IMU-Otago Credit Transfer: Dentistry


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The Partner Dental School Course is implemented jointly by the IMU, Malaysia, in collaboration with partner universities, with the students spending the first phase (5 semesters, 2.5 years) in Malaysia and the later years in the partner universities. The students will receive the degree from the respective Partner University after graduation.  University of Otago is one of the Partner Universities for Dentistry. You can find more info in

I recommend those who are interested in the PDS programme to apply fairly early, as there are very limited spaces each year. I applied online in March/April the year before intake starts. An interview will be carried out around November.  The interview was pretty informal. The interviewer will provide a situation and you need to solve it. The question I got was if someone was having a heart attack on the plane, which place will you fly to (A,B or C)? My answer was I couldn’t choose as I have no idea which place is the plane closest to. The questions they asked are usually easy, as long as the answers are not too far off logically and are ethical you will be fine.

There are many things to adapt to in the first year. Lectures are like learning a whole new language as there are many new terminologies, especially anatomy. Some lecturers may have a strong accent. Dental students will be having the same lectures as medical students in 1st and 2nd years, in addition to dentistry lectures. Clinical and simulation sessions are extremely important as it builds a strong foundation in the future. It may seem overwhelming at first but just remember your classmates are in the same boat as you.

In the 5th semester (3rd year) those who are in the PDS track are required to list PDS in order of preference. You will be required to write about yourself and why you chose the specific partner school (something like personal statement). A computerized system will then assign each student to the PDS. Partner schools have the right to decline acceptance if you do not reach the minimum IELTS requirement so do not take it lightly. If you (touch wood) failed to secure a place you may opt for the local BDS track (5 years in IMU).

As University of Otago intake starts middle of the year, I only had limited time to apply for student visa. I applied through visa agency (Selset) but that is optional. You need to have chest Xray, medical report, translated ICs and photocopies of important documents stamped by public notary. Some of these processes take time so visa application process need to start as soon as PDS result is out. There will be a refreshers course for dental students in Otago to familiarize you to the clinic and the Otago way of doing things. There is considerably more clinical exposure in Otago compared to Malaysia as you are exposed to more patients in the clinical years. Patients in Otago are also more medically and dentally complicated than Malaysia.

Otago lecturers and staff are very friendly and encouraging. Don’t be afraid, they are not there to reprimand you, they are there to guide you through. There is a very strong student support group there. There is an Otago Malaysian Student Association (OMSA) ready to give support for all new students coming to Otago. I felt like home whenever I join OMSA activities. Plus great discounts everywhere as an OMSA member. More info about OMSA can be found here: There is a lot of Asian restaurants in Dunedin so don’t be worried about not finding Asian food. Dunedin is a small student city that is generally cold, so I would recommend people to invest in a good warm jacket.

All in all, just enjoy your student life as much as possible and as long as you study regularly and attend all the classes, you should be fine. All the best!

Ong Jinn is currently a Dentistry student at the University of Otago.

Life@BAC – Law


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While locals all over the world put their local universities as one of their choices, it is sad and disheartening to see that not many Malaysians practice this option.

While most have dreams and ambitions of what they want to be, I on the other hand was still deliberating all the choices. In such a circumstance, I figured that taking the A Levels would be the best option for me after talking to several counselors as it keeps my career path as wide as possible.

Though I completed my A Levels in the Subang campus of Taylor’s College, I did not further my tertiary studies in Law in Taylor’s University as it was just introduced and I would be the first batch for it making me very hesitant. Hence after much surveys and scouting around the Law schools, I decided to be a part of the famous Brickfields Asia College (BAC), “The Fastest & Smartest way to over 50 UK Law & Business Degrees”.

Well, my university sure provides the fastest way to most of its courses. In the United Kingdom, the A Levels course would take a whole 2 years to complete. In most typical Malaysian college, that course would take a duration of 1.5 years to complete. But BAC knows how much Malaysians like to have everything from speed to results so they came up with a shorter duration of time allowing students to complete it in just 1 year!! The awesomeness did not end there you know how we all like to request freebies whenever we purchase an item, BAC gives out freebies without even a request!! When I enrolled for my UK Transfer Law Programme, I was given a free course for a programme called Achiever’s Programme and also a set of free books to start my year with. On top of those academic programmes, we also get a free membership for the gym, Monster Fit.

To enrol into BAC, one can pay a visit to the Petaling Jaya Campus which is in VSQ Square just beside the Luther Centre and register yourself for the next intake. BAC offers three intakes: the normal September intake; the express January intake who will graduate the same time as the September intake; and the April intake. There is two types of programme that you can choose to undergo, the University of London Programme which would not require you to twin to other UK universities or the UK Transfer Programme where you can choose to the 2+1 which means that you twin for one year or the 1+2 where you twin for two years with any of our partner universities.

