Guide to Surviving Malaysia's Local University Life

Back then when I just completed and was waiting for my Form 6 STPM results to be released. I spend countless days thinking whether I will be able to get good results and then be accepted into a reputable university or not. Then from there I also I also have spent countless hours trying to figure out what I'll have to bring and what I should be doing to survive and excel in this new chapter in my life. 

In this new blog post entry I will be sharing with my readers (especially those who shared similar fate like me, being the first one in the family to be posted to a different state to further their studies) on simple Guide to Surviving University. 

I am by no means an expert, the whole idea of this blogpost is to only share my personal opinion and experience. I dare to share my thoughts because I know I'm not the only one doing so and these are legit what i have been through. haha

In no particular order, here is my Guide to Surviving University in Malaysia:

1. Accepting the Fact

I remember logging in to UPU website to check on the results, I got a real shock at the message displayed on my computer screen; congratulating me, saying that I was accepted into Universiti Malaysia Perlis for the course International Business, batch 1. Aside from the very affordable school fees and available PTPTN loan which I can take to support my Degree. The first thing that went to my mind was DAFAQ IS THIS PLACE? so what I did  shortly after was I starter Googling for images of the state of Perlis and then Googled further to know more about this university which I have yet to know about its existence. Hahaha. Anyway, after Googling for what seem to be like forever I decided to take the challenge thrown to me and accepted the offer. 

2. Be a Minimalist

One of the biggest mistake I made in my First Year First Semester was that I was so worried I won't be able to get a certain stuff which I normally would use in that small town. I worried so much I brought almost my whole room with me. Which was a silly idea. You know why ? Because when you get into your hostel you are only given a small locker a bunk bed and a table to study. The locker is so tiny you can't even keep much in there. Uni time is the best time to learn to be the minimalists! To be the Queen of Outfit-repeater! Because chances are no one would even notice or care. Also if there are items which you feel you really need, you can always go back home during the semester break and bring them over later on. 

I was really very fortunate to have Leimun as my first roommate. This girl is a crazy minimalist !!! So yeah I pretty much occupied most of the area in the room. Hahaha my other friends like Amanda my second roommate and Janice and Shi Ying were also minimalist. I was the only drama queen at that time, I think hahahahah.

In a nutshell, this is what you will be getting (of course the table was originally outside but we took it in)

and your bed would only look like this at every begining of the semester, shortly after you won't even bother making the bed because you will find yourself coming back so often for naps between classes

If by this point you still have no idea what I meant by being a minimalist, below are a list of items which I think are the most essential items you need to bring with you: 

a) 2 sets of pyjama, 3 sets of causal wear, 1 jacket, 2 pair of jean pants, 1 set of sports wear, 5 sets at least of formal wear clothing (you may go lesser if you are okay being seen wearing the same shirt twice in the same week, if you are taking engineering course you may want to double up on polo tees instead of on your formal wear) - may bring more if you wish but chances are you won't be using them. Bare in mind that for every piece of clothes you wear you are required to wash it yourself either by hand or the at the self service laundry machine in hostel which takes forever to reach your turn. Because there's only one damn machine and then there's like hundreds of us in that same building. 

b) 1 pair of flip flop, 1 pair of sports shoe (may double up as school shoe as well. Preferably running shoe coz they will make you do cross country 15KM , no joke I nearly died... Lols), one pair of converse shoe for class and one pair of heels for presentation 

c) A pail to keep and do laundry, hangers (damn important ) and some laundry detergent - optionally you can also opt not to bring them from home instead buy them when you are settled in your Uni. I remember using Leimun's washing detergent and hangers 

d) Stationery - pen, pencil, paper, erasers, file (you get the drill) and a bag for school. If you are able to afford it. I would suggest that you get prepared by buying your own laptop. Of course it is possible to cruise through Uni without a laptop, you just need to spend more time in the library and renewing your PC usage every other hour or so only. :) I got mine during the mid of First Semester.

e) Makeup - depending on how strong your addiction is. Or else just the basics will do. 

f) shower gel, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste

g) (this trick I learnt it from my roommate, Amanda) - go get yourself a stainless steel mug with a lid on. It will be very useful because you will be soaking a lot of instant noodles with it. It can also be doubled up as a cup or a bowl if needed.  Don't forget the chopsticks and fork and spoon ! 

h) if there's a little more space, packing a couple of late night snacks like cookies and instant noodles won't hurt


a) A printer, most Uni would require students to register their electronic items like printer and laptop. So please go get your items registered before you get fined for using an unauthorised or unsafe electronics within the hostel perimeter 

b) An electrical kettle, some Uni would provide each hostel or dorm a common Kettle. Thus, prohibiting students from bringing one. Some Uni would allow students to bring their own kettle but it has to be registered prior to using. As for Leimun, myself and many other students we knew, we secretly sneak our kettle into the hostel and carefully hiding them well after using. Hahahahah, our Uni eventually caved in and allow students to bring out own kettle to boil water after receiving several complain about the unit which they provide. 

c) For students who who could afford bring a car with you. Well, please be informed that students who are in their first year are normally not allowed to bring their cars to Uni, you may only register your car and park within the hostel or campus perimeter starting from second year onwards. However, if you are good enough with words you may go approach your seniors for help to get your car registered under his name. Of course I would not encourage you to do so because if you do, that would only meant that you owe that senior a favour and then if he or she ask you if they can bring your car out for a spin with their friends or dates you will feel very obligated to agree. Also when you have a car you need to be prepared to be the most popular student people want to have lunch with !!! 

