universities gaining accreditation here for their medical degree programmes. |
The institutions are the Medical University of Warsaw, Medical University of Lodz, and Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow.
A Higher Education Ministry team visited Poland in 2005 to vet the country?s medical programmes.
Polish Ambassador Eugeniusz Sawicki said ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Zulkefli A. Hassan relayed the news to him when they met with Polish education officials who were here for the recent European Higher Education Fair.
The Public Services Department, in a letter to the envoy, confirmed that minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed had made the decision in a meeting on Aug 9.
?It?s a breakthrough for us as this is the first time Poland?s medical programmes are recognised by Malaysia.
?The cost of pursuing a medical degree in Poland is much lower compared to other European countries.
?For example, you pay ?12,000 euros (RM60,000) a year in Poland, compared to about ?30,000 (RM150,000) in Britain,? the envoy said in an interview.
Sawicki, who has been working hard to promote bilateral educational co-operation, is feeling optimistic in tapping his country?s developing education market from here.
Last week, he sent off the first private Malaysian student to pursue medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw. Thirty government-sponsored students will enrol at the university later. The medical course is conducted in English.
The envoy said education networking between Poland and Malaysia was gaining further strides with co-operation extended to the technical field as well.
Four UiTM Skudai students will study Optics in Science and Technology at the Warsaw University of Technology under a technical co-operation programme.
|THE House has approved the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill 2007 to enable the country to be a part of the 1999 Montreal Convention which provides for higher compensation and benefits to passengers such as claims for flight delays. |
Compensation for lost luggage, flight delays and cancellations were among the concerns raised by MPs during the debate on the Bill.
Once enforced, passengers can claim for higher compensation such as RM5,000 for mishandled or missing baggage and RM20,000 for flight delays, which were previously not allocated under the Warsaw Convention, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar.
Tengku Azlan said the Bill also covered compensation for missing baggage at KL Sentral.
He said Malaysia currently practised the international carriage by air liability system based on the 1929 Warsaw Convention, which limits the amount of claims.
The Bill was amended following the government?s decision to join the Montreal Convention (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) and the related Protocols, which would supercede the Warsaw Convention.
?The Warsaw Convention is no longer in tune with the current economic and legal needs. Its system of having a low liability rate had caused injustice to air passengers especially when there is a crash, damage or loss to luggage or cargo caused by delays or mishandling by air carriers.
?For example, the compensation would be given based on the weight of the luggage or missing items and not on the value of those items,? he said when explaining the Bill.
Currently, the Warsaw Convention states that passengers could claim RM48 per kg for mishandled check-in baggage and RM980 for mishandled cabin baggage, he added.
Among the new things introduced by the Montreal Convention was the introduction of reservation facilities via the Internet and electronic systems, abolition of arbitrary liability limits and imposing strict liability for cases involving death or physical injuries.
Under the Warsaw Convention, compensation for death or injury was limited to RM48,000, which was arbitrary but the Montreal Convention states a figure of RM500,000, he said.
Tengku Azlan said low-budget airlines were also subjected to giving out compensation, and passengers need to declare their baggage items before boarding the plane to facilitate compensation claims.
Several MPs including Datuk Razali Ismail (BN-Kuala Terengganu) and Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Tanjong) highlighted the fact that cases of missing baggage were on the rise.
?We have to ensure that baggage don?t go missing especially in KLIA where syndicates are at work as this can affect the country?s image,? said Chow.
|FANCY studying in Saudi Arabia? Well, you may get the chance sooner than you think. |
For decades, Malaysians have gone over to study religion and Islamic sciences at schools and universities in Saudi Arabia. Lately, however, new opportunities have emerged due to the country?s impressive technological and economic growth, as well as expansion in higher education.
A few students will definitely get the opportunity soon to pursue postgraduate studies at Saudi?s oldest and biggest university, King Saud University (KSU), in an area of their choice.
This golden chance is the result of an offer of 22 postgraduate scholarships for masters, PhD and post-doctoral research made to Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed during his visit to KSU last month.
?The university made the offer on the spot. It was a pleasant surprise. The offer demonstrates their confidence in our higher education system, and reflects the commitment of both countries to fostering educational partnerships,? says Mustapa.