As I underwent the 2+1 UK Transfer Law Programme, I took the 4 compulsory subjects of common law, public law, criminal law and contract law. However, in Year 2 we were given a slight freedom in choosing one of our electives which are the company law or family law with 3 compulsory subjects along with it: tort law, land law and evidence law. In Year 3, those in 2+1 programme would have to prepare themselves to bid their friends goodbye as most would go to different universities of their preferences. Though we are allowed to choose 4 electives of our own choices, twinning students would have to take a compulsory subject of EU Law with 3 other electives of their own choices for those who are firm in doing the Certificate in Legal Practice Malaysia examination (CLP). As for those who are considering to do the Bar examination in UK, it is advisable to take up both EU Law and Jurisprudence as some Bar schools requires both though there are some who would accept students without knowledge of the Jurisprudence. Two of our partner universities: Cardiff University and University of Northumbria, offer the Bar examination. As for those considering the CLP examination, BAC do provide it too with additional privileges for their own students.

Besides studying, BAC provides many opportunities for students to explore their talents. There are classes such as Zumba, Martial Arts, Free Trial music classes and many more. A recent talent exploration I had a privilege in participating was to be part of the press team for BACMUN (Brickfields Asia College Model United Nations) whereby I could explore various writing expressions under guidance from those with experience.

Though Law course is one which is demanding in terms of understanding and memory, it is important to enjoy your university life before stepping out of our comfort zones and start working. Aside from that, one should give importance to self developments to further appeal your future employers and equip oneself with self-esteem, confidence and interesting personality.

Jasmine Tan is currently reading law at Brickfields Asia College (BAC) under the 2+1 UK Transfer Law Program.

Life@John Hopkins: Meta-study abroad


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A long-haul transatlantic flight brought me to this country in the far west, which many people are seemingly familiar with, due to the enormous cultural influence it has cast upon the world. The same insecurity and excitement surged within me once again, even though I was much more capable of containing these emotions now that I have spent two years reading biological sciences at UCL. I have since settled down in a flat that is just 5-minute walking distance from the gorgeous Homewood Campus at Johns Hopkins University. I am really grateful for having this opportunity to go to the US while studying abroad in the UK (hence, the title) and would like to share my experiences and also my perspectives on the differences between these two most sought-after study abroad destinations.

Academics. It is undeniable that a UK degree is more specialized than its American counterpart. In the UK, you have very limited flexibility when it comes to course choices. For instance, in my second year, out of 4 credits I have to accomplish, at least 3 have to be biology-related and it is rather rare for you take elective modules offered in another school/department, due to various reasons (mainly administrative and pre-requisite requirements), unless it is a language module. On the other hand, in the US, many students are allowed to juggle Virginia Woolf, the nodes of Ranvier and epidemiology in the same semester. Even though you still have certain requirements that you need to meet for your major, you have much more freedom compared to UK students. In this semester, I am taking neuroscience courses, which are completely foreign to me, as my specialization back home is molecular and cell biology. I am planning to do a course on natural catastrophes next term, since I finally got the chance to quench my thirst for studying geology. I simply cannot end this paragraph without comparing the grading systems. In the UK, grades are categorized into classes: first class, upper second class (2:1), lower second class (2:2) and third class. The grades are absolute. If you get higher than 70 (which is hard, trust me), you are considered first class, regardless of how your peers perform. In the US, you are assigned a letter grade for each course you take, and that letter grade corresponds to a GPA score. At the end of the term, you will get a weighted average of your GPA score (depending on the credit weight of the courses). How is the letter grade assigned? It depends on the course, many courses use normalized curve, which means that if you obtain a mark that is around 90% of the highest score below the 4th percentile, you will be assigned an A grade (and of course those top 4% will get an A+). Some courses may apply different strategies, for example, you probably need to get a score that is one standard deviation above the average grade to be in the A range or just to be top 10% of the class to achieve it. This is very dissimilar to the UK system, as you will face situations when you do not ‘reap what you sow’ and experience tension and competitions amongst your peers at all times. The advantages are that you are going to be more diligent and fastidious, as you will be very concerned about the scores of each report and midterms (I don’t even know what it was before coming here), and know how to manage your time so that you can learn happily and get a good grade. The UK education requires a huge amount of self-discipline and rigorous independent study, as in many cases; only one final exam (for each module) that counts heavily towards the final mark is given in the end of each academic year. This does not mean that it is easier. The exams in the US comprise mostly short-answered, analytical, problem-solving questions – you are normally given a set of data which you have to interpret and analyse logically and apply it – while in the UK exams are essay-based, in which you have to write pages and pages explaining how we can target EGF receptor signaling to stop tumour growth (as an example). The former demands clear thinking and complete understanding of learning material while the latter requires the ability to present your understanding and critical thinking about a topic in the most succinct and lucid form and also loads of memorization. So, which is more suitable for you? If you are determined on what you want to do in the future, the UK system may suit you best, as the specialized education equips you with the specific skills and advanced knowledge that are indispensable for your chosen path. Students who have not yet decided on their future career path should take advantage of the holistic, well-rounded undergraduate education of US universities, as you can always change your concentration in first or second year and balance your personal interests with academic preferences.

