As my semester abroad got closer and closer and I rummaged through a mountain of information about which university was the best decision for me, I finally decided to go to Malaysia as a freemover with MicroEDU. It was the best decision I could make, because from then on everything was more organized, I had a contact person who was always there for me and answered all my thousands of questions and emails and who guided me through the application process.
First I looked at all universities and read testimonials in order to find the right university for me. Why did I choose Swinburne University in Kuching ? Very easily; the Swinburne University in Melbourne did not quite fit into my budget and Australia was me then too mainstream. The perfect solution for this was the campus in Malaysia, Sarawak. So I was able to combine Australian training standards with Asian culture that didn’t even blow my wallet.
After I decided on Malaysia, it was time to apply ; Sabine sent me all the application forms that I needed, and I also had to hand in my transcript and my DAAD test. That was really easy thanks to the application instructions that you received with me. If I still had questions, Sabine always had an open ear and an answer ready. See more student reviews of universities in Asia on iamaccepted.
The university took a long time to approve, which made me a bit nervous, but when I finally received it, all I had to do was transfer the tuition fees and book my flight. The flights are of course not as cheap as to Spain or Italy, but you can find affordable flights on the internet. I booked a multi-stop flight, from Frankfurt to Kuching and from Bangkok back to Frankfurt, because I knew that I would still like to travel in the end. However, there are also cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur and from there with a separate flight from AirAsia to Kuching.
Does the whole thing sound expensive anyway? It is of course not cheap, but I recommend everyone to apply for BAföG abroad. The Studierendenwerk Tübingen-Hohenheim is responsible for Asia (Malaysia). It is best to submit an application to the BAföG office at the same time when you have decided on the Swinburne, because the processing time can take up to 6 months and communication with the responsible persons can sometimes be more difficult. It’s a lot of paperwork, but don’t be afraid to do it, it can be worth it.
To the University
As I said before, Swinburne University is an Australian campus on the East Island of Malaysia in Kuching. I am studying business administration and have therefore also taken business courses. Before it started, however, I first had to register on site and there was an orientation and get-to-know week with all new Bachelor students. Regardless of whether you are an exchange student, national or international student. Through joint games, sports and a trip to the Cultur Village, you could make contacts and make new friends.
In the first week you also choose your courses and create your schedule. This can be a bit more complicated as courses overlap, are not offered or are simply full even though you have specified the course on your application. But in the end everyone had courses they were happy with.
We exchange students had special contacts whom we could come to with all our questions. Nice and helpful is very important at the university anyway, so I never had any unanswered questions or problems.
Studying in Malaysia is a little different from studying in Germany, at least it was like that for me. There is a tutorial for each course and attendance is mandatory for these in particular. The lectures are similar to those in Germany, PowerPoint presentations and frontal teaching. The level differs from professor to professor, you have to be a bit lucky to have committed professors who teach you the subject matter well, but I think it’s similar to Germany. In the tutorials, we then had to prove the knowledge we had learned on the basis of calculations or group work. At Swinburne University there is not only a final exam, but you write assignments, give presentations with the group and write reports and tests. The grades are all included in the final grade. This means,
The cafeteria is the meeting point for all students. No matter what time you go out to eat, there is always someone you know. You can also choose between so many dishes that you can always try something new. A little tip: the smoothies and naan bread at the Indian are amazing.
The university also has many activities and clubs that you can join. From dancing to drama club to rowing and comic club everything is there. So just stop by the info day and get inspired.
I arrived in Kuching a week before the start of the semester and initially lived in a hostel. Although I reserved a room with Joseph in advance, I wanted to keep the possibility open of finding something else. I also have to say that I have seen and experienced so much this week. I was able to explore Kuching and get an overview that I would otherwise not have gotten. I also got to know so many nice people in the hostel, got insider tips and also met locals.
In the end, however, you only have 2 good options for a place to stay. One is an apartment, which is shared by three, in the Riverine Apartments. The apartments have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a living and dining area. The pool and gym are a plus. In my experience, the Danes and sometimes Australians live there. The Germans, on the other hand, opted for the second option at least during my stay; a room in one of Joseph Chuo’s houses. Joseph owns 3 houses in close proximity to each other and usually 4-5 people live there. Everyone has their own room, but the bathroom and kitchen are shared, so it’s a typical flat share. You also have the option of renting a scooter, which you definitely need in Kuching. You can forget about public transport and you don’t always want to pay for a taxi. Well, the scooter is the best way to get from A to B, and it takes about 7 minutes to get to the university. It’s not luxurious, but it’s okay for 3-4 months and I especially liked being me It took me 1 min. To the next house and I could just chill out with the others or have a beer there. The neighbors were nice too and nobody complained when we threw a party =) In addition, Joseph is a really nice landlord. During our stay it was Chinese New Year and he invited all of his tenants to his house and his wife Erica cooked for us.
Leisure and night life
Kuching is not a metropolis, but despite all that it has a lot to offer. There are 2 large malls that can be easily reached by scooter within a few minutes. They have a very western touch, i.e., in addition to H&M, Sephora and Starbucks, there are also Apple, The Body Shop and Burger King. But you can also find many small malls and a visit might be worthwhile. Here, too, a little tip: You probably expect to be able to shop cheaply in Asia, but that’s not necessarily the case. Cosmetic items such as shampoo or sunscreen are not that cheap, so it’s best to bring something from home.
The waterfront invites you to relax, here you can sit in the sun or have dinner in the evening. Speaking of eating; In Kuching we never cooked ourselves, but always went out to eat in the evening. It’s super cheap (of course there are also more expensive restaurants which are still cheaper compared to Germany), but I recommend food courts or small restaurants. The specialty of Sarawak Laksa is and KoloMee, definitely try. If you like fish and fresh seafood, the TopSpot is the place for you.
You can also go on day trips by scooter. Destinations in the vicinity are, for example, the Fairycaves, Bako National Park, Cuba National Park or the famous orangutan rehabilitation center. Those who like to hike will definitely find Sarawak a good one, but the beach is not far away either.
In Kuching itself you will find small bars to go out. We often go to the Monkee Bar on Fridays and then to the Mozo, but there are of course several options. In the Monkee Bar the beer is cheap and therefore a good start to the evening, especially here you can see many familiar faces and meet new people. Next to the Mozo there is a bar next to a bar, so nothing stands in the way of bar hopping. The bars aren’t made for dancing, but where there’s a will there’s a way =)
However, I recommend that you do not walk home alone after the party, it is safer in a group or take a taxi. In general (including during the day) you should take care of your bags, especially the girls.
During the semester it is a good idea to go on weekend trips, for example to Kota Kinabalu or Penang. AirAsia offers cheap flights, mostly between 25-50 euros. During the semester break, which was about 10 days, I flew to Bali, but be careful: semester break does not apply to engineers, sorry. But even after the semester, you should still take some time to travel a little. Here, too, you can travel cheaply with AirAsia and Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, etc. are not far away;)