KSU, or Riyadh University as it was originally known, was established in 1957 as the first Saudi university not dedicated to religious subjects.
It started with the setting up of the College of Arts, followed by the College of Science the following year. Other colleges followed soon after ? from the College of Engineering and Business to Medicine and Information Technology.
Currently, there are more than 25 colleges covering diverse disciplines including community service, nutrition science, archaeology and tourism.
In the early 1980s, a new campus was built, and KSU opened its doors to female students as the original university buildings in central Riyadh were converted into a campus for the women's branch of the university.
Today, women are only barred from KSU?s engineering programme, on the premise that a profession in engineering would be impossible to pursue in the context of sex-segregation practices.
Since the early 1990s, KSU has started offering postgraduate studies in 61 areas of specialisation, and doctorates in Arabic, geography, and history.
The scholarships offered to Malaysians, covering tuition fees and living expenses, comprise six each for masters and PhD, and 10 for post-doctoral research.
Mustapa says his ministry has been asked to nominate candidates by early this month, and selection has been in process.
The KSU scholarship scheme is expected to see greater exchange of students and academics, as well as research collaboration, between Saudi and Malaysian institutions.
There are currently 19 universities in Saudi, with four new ones set up in 2005 to meet the growing demand for higher education in the country.
The realisation of the need to develop its human resource has also led to the development of more colleges for girls in the country.
On his trip, Mustapa also visited the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and University Um Al Qura in Mekah, where he met with Malaysian students.
In terms of research collaboration, the minister feels that Malaysians need to open their minds to tap into emerging areas in Saudi Arabia such as technology and engineering.
There are opportunities aplenty, he stresses, particularly with the research centres set up by the Saudi Government at public universities, in areas like water studies, Islamic economics, technologies related to the discovery and economic utilisation of natural resources, Hajj and Umra studies (pilgrimage studies) as well as nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Another area is the exchange of expertise such as the one-year exchange stint awarded to International Islamic University Malaysia ICT Faculty dean Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Adam Suhami to teach and undergo practical work at Taibah University in Madinah.
In addition, the Saudi Government has agreed to send its science and mathematics teachers to Malaysia for training in the teaching of the two subjects in English
|CAIRO: The Higher Education Ministry will standardise its procedures to facilitate the sending of students to study medicine in Egypt. |
?Last September, 499 first-year students arrived in Egypt to study medicine at seven universities. This is our first big batch, so there are many logistical issues that need to be ironed out such as minimum entry qualifications, errant agents and housing,? said Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed who was on a week-long working trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Speaking to The Star after a dialogue with about 500 Malaysian students at the Malaysian Hall here on Monday, he said Malaysia has been sending students over to Egypt for religious studies for decades and has just started sponsoring students to take up the highly in demand, critical programme in the Northern African country because of its wide advantages.
?Studying medicine in Egypt is unique because students learn in English and use Arabic in the society so they can improve their proficiency in both. And for some universities like Al-Azhar University, they need to study and memorise the Quran too,? he added.
There are currently more than 640 public and private Malaysian students taking up medicine in the country.
Mustapa also had a special dialogue with 250 Malaysian medical students to get feedback on the problems they face such as their difficulty in the Arabic language and delay in the payment of fees which bar them from sitting for their exams.
To help address the problems, a committee that will be headed by the Malaysian Ambassador to Egypt and student leaders has been set up.
On the issue of errant education agents, Mustapa said he had met with the relevant sponsors in Malaysia and proposed a new system to avoid abuses.
Mustapa also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian Higher Education Minister Dr Amr Ezzat Salma to foster more exchanges in medicine between the two countries.
|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.
|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.
The growing significance of youth tourism has been highlighted by the signing of an historic agreement between UNWTO and WYSE Travel Confederation.
From February 1st 2007, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and WYSE Travel Confederation will work in partnership to promote and develop the multi-billion dollar youth and student travel niche market.