Social life. Owing to my ALDH2 (the enzyme that should digest the by-product of alcohol degradation) mutation, I am not allowed and not in the position to comment on the clubbing (seriously not my style) or drinking social life in both countries. However, I do participate in societies and hang out with friends who share common interests. Homesickness is an illness that every international student is highly susceptible to. To me, meeting fellow Malaysians and eating Malaysian food are the most effective remedies for this malady. As US is further away from Malaysia than the UK and is blessed with more decent universities (therefore, sparser distribution), you will most likely find fewer than 10 Malaysians in one university (we have 6 at JHU, including me!). On the other hand, Malaysians constitute a huge part of the international student communities in many UK universities. The opportunity to organize glamorous events that can unite all Malaysians across the country is surely deprived in US universities, as most do not even have an association for Malaysians, let alone organizing events. On the flip side, you are relieved of the burden of being obliged to cling to people from your home country (that is if you do not like it) and get to interact more with local students. A major part of my social life in the UK is eating out with my Malaysian friends or holding potluck sessions at someone’s apartment. In the US, I mostly hang out with some other exchange students and also people from the society I joined. So far, I felt that US universities are not as diverse in terms of student body in comparison to UK universities (mostly due to the lack of Europeans). Most of my course-mates are Americans (of different ethnicities, though). This may be slightly biased as I am studying biology, a subject that attracts fewer international students.

Travelling. I have to write a separate paragraph regarding this important activity. I reckon everyone is aware that UK is located slightly above Continental Europe, the dreamland of all travellers. The flights to all European countries are affordable and the travelling time is bearable to almost everybody. I am blessed to have so far been to many gorgeous towns and cities in the continent and am still looking forward to visiting many of them next year. In the US, this is not the case. Flight tickets are relatively expensive and it takes hours to travel one from location to another. Planning requires much more time and research that I expected, as many cities do not have convenient public transport service which you can seriously take advantage of when you are travelling in European cities. Again, this does not mean that the cities are not as worthwhile to visit. I have been to Boston and Washington D.C. (which are near to where I am studying at) and they are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Having said that, I have planned several trips to New York, Orlando and Miami in the coming holidays. Another point worth to mention is that, in fact, US universities have less vacation compared to UK universities. This has been troubling me as I have been in torpor for a long time after all the torment of late night revisions and weekly exams.

These are the points that I would like to cover this time and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. I focused extensively on the academic part, as that was the main reason why I chose to come to the US, which is to experience the reputable education system in this country. If you are still struggling to choose between these two, do consider the universities that offer a study abroad option in addition to the course that you are fond of. Moreover, I would recommend you all plan earlier for the application, which normally falls in late first term of the second year This means that you will have to use your first year results to apply. Therefore, doing fairly well academically in the first year is crucial to secure a place in the programme, as it can be quite competitive (especially for US universities). The application process can be frustrating sometimes, as you will need to write a motivation letter and also to find a referee who can tell good things about you, but I promise the experience is going to be awesome.


Victor Pong is a third year MSci Biological Sciences student at University College London (UCL) under the MyBrainSc Scholarship. He fancies playing Pokemon games, dining in posh restaurants and taking strolls in the tranquil city parks. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at

Life@Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

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I’m currently in my third year studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The application process is quite straightforward compared to UCAS. There is an application form where you have to rank the universities. Your application will be send to your first choice and if you’re rejected, you’ll then move on to your second choice and so on. You will have to send in a simple CV as well. If you’re successful, you’ll be invited for an interview around April. The interview was fairly laid back and you’ll get the usual questions with faculty member from the Irish universities. Following the outcome of your interview, you’ll either get an offer letter or be placed on the waiting list.

After accepting an unconditional offer from TCD, the next issue was accommodation. TCD has an off-campus student hall, known as Trinity hall. On-campus accommodations are generally for students with disabilities and scholars (I’ll briefly touch on the subject of scholarship later). Trinity hall basically has 2 types of accommodation, Cunningham house and the modern apartments. Cunningham house is shared while you’ll get en suite rooms in the modern rooms. There are also some twin rooms in the modern apartments.

In terms of academics, TCD is similar to the system we’re used to. There will be lots of memorising and exams. But then which medical curriculum does not? To help relieving the stress from studying, TCD has many clubs and societies, ranging from sports and arts to food and drinks. There is also an on-campus gym.

Socially, the Irish are the best people I’ve ever meet. Most of them are so friendly, they go out of their way to help you. But they do love their alcohol such that TCD has its own on-campus bar, called The Pav. The city of Dublin is compact and there are many affordable restaurants as well as Michelin-starred ones. The shopping scene is little less developed compared to other major European cities, like London or Paris. But it is sufficient enough to get everything you need and for the occasional splurge. Dublin also has many gardens within the city limits. There is a certain tranquility mixed in the bustling city and also a bit of ancientness mixed into the contemporary.

