First of all, a big thank you to the MicroEDU team (especially Sabine). I always felt well advised and could really rely on getting reliable and fast information (I found out from other “free movers” at Swinburne University of Technology that there are definitely other organizations there).
The application and all the formalities were actually quite easy to fill out and hardly any evidence was required. The confirmation from the university came very late, so I got a little nervous about booking the flights. But in the end everything went very well and the fact that no visa application has to be submitted in advance relaxes the time organization a lot. All in all quite simple and problem-free (except for a little patience while waiting for the approval).
First of all, the question for me was where to go. Three things were important for me in the decision:
- An exciting country in terms of culture and people, which was previously unknown to me and also differs from Germany,
- A university that is comparable to a German university (for eligibility),
- the costs for the semester abroad, so that there is still money left over for the travel budget at the end
After looking at MicroEDU’s partner universities and some countries had disadvantages – USA, difficult and expensive with master’s courses in business administration and expensive, Australia / New Zealand even more expensive, etc. – my choice fell on the Australian Swinburne University of Technology with its campus in Kuching, Sarawak. The mix of Australian university, Asian culture and lower tuition fees turned out to be spot on for me.
At Swinburne University there is always a contact person to whom you could ask all questions and the university is not that big either, so most issues could be resolved directly. The university went to great lengths to make their stay as pleasant as possible for the exchange students.
Studying at Swinburne University of Technology
Since I had taken master’s courses as part of the MBA program, the lectures and exercises always took place in the evening (about half of the students work) and there was no introductory week (compared to the bachelor students). I spent a “term” at Swinburne. You can attend up to 2 lectures per “Term” (are a lot more complex than German lectures) and my semester (Term 1) lasted from February 9th to April 19th with 4 lectures / exercises per week (always 7-10pm and Saturday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.).
I took the lectures Business Financial Strategies and Marketing Strategy Development. It is important that you should have a preliminary examination done at your home university, if this is possible. Then you can possibly change the courses on site if no credit can be given. At the University of Hamburg, for example, I was able to credit the Marketing Strategy Development course with 17 credit points, but not Business Financial Strategies.
When you’re done with all of this, studying at Swinburne is very pleasant. For example, I was the only student in my two courses who only completed a semester abroad. In each course there were 15-20 students, about 50% native (Malay, Chinese) and 50% foreign students who complete the entire course in Malaysia. All in all a colorful and interesting mix.
In general, it can be said that the effort, especially during the semester, is a lot higher because there are a lot of group work, lectures or homework, but the exam phase was quite relaxed at the end (I only had one exam that made up 50% of the overall grade).
Kuching – living and living
Kuching is a medium-sized city (approx. 600,000 inhabitants) that is divided into two districts by the river. In the southern part mainly people of Chinese origin live, in the northern part mainly Malays. The university, many bars, pubs, restaurants and the airport are located in the southern part. In general, it is very manageable in Kuching, but without getting boring (at least for a semester).
Everyone, really all of the residents of Kuching (whom I had got to know), were very nice, friendly and open to me and also always very interested in how you like it in Kuching, etc. (because you are inevitably recognized as a foreigner immediately). And the great and especially relaxed thing for me was that I never had the feeling that I was paying more than the locals or that the locals wanted to earn money from me. This has to do with the fact that there are very few tourists in Kuching (in contrast to Thailand or similar). Life in general is very relaxed, the Malaysian way in general (what you should really get into as a German!) And in particular the many different restaurants / food courts (Chinese, Malaysian, indigenous ethnic groups) invite you to come together almost at any time of the day or night Eat a. Food itself is also very cheap and it feels like nobody cooks at home, but everyone always eats out together. One or the other dish may take some getting used to, but all in all there are many great things and there is something for everyone. In particular, fresh fish dishes and of course the Sarawak Laksa and Cangkok manis / mani cai are very recommendable (you will surely find out what that is ).
In Kuching and Malaysia as a whole, you get along very well with English. Almost all residents speak English, as English is usually the common language anyway due to the many different languages spoken in everyday life.
- Learn more information about the country of Malaysia and continent of Asia on weddinginfashion.
There are essentially 3 options when it comes to living. Living on campus, which comes with some restrictions, but is definitely the cheapest option. Living in the Riverine Apartments. There is the luxury of a pool and beautiful apartments (the costs are also comparatively high) or the 3rd option: Living in one of Jospeh Chuo’s 3 houses (I chose this option, if interested, he can be found on Facebook under the same name to contact). The advantage is the fairly central location of the 3 houses in the middle of a residential area and the flexibility in terms of rental periods. The landlord is really very nice and is happy to show you a few restaurants or you can contact him with questions if you want.
When renting, you can count on around 30 ringgit per day (around € 7-8) (for scooters + room). Every house has a kitchen and at least 1 bathroom and 3-5 rooms, all of which are absolutely ok (if you don’t expect luxury).
Travel to Malaysia and Asia
Traveling in Malaysia is quite cheap and easy. Around Kuching there are several national parks and interesting destinations, some of which can be reached in a short time by scooter or bus and are suitable for day trips. In particular, the Orangutan Recreation Center, Bako National Park, Damai Beach, the hot springs and some waterfalls are highly recommended.
With Air Asia you can fly very spontaneously and inexpensively within Borneo and the mainland of Malaysia and neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Singapore or the Philippines are also worth a trip. I myself was on the mainland, in some places on Borneo (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in general with diving etc.), in Indonesia (the 3-day tour on Mt. Rinjani, Lombok is highly recommended) and in Singapore during or after my semester abroad.
It was really a great and eventful time in Borneo that I wouldn’t want to miss. I have not regretted the decision to join Swinburne University of Technology in Kuching and I definitely saw a lot of new things, got to know different cultures and gained a lot of experience. I think this would probably not have been possible in “western” countries like the USA or Australia. So I can only recommend this step to everyone, it’s worth it!