"Youth tourism contributes to the development of young minds and international tolerance. The UNWTO has recognised the economic importance and social value of youth travel. Young travellers of today set travel trends for the future, they travel with a purpose and make a unique contribution to sustainable tourism practices and poverty alleviation" says David Jones, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation. "We look forward to a fruitful partnership with UNWTO and to delivering this message to governments and industry worldwide??.
Throughout 2007 and beyond, the partnership agreement between WYSE Travel Confederation and UNWTO will provide Confederation Members with an unprecedented opportunity to make government leaders and tourism authorities around the world more aware of the importance of youth, student and educational travel.
This will be achieved by:
Compiling research and publishing a ?Youth Travel Compendium of Research? which includes data on the behaviour of youth travellers and the impact of youth travel experiences on attitudes and values, as well as a survey of youth and student tourism policy worldwide. This report will be used to encourage governments to actively support and market youth tourism products and services.
Organising seminars and events for government officials, national tourism authorities, educational specialists and commercial sector leaders to increase awareness of the importance of the youth and student travel niche market.
Promoting responsible travel habits, practices and the sustainable development of tourism.
Mr. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of UNWTO and David Jones, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation signed the Co-operation Agreement on 1st February during the FITUR Travel Fair in Madrid, Spain.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Cooper, Communications Officer, WYSE Travel Confederation T: +31 20 4212800 email@example.com
|Bogus students |
40% OF `FOREIGN STUDENTS' ARE HERE TO WORK, SAYS HOME MINISTRY AND WANTS FAST, TOUGH ACTION
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.
|HEADING off to a new country can be intimidating ? especially if you are braving it on your own. |
Not only do you have to deal with a lot of red tape and procedures, there are also new friends to make and different cultures and lifestyles to adjust to.
As the ?season? for students to fly off to the United Kingdom and the United States to pursue their studies approaches again, there is the usual confusion about what to do and when to do it.
However, a little research and preparation can go a long way towards making the situation more manageable and pleasant.
It also helps to speak to experienced students and advisors to get practical tips on what to expect.
The first, and possibly most important, thing to sort out and get in order will be the official documents. After that comes the student visa.
Students check carefully on the type of documents needed and to take along both the originals as well as photocopies of documents when they apply for visas.
?The UK, for example, can be very strict when it comes to the issue of funding for studies. Students have to show proof that they have sufficient funds for the entire term of study. The FUNDS must have a legitimate source. Failing to explain where the funds come from can have your visa application being turned down.
Students should buy TRAVELLERS CHEQUES and carry only sufficient cash to tide them over for the first few weeks. BANK DRAFTS take time to clear .. unless you take bank drafts from the same bank - the one in Malaysia and the one in UK as the clearing period will be shorter.
Medical check-ups are usually part of the visa application process too. Although it is not compulsory to get a check-up when applying for visas. MSL ADVISE STUDENTS TO GET THEIR MEDICAL DONE AS IT IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD before embarking for your studies abroad.
?The immigration in UK might conduct random medical checks, and if you are not carrying your health report with you, you may need to waste time, taking the tests there.?
Students should also undergo dental and eye examinations here, as these are very expensive abroad.
Students going to the UK carry their bank drafts with them, in case they are asked to produce evidence of their ability to pay the fees. All students should also carry their university admission letters.
Travelling to your Destination
Next comes the matter of actually getting to the university.
Students should scout around for flights that suit their itinerary and destinations. Visit MSL Travel Sdn Bhd offices in Kuala Lumpur & Penang as they have negotiated student fares on quality airlines.
?For example, Malaysia Airlines does not fly to Manchester, so many students fly into London and request for university transportation from there. This can be really expensive. It might be advisable to fly to Amsterdam, Dubai etc. where you can take a flight straight to Manchester."
Students should also make arrangements with their universities for airport pick-ups in advance, and provide them with accurate arrival information.
Settling in ... participate in the Orientation Program
Orientation programmes organised by the university are the best way to familiarise oneself quickly with the ins and outs of student life on campus.
These programmes help international students make friends more quickly and adapt to the new environment.
All students who studied in the US and UK agree that Malaysians need to speak up and be independent, both in and out of class.
?Active participation can contribute up to 20% of your grades, so you really do need to speak up in class.?