Dublin celebrates much of the same holidays as other western countries. But one particular holiday that stands out is St. Patrick’s Day, which happens on the 17th of March every year. It is a national holiday for the Irish. On that day, the main streets in the city close and parade marches throughout the city. It is a tradition for people to wear green and paint their face in the Irish colours on that day. After the parade, the crowd disperse and gather in the many pubs of the city.

In terms of weather, the stereotypical expectation is actually true for once. There isn’t much sun, especially during winter. It also rains a lot here but it isn’t like the kind of downpour that we get in Malaysia but more of an annoying, depressing kind of drizzle that comes and goes every 5 minutes. Most of the time, the rain will be accompanied by strong wind especially around November-December and I’ve never seen any umbrellas that can withstand that kind of force. Therefore, I would recommend wearing a waterproof or at least, a showerproof coat.

I wish everyone all the best in their application. Hope to see you in Dublin soon!



Wennweoi is an aspiring surgeon who is in her third medical year at Trinity College Dublin. She enjoys studying about anything medical but detests the exams. Also, pastries make her very happy.

Life@UMP – Software Engineering


“What university is that?” “Where is it located?” “Never heard of it lahh.” These are just some examples of statements/enquiries I, a future Software Engineer, received when proudly proclaiming I’m from Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP). Yes, you now might have a mysterious voice in your head saying the exact same thing. Well mates, the non-glamorous UMP is situated on the side of Tun Razak Highway, Gambang, Pahang in Malaysia. Basically, it’s in a random Malaysian rainforest. Animal sightings are a norm, usually just wild boars and dogs, and occasionally more exotic ones such as snakes, lizards, monkeys and once a Kongkang  (Slow loris).

Like all public universities, application is done through the UPU system. Here is a simple guideline for those that chose the A-level-ish path:

  •   Input personal details
  •   Input pre-u details and results
  •   Input course/university choices
  •   Hope and pray

Like many other poor souls out there, my prayers weren’t answered. The dreams of threading into the hallowed grounds of Universiti Malaya etc now in shambles. Nevertheless, dreams can be rebuilt, restructured, reconstructed and reprogramed. Fantasies aside, I come from the widely praised Malaysian Matriculation Program, at least that is what they claimed. For me, that one year at another random Malaysian jungle was absolute torture, classes non-stop from 8am to 5pm, lab reports every day (Science stream), quizzes every hour, study every minute. Well it does give the advantage of 1 year compared to Form Six.

A year and a half (3 semesters) has passed since I opened the door to my hostel room. Compared to my tenure at Matriculation, life at UMP was easy, I only have 16 credit hours average per semester in my 3.5 year bachelor’s degree course. I do not face the daunting stress of medicine courses, nor do the memory crunching Law degrees, and neither do my fellow university mates. Yes, my university is filled with future engineers ready to innovate the future or a varsity filled with lazy people looking for ways to get things done easy, depends on which way you see it. Judgements aside, we all live mostly in harmony no matter our ethnicity or background brought together by our mutual hatred of our Student Council members and Students Welfare Department.


Moving on, as students, we normally would be busy rushing deadlines and completing assignments. Typical, but then again as a Malaysian, we like to compare things. Don’t tell me you never compared our durians against foreign species of durians. Yes, but here is a norm to compare our busy schedule. Who is free? Who is busy? What course is that fella from? Ubiquitous questions thrown around to investigate each other’s cramp schedule, with many agreeing that Engineering Management students could practically sleep through the weekend without worrying about Monday, a luxury to the others.

Talking about schedules, what would fill up a Software Engineer’s schedule? Most people would probably guessed we are a group of geeks with thick lenses staring at a desktop typing the enigma code out. Nope, half of my syllabus is actually project planning and management. I was surprised to find out that I’ll be learning ways to plan a software project and requirement elicitation in my first semester. Of course we still learn those weird codes and computer languages. But as I learn, I realize Software projects are not like typical engineering projects, and require different set of procedures to run due to the more unpredictable and competitive world of cyber business. So don’t go around imagining us as some fat, ill managed slob slurping down Pepsi while burping out lines of incomprehensible codes. We are more capable than you are, jokingly of course mate.



Unfortunately for us, even with our busy schedule, we’re expected to make time for co-curricular activities. Sounds normal? Here’s the catch, points will be gathered based on our involvement in the activities. Points gathered will be used during application for next year’s hostel arrangements, and there is a minimum threshold you need to pass o be eligible. My first year’s point threshold was a record high, 3900 points, as compared to the previous year, 2100 points. To make this look daunting, an international level involvement only yields 200 points. Oh and Malaysians’ love for comparing does not spare this either, competing to see who has the most points.


