In the 2015 summer semester, I completed a semester abroad in Malaysia. For this I chose the Swinburne University of Technology in Kuching. My time in Malaysia was fantastic and I can only recommend a semester abroad in Kuching to everyone.
I started looking into the subject about 1 year ago. The biggest hurdle for me was to find a suitable university that roughly coincides with the semester period in Germany. The choice is limited, especially in the summer semester, as most universities in Asia already start the semester in January. All organizational matters such as application, visa and course selection were handled by the MicroEDU agency. I had a personal contact person who was always available for problems and questions. I was very satisfied with the organization and support from the agency.
Swinburne University of Technology is an Australian university with a branch in Malaysia. For this reason, all courses at the university are offered in English. During my stay abroad, I have both bachelor’s degrees in computer science and business. The courses are relatively time-consuming during the semester as there are lots of receipts, group work and presentations. Courses from the final year are particularly time-consuming. However, the workload for the exams is less. Overall, the technical subjects were more demanding compared to the business and management courses. The university also offers a large number of leisure activities and clubs, which mostly take place on Saturdays. In general, the organization and support of the students on the part of the university is very good.All facilities, such as computer cabinets, seminar rooms and the library, were open around the clock or until late at night. I would recommend everyone to attend Orientation Week as it is the best opportunity to get to know other students. The university has a very international focus. Most of the international students come from countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Oman, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Germany.
The city of Kuching, with around 300,000 inhabitants, is a very small and cozy city by Asian standards. The city is divided in the middle by the Sarawak River in north and south. Most of the Chinese people live in the southern part of Kuching and this is also where the university, the airport and most of the restaurants are located. Public transport is not recommended in the city or is not available at all. During my time, I borrowed a scooter from my landlord for less than € 3 a day. The traffic in the city was, contrary to all expectations, very pleasant. You should only drive very carefully in very heavy rain. There are many excursion destinations around the city like the Bako National Park, Damai Beach, Culture Village or the Semenggoh Wildlife Center. These can all be reached by scooter within an hour. For me personally, the city was an absolute food haven. Thanks to the low prices and the good food, I ate in the restaurant every morning, noon and evening. The prices for a meal with drink are on average around € 2. In addition to the Malay and Chinese cuisine, you can also find many international restaurants such as those from India, Japan or Thailand. The good food here will surely be one of the things that I will miss most here and that has little to do with German “Asian” food.
Leisure and travel
In my free time, which, as I have already mentioned, I mostly spent eating, I also went on many excursions with other students at the university. I mostly used my free days and weekends to explore the surroundings and the rainforest of Sarawak. In addition, there are some short trips by plane during the semester, as these are very cheap. After the semester, I had 7 weeks to travel. During this time I looked at 5 different countries in Southeast Asia and got my diving license. I can only recommend this to everyone in Southeast Asia, as it is very cheap here and the underwater world looks simply breathtaking. See more student reviews of universities in Asia on act-test-centers.
The cost of living in Kuching is very cheap. I lived in the same house with other exchange students for which I paid around € 150 a month. In addition, food, scooter rental, gasoline and traveling were much cheaper compared to Germany. The biggest cost is certainly the tuition fee, which is 100% covered by the BAföG abroad. Flights within Southeast Asia are very cheap with airlines such as Air Asia and Malindo. I usually never paid more than € 50 per flight. The accommodations during my trip were usually no more expensive than € 10 to € 20 a night for a double room.
During my semester abroad I made many new friends and got to know the Malay culture. It was a wonderful time for me that I will keep in good memory forever. I think that the city of Kuching with its size and flair is an ideal place for an exchange semester. The people in town all speak English very well and are very open to you. I felt very comfortable here from day one and was able to gain an incredible number of new experiences in my time. In all of my time I have never had bad experiences and I can wholeheartedly recommend a semester abroad at Swinburne University of Technology. You will certainly not regret it.