?Get over being shy or else, opportunities will pass you by. Americans value your ability to say what you think.?
Cornell University (US) graduate stresses that students also need to work independently.
?You have to take the initiative and be responsible for your own learning because the lecturers will not chase after you for your work. It?s entirely up to you how you study and whether you complete assignments.?
Students should not expect ?tips? from their lecturers but should instead cultivate a professional relationship with open communication.
Be open to new experiences
One good way to assimilate into student life is to participate in lots of campus activities and events.
?Make a point of joining societies that interest you, and remember to socialise outside the Malaysian circle,? says University of Bristol, UK, student. ?Getting a part-time job, especially in your first year, is also a good idea, as you usually have a lot of free time then.?
Learn about all the resources available at your university, advises student studies at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor in the US.
?There are many avenues where you can seek assistance, such as the international students? centre, course advisors, student counsellors, professional bodies and so on. It?s surprising how much help and information is available.?
?Take any subject that interests you. Don?t limit yourself to only your required units.? ?Basically, you should take advantage of all the opportunities available.?
Studying abroad? Here are some more tips...
#Winter clothes from Malaysia are often not suitable for the winters in the US and UK. Just buy one or two here and the rest when you get there (factory outlet stores are a good, budget-friendly option).
#Choose hardy luggage that is easy to transport.
#Clothing and toiletries should be kept to a minimum. Most items can be obtained there. Clothes are especially cheap during sales.
#Students get free medical coverage in the UK only if your course/studies are more than 6 months. This is only at PUBLIC hospitals. If you want immediate attention & care get an Overseas Students Insurance Cover
#A handphone is not strictly necessary, as there are many plans you can sign up for that come with free phones.
#There are many Asian food stores around, so do not bring food unless it is something you cannot live without.
#If purchasing a laptop, ensure it comes with an international warranty.
#Comfortable walking shoes may be helpful as university students typically do a lot of walking. A good umbrella will be useful too.
#Bring copies of important documents and passport-sized photos.
Living on a budget:
# Do not for your ISIC - International Student Identity Card for your student benefits worldwide. The ISIC is available at MSL Travel
#Buy transportation tickets for getting to your university from the airport in advance, online if possible. You might get some good deals. MSL sells the NX2 Card which offers up to 30% discounts for travel on National Express coach services in Britain.
#Buy stationery in Malaysia as it is much cheaper.
#Purchase international editions of your textbooks here if possible, as they are cheaper. You can also buy them second-hand from your seniors.
#Scout around for phonecards that let you make cheap calls home. www.phonecardsforsale.com allows students studying in the US to buy cards cheaply. Your ISIC is also a phone card offering LOW COST phone calls with ISIConnect
#If travelling within the country, look out for deals and packages online.
#Familiarise yourself with the local public transport system. And if you can walk to a destination, do so.
#Look at the university noticeboard for second-hand items (books, electrical appliances) that you can purchase.
Look out for:
#Inadvertent racist or sexist remarks. They are very much frowned upon in the US and UK.
#Credit card trap. It is easy to swipe your card without realising how low your funds are getting.
#Alcohol. The legal drinking age in the US is 21. Also, drinking is a common social activity in both countries, so exercise self-control, and decline if you are not comfortable.
#Dodgy accommodation. If you are living off-campus, do sufficient research before deciding to stay somewhere.
ALWAYS STAY SOME WHERE WHERE YOU ARE SAFE & COMFORTABLE
#Contracts. When signing up for plans or deals (handphone call plans, accommodation, etc) make sure you read the fine print. You don?t want to end up losing money instead of saving.
#Being on time is expected; functions and events do not follow the ?Malaysian time? concept.
Travel tickets from MSL Travel
University admission letter
Bank drafts in your name (especially for UK students) and sufficient cash for at least one week
Medical report (especially for UK students)
An extra set of clothing in your hand luggage
Contact information for your university (not in your check-in luggage)
Visit the MSL Travel Website:
MSL Travel offers great student fares for students travelling for education. MSL student fares come with additional baggage allowance.
|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.
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 www.msltravel.com
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:
MSL Offers Student Fares ... check it at the MSL website.