Well, this is what I got myself into – an average kid suddenly thrown into a whirlpool of expectations and social competition. Then again, it was no less what I expected, these norms were already taking root during Matriculation. Competitiveness between students are high within public institutions knowing only the best are acknowledged here. I myself expected a tough journey ahead before putting on the tie for the orientation. You might say, “mate, your university’s rank is over 2000!?” I tell you, education anywhere is equal, it’s the experience and things you learn that are not from your lecturer’s that’s worth it all. I came here with expectations for myself that I wish to be met, UMP is just a training arena.


So far, life has been kind enough, bumps along the way but nothing too rough yet. Socially I’m doing well, my trilingual (as a Malay) ability distinguished me well among the students here. Education wise, I’m just average, nothing too fancy. I’m here to mature and experience, a Degree certification is just a paper if you can’t even talk to the stall cashier, let alone some company’s CEO. My advice to future university students, look to improve more as a person, it’s more important than getting that Upper case printed “A”. Also, try not to forget to have some fun, this might be your last time where you can do so at full capacity. Those who are prospecting their future with UMP, well don’t put your hopes too high, it might disappoint you a little, it’s a public university after all. Then again UMP might be better off than a few other public universities since it’s fairly new, hence better facilities. Its close proximity with Kuantan (30 minutes’ drive) does not really isolate it from civilization too.

For enquiries you can contact me through my Facebook (Mhd Qym) or through Twitter (@MuhdQaiyyim). Just drop me a message or anything, I’ll try to reply as soon as time allows me too. So I’ll sign off by saying, good luck and may the force be with you.


Muhammad Qaiyyim is currently striving for his Bachelor (Hons) in Computer Science Majoring in Software Engineering at Universiti Malaysia Pahang. A true geek powerful with force. Frequently spotted at the basketball court or anywhere that resembles a dojo, with a laptop closeby.


Life at Monash-Parkville as a Pharmacy Student

My name is Leong Kum Chuan and I am studying the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) in Monash University, Melbourne Parkville campus. It was a dream come true to be given an opportunity to study in the best pharmacy school in Australia, Monash University – Victorian College of Pharmacy.


Monash focuses mainly on research hence research assignments and lab reports are essential. The curriculum of the school of pharmacy provides me great exposure allowing me to gain a vast knowledge in the field of pharmacy. Monash provides us with the latest technology in learning such as MyDispense: a pharmaceutical leading technology allowing us to virtually dispense through a computer. Besides that, Monash University helps us to overcome stage fright and improve our communication skills through the programme through our presentations each semester. Every semester, pharmacy students are expected to present topics covered in our lectures for 15 minutes providing us bountiful of opportunities to research and explore our interests. One of my previous topics was on gastroesophageal reflux disease. To counsel patients, communication skills and confidence is essential. Besides that, having a high proficiency in English is important for a pharmacist and proficiency in other languages too provides a leverage.


Monash University has 3 campuses in Victoria (Clayton, Parkville and Peninsula). Monash Parkville is also known as the Victorian College of Pharmacy, which is the pharmaceutical campus for Monash University. The Parkville campus is located in close proximity with the University of Melbourne. As compared to other campuses, the campus is relatively small and accommodates lesser club and societies. Therefore my friends and I joined Malaysian of Melbourne University (MoMU) and we met a lot of friends there!

For me, the highlight of the campus is the library as we can have group discussion. The library is split into a quiet zone as well as the discussion zone provided for the convenience of the students to suit the purpose of the student in using the library.


The syllabus of pharmacy involves a lot of scientific knowledge requiring a deep understanding and memorizing which proves to be quite a challenging course. In my opinion, we are on par with a doctor as we have to be competent in communication as well as a mastery in our knowledge.

Whilst a pharmacist is a mastery in the uses, interactions and its safety uses in regards to drugs and medicines, a general practitioner is good at diagnosing and providing treatment.  Besides gaining knowledge from lectures and researches we do for our presentations, we are also have to analyse a substantive amount of case studies, workshops and group tutorials. In case studies, we are given a scenario to brainstorm with our groupmates to solve it. Case studies requires one to think out of the box and encourage a good relationship and foster teamwork with your peers to solve the problem. On the other hand, workshops are held to expose us and give us a better understanding in regards to our lectured topics. It also teaches us the procedures of the experiments with the use of a computer and molecular modelling kit.


Each year, Monash accepts 150 pharmacy students from Australia and different countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. To put it in a nutshell, personally I think studying pharmacy in Monash University, Melbourne is great! It allow me to pursue my dream. I believe I will become a successful pharmacist in no time!

Leong Kum Chuan

Kum Chuan is currently studying the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) at Monash University Parkville campus. He is an outgoing person, with a true Melburnian spirit. Food hunting around Melbourne is what he does when he is not busy with his studies.

Life at Monash University as a First Year Medical Student


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Before writing this article, I checked my student e-mail for the thousandth time (my paranoid self does not think this is an exaggeration) for an e-mail about supplementary exams. Unless I’m hopelessly blind, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t receive any, which allows me to introduce myself correctly – Hi! I have just completed my first year of MBBS in Monash University, Australia.

I did my A-level at Taylor’s College, Subang Jaya so if you’re reading this and grumbling about A-Level, trust me, you’re not alone and yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. During the university application period, I applied for Pharmacy and Medicine in universities in Malaysia, UK and Australia. I was fine with studying anywhere as long as I had a university to go to. However, I did hope to get into an Australian university or International Medical University (IMU) because I wanted to start studying in early February. To cut the long story short, I never thought I could do it but thankfully, Monash saw a potential doctor in me.

I remember being so fascinated by the cultural diversity in Australia when I first arrived. I’ve met Russians, Greek, Europeans, Canadians, Hong Kongers, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Singaporeans and of course, Malaysians. I find the curriculum in Monash appealing because it’s a 5-year undergraduate programme. Some universities only offer post-graduate or 6-year programmes. We also get site visits to clinics and hospitals pretty early on, which is good to remind you that you’re treating real patients and not just textbook diseases. There’s also dissection of real cadavers in the second semester when we start Anatomy and that’s one of the advantages of studying overseas – you don’t get that in Malaysian medical schools.

I did experience a difference in the academic culture as studying in university is centred around self-learning rather than the spoonfeeding we’ve been used to. The lecture slides are never enough and I always find myself worrying about the depth I need to cover. So this is where VESPAs come in and it’s one of the huge reasons that I love studying in Monash University. I have never known what VESPA stood for (expect an update if I do find out) but it’s basically a study group where seniors from a year above guide juniors a year below them. Juniors get their questions answered and seniors present revision PowerPoint slides with the main takeaways from lecture slides that sometimes tell way too much or too little.

I’m just going to take this paragraph to shameless gush about MAMSA (Malaysian Medical Student Association). MAMSA, to me, is the reason why studying Medicine in a foreign land isn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. We’re made up of medical students from Monash and Melbourne University. We have our own VESPAs every week and two to three revision lectures per semester. We also have many social events! It’s different when you meet people who speak Manglish abroad; they became my safety net.

Truth be told, I’ve still got a lot of Melbourne left to explore as the workload is never-ending and the city is a 40-minute train ride away. However, for the little that I’ve seen, Melbourne is a lovely place. Thanks to its cultural diversity, the food in Melbourne is A++. Heads up for the massive meal portions which can feed two and free food everywhere! There are also various festivals going on all the time. I honestly think that Australia houses some of the friendliest people on the planet – any random person you meet on the street would go out of their way to direct you to your destination or give you suggestions about the events there are to enjoy. Strangely enough, I feel both abroad and at home in Melbourne. There’s just that perfect balance – or maybe it’s because there are just way too many Asians.

Come find me if you do come to Melbourne! I always seem over-excited at first but I really just love meeting new people. I’ll definitely try my best to answer your queries if you ever need help. Random note: be prepared to learn to cook if you’re looking to save $$!

Good luck! Or as the Aussies say – Chookas!

The writer, who chose to be anonymous, is now a second year Medical student at Monash University, Australia.

Michaelmas Term as a First Year Medic

The Medical Library at University of Cambridge

The Medical Library at University of Cambridge

This post might be a bit late, but better late than never right? :p Anyways, as of the time of writing, I’ve finished my first term at Cambridge, so that leaves me with 17 more terms to go before I graduate! It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride, but I must say that I’ve enjoyed it tremendously (even though I would probably do some things a bit differently if I had the chance to go back in time). There were good days (thanks friends) and there were bad days too (boo essays), but at the end of the day, everything that happened taught me something, and that’s all that matters.

Things didn’t always go the way I wanted them to; for example I told myself that I would organise my time really well and have time to play badminton every week and go to the gym 3 times a week, but that obviously did not happen. I told myself I would be a social butterfly, but perhaps such a drastic change from being an introvert is impossible. Also, I think that there is a culture gap that has complicated things. As someone who is more accustomed to the relatively conservative Malaysian culture, I’m not really the kind of person who likes to go clubbing, but 90% of the people here do (that’s a rough estimate based on the people I know).

Let me tell you right now that the stories you hear about workload at Cambridge are not exaggerations. I have had at least 3 essays every week (with some exceptions when they were replaced with MCQs etc.), and coupled with all the practicals, I’ve been really busy. It didn’t help that I suck at managing my time and focusing on work, so that made things a lot more difficult than they should have been. Hopefully things improve in the coming terms.

If I have any advice to give, it’s this: time management is EXTREMELY important. If you can focus on your work when you have to, you can then enjoy guiltlessly when you want to. As always, I can be contacted in various ways, namely Facebook (Victor Teh), Twitter (@Zenxenitious) and ( Just drop me a message or something and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Victor TehVictor Teh is a first year medic in the University of Cambridge. His phone is permanently on flight mode but you can always catch him online

To Stuff or not to Stuff that in?

That is the Question.

Pack light like Mike!

Pack light like Mike!

Image Source

Packing can be a long and arduous process and — I’ll admit — even infuriating at times, especially if you’re going abroad. This means that once you’ve forgotten to pack that favorite poster you need to look at before going to bed every day, you will not be sleeping for weeks, until you get used to not having it. We wouldn’t want to trouble our parents to mail us expensive parcels now do we?

Pack early.

Or at least think about what to pack at least 2 weeks prior to your departure date. When you finally get down to business, you’ll realize that there’re far more things to pack than you had initially thought of.

Essentials first!

The most important things are your documents — passport, visa, health records, flight ticket, and other documents without which you will be barred from boarding the flight or enrolling into university. Bring also sufficient cash to last until you open a bank account. Christians, pack your bibles!

Don’t bring your stuffed animal!

Just kidding, but only if it fits, and only if you’ve sworn to never part with Teddy (or Hippo). Or else do consider this option. It’ll save you a whole lot more space in that luggage.

Forget (some) electronics.

Apart from laptops, cellphones and their adapters and chargers, do not attempt to bring appliances such as an iron or a toaster or a hair dryer. The type of voltage differs from country to country, and you’re better off without all that weight anyway. If you need to be more convinced of the hassle involved, here.

I know you’ll miss your local food…

But don’t. Well all right, you can bring a few pieces of Teluk Intan heong peah if you’d like but ONLY A FEW.

Medical needs

Health care could cost a lot more in the UK and USA than in Malaysia. Do make sure you have a working health insurance plan throughout your course of study. Stow items (e.g. medicine) critical to your health in your carry-on bag and NOT your checked bag.

Winter clothing

Many experienced folks have said that it’s advisable to buy them when you’re there. Winter clothing sold overseas is much cheaper and apparently trendier than the ones here. When you’re overseas, also look out for garage sales where people sell off things they no longer need at really low prices.

Number of checked baggage allowed

In my case, we were only allowed one checked baggage per passenger. You are strongly advised to check with the airlines you will be flying with before packing.

Deciding what to put in the checked bag and the carry-on bag.

Some items are prohibited in one but allowed in the other; some items will not be allowed on board at all. Please do refer to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) webpage for a detailed list of prohibited items. Link here.

Your carry-on bag should contain the most important things i.e. passport, travel documents, money, jewellery, other irreplaceable expensive items, laptops and other electronics. You might want to bring an extra set of clothes and underwear just in case there happens to be a delay with retrieving your checked bag.

Check the current temperature of the place you’re bound for.

Dress appropriately for the climate. Bring along an extra jacket in your carry-on bag so that the weather does not take you by surprise.

No lithium in the checked bag.

Temperature or pressure changes on the plane may cause leaks or fires. To quote the American Airlines webpage, “Spare lithium, lithium-ion batteries of any kind are not allowed in checked baggage. Spare lithium, lithium-ion batteries for devices such as laptops, cell phones and cameras must be packed in carry-on baggage with the terminals covered/insulated.”

Ensure that your laptops, cellphones, iPads and tablets have sufficient charge before leaving for the airport.

US-bound passengers will be required to switch on their electronics before boarding. Failure to power your devices up will result in confiscation. This precaution was imposed in response to possible threats of terrorism. More details here.

Google for college checklists.

You might already have a checklist of items to pack but college checklists on the net could still be a great help to remind you of things that might have slipped your mind. Most of them, though, are extensive, and include things that are unnecessary or impractical for an international student to stuff them all into a TINY 28-inch luggage. Nevertheless, use it as a GUIDE. Here’s one.

Travel arrangements

Make sure you plan an itinerary before leaving your home country. This includes your temporary accommodation and the means of transport to commute from one place to another. There are many options when it comes to accommodation. I would suggest that you ask a few upperclassmen if you could stay at one of their places because this is likely to be cheaper. Else, you can opt for student youth hostels at a lower price than hotels. I was told that hotels around the university might double, triple or even quadruple their rates at peak seasons like this but if all else fails, it is still a viable last resort.

Rule of thumb: pack light! Toss out things you can afford to live without or learn to live without them. Leave some items to be bought after you arrive. Keep repacking to narrow down your list of things until the most essential ones fit snugly into your bag.

In the end you’re bound to have something you just wish you could bring. You might even go as far as attempting to use the Undetectable Extension Charm on your bag. Here’s where learning economics might make you feel better, or worse, — depending on how you see it — but either way, you will definitely be more accepting of the situation: you will concede to the economic reality of opportunity costs, that human wants are disproportionately greater than available resources to satisfy those wants.

Good luck!

Jacqueline Wong

Jacqueline Wong

Jacqueline Wong Huey Yean never (erm, rarely) gets tired of ice-cream, Hong Kong dramas, green tea, doodling and theology. She majors in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, though she secretly wants to be a graphic designer one day. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever is the chief end of this wretched sinner, saved by amazing grace.

What’s Next When Your Offer Turns Unconditional?

What’s the A-Z list of what to do after receiving your unconditional offer?

Preparing For Uni?  Stop Stressing Out!

University is a big word. It is a big word because it carries so much determination, expectation and accomplishment with it wherever it goes. If you aim to go to university, then you probably know the feeling it evokes when you even think about it.

There’s stage 1, where all you do is think about it, it’s like a crush that never goes away. With stage 1, you continue to work hard to achieve the grades you need.  After that comes stage 2, which is when you actually get accepted to University.  This is the beginning of what seems like a never-ending preparation for 3 or 4 years of your life. It is, however, not as never-ending as it may seem at first. To put it into perspective, so many before you have done it, so why can’t you? Fret not, I’m here to help.

Step 1: A basic Google search

As the acceptance letter sits beautifully on your now very cluttered desk, you need to start finding out more about where you’re going. Of course, you will have (hopefully) already done this before you applied. However, there’s always something new to discover or learn about a place. I’ve been in Malaysia my whole life but it seems like there’s always a new spot in the city to hang out in. Start with the University itself, followed by an online exploration of the city that you’ll be living in. This includes the weather.

If you feel unsatisfied with a basic Google search, start making friends. Most Universities create Facebook groups and Twitter accounts. There are usually even Facebook groups for your on campus accommodation, if you choose to live on campus. This way, you get to meet or at least talk to some your fellow freshers. I have found that this is the best way to shake off a bit of the pre-University nerves. You get to meet loads of people that are in the same place as you which makes you feel less alone in this uphill battle. You might even get to meet some people that you may already know, or people that are flying off to university from the same country as you.

More often than not, these Facebook groups and Twitter accounts allow you to ask as many questions as you want about the university and the city. You’ll get current students answering your questions personally. So ask away – ask about the city, ask about the campus, ask about the best places to hang out in. As a student, sometimes the best answers comes from other students because they know what a student might be interested in. A travel website can tell you the best places to visit as a tourist, but a fellow student can tell you the best places to visit on a student budget.

Step 2: Getting Your Visa Done

The answer to your question is yes, it is stressful, but only if you don’t know where to start. Take it from me, you should ask the people who have already been through the process. There is a 100% chance that they will tell you that the process isn’t as stressful as it seems on paper. First, find the Visa websites for the country you’re going to and find out which type of Visa you will be needing.

If you’re planning on studying in the UK, you will most likely need a Tier 4 Visa. Here’s a website that will guide you out of the abyss and hopefully get you a successful Visa application – You can also ring Malaysian British Educational Cooperation Services (MABECS) and their consultants will answer all your queries regarding your UK Visa Applications. The contact details can be found HERE

Upon receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studience (CAS) from your university, you will have to submit an online application. Fill in the online form, get a tuberculosis test done from the assigned centers (there is a specific list approved by the UKBA which can be found HERE), make an appointment with the Visa office and make sure you have all your documents. Last but not least, show up for your appointment on time! All of this is stated on the website given. After all that, you’re all set!

Step 3: Shopping & Packing

There’s a reason ‘check the weather’ is included in step 1. In order to go shopping, you need to know what to buy and what you already have. Otherwise, you will be spending loads of money on things that you probably won’t need. Keep track of weather forecasts so you know if you’ll need a jumper or a hat. Know yourself before you shop or pack. The golden rule of packing is asking yourself the following: “Am I going to shop there?” If you’re anything like me, you probably will. Aim to be financially and spatially savvy, do some research, ask around, compare the prices of clothing items in the country you’re in and in the country you’re going to. Chances are, super thick coats are probably more expensive in tropical Malaysia than freezing-cold England. You can also take it to another level and find out when all the sales are.

When packing, take a minute to explore your room and reevaluate your belongings. What do you really use and need on a daily basis? Is there ever a time that you’re going to need that particular thing? If not, then why bring it along? Remember, you are charged a whole lot of money for excess baggage. To ensure you’ve packed right, ask someone else to go through your luggage i.e your mother. They’ll probably nitpick and ask questions, and if you can’t answer why you need a particular item, then you don’t need it! And never ever choose last minute packing as an option – I did and I have regretted it since.

Lastly, weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport. Missing your flight and/or paying extra money is not a fun start for the long journey you have ahead of you.

Step 4: Flying Off

Before leaving for the airport, do the usual check your parents always do before a trip. Passport, travel documents, boarding pass, medication, cash, a book or two, gadgets. Make sure that you have everything you need before your journey. Make sure that you are at the airport at least 2 hours before your departure time.

Ultimately, begin your journey with a positive attitude and embrace the adventure. Even though for some it may seem purely academic, you’re still embarking on a new adventure every time you do something new.

And remember, university preparation doesn’t have to be stressful. So many others have done it before you and they’ve made it through. So, start Google-ing!

Siti Hasmah Charles Mok is an 18 year old adventure enthusiast. She will be  studying law at  the University of Sussex in Brighton. She’s obsessed with film, books, music and everything fashion. If you ever see her, do say hi!