My suggestion: skip the whole car hassle in your first year. I personally didn't have a car back then so I go around a lot relying on the shuttle services my Uni provided. Leimun has no car as well but she love walking and waiting so much you can always see her damn face in town almost majority of the time. Hahahahaha and mind you Perlis is a very hot state in a bad day temperature may go up close to 40 degree Celsius and you can always spot Leimun waiting for bus or eating at some random shop holding an umbrella in covered shoes, jeans, a polo tee and wearing our Uni Jacket. Myself I prefer to stay indoors till the evening when it is less hot. I'll try avoid going out as much as possible unless it is for school and weekend where I need to go out and have some fun. 

3. Make New Friends

I cannot stress enough how important this is. When you are away from home far from the city or town you are familiar with, the best way to survive is to make new friends. And chances are, these friends you befriended will be your friends for a very very long time. These are the people who would cry with you when you feel a little homesick, accompany you to visit the in-house clinic, they are the ones whom you will eat, sleep, study, visit places, gaining and giving moral support with. They are also your alarm clock on days when you accidentally slept pass your alarm. 

Be ready to really open up your eyes and discern who are the people you want to be friends with and who you don't want to be friends with. Chances are there are many assholes who will act like they are your friends and stab you at the back and some people who know what's going on won't even bother telling you because they are SELFISH , all men are for themselves. The best way to really see who are friends and who are foes is either by the end of your semester 1. If you are lucky, you may tell right away when you and your 'pals' are required to work on a group assignment. These people and those asshole that knew about what's going on and refuse to tell you despite you asking,  if you ever met one of them, please please delete and block them from all your social media account. Cut ties, I repeat cut ties !

If you are a lady, be ready to see your social media friend request boom up to 100 a day ! Because every guy in campus would want to be your friend. Well okay maybe not every but most ! Hahaha so definitely I would suggest that you categorise them nicely and think if you really want to approve that friends request or not. Sometimes you will feel as though you are obligated because the person who sent you the friends request is a senior. But hey, you don't need to feel bad you can keep the request there unattended till you have met or talk to that person and only then you approve is totally okay. Don't stress about petty issues. It is not worth your time.

4. Do What The Romans Do 

In Bahasa Malaysia we have this saying which is read as "masuk kandang kambing mengembek, masuk kandang kerb au menguak" as much as we want to go cowboy style, I strongly would advice you to observe what are some of the culture which other seniors and the locals does, unless of course if your Uni is located in the city then it is a whole different case as city people are much more liberal in many ways. But if you are like us (Leimun and I) our Uni is located in the state of Perlis where people there are much more conservative. Which means what deem as normal attire to us may not be normal to other. Haha, you get the drill.

Sometimes you may even find strange weird people who tend to fancy animals. Your housemate or dorm mate may even have pets which are strictly prohibited. Hahaha , like me I kept 2 hamsters for last 2 years of my Uni life. Some others may have kept like Pet iguana, cats, hamsters, fishes, tortoise or even an Owl!!!!  For all you illegal pet owners, make sure you set perfect boundaries for your pets and assure people around you that you will keep your pets under full control at all times. It is a good stress relief, and be prepared to get visitors from all races visiting your pet and not you. You also run the risk of getting a warning letter or a fine ticket for bringing in prohibited items. I remember how my Malay housemates help me hide my little hamsters while I was at class. I'm eternally grateful to them hahaha. I am also very grateful to have Shi Ying as my roommate who didn't really mind having pets around. She also did help me clean out the pan when I was busy doing some other thing. 

While I acknowledge that some people don't fancy such pets *cough*Leimun*cough* it is always good to be flexible and be open to the idea that your fellow mates have such weird obsession. Overtime Leimun did learn to like my hamster, she did use her index finger to touch them, I won't force Leimun to sleep with my hamster but she has to accept that my hamster sleeps in the room under my bed with me!

5. Time Management

With all the freedom we get, things can pretty much go out of hand. It is vital that we know how to manage our time, specifically - to study, to eat, to sleep and have fun. Because once you are in Uni your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt and uncle or even your nanny will not be there to keep reminding you to study and what not. So this is the best time you learn how to organise your time accordingly. 

6. Be Independent 

This is one part that I really struggle the most and the area which I really learn it the hard way. So my advice is, if there's one thing you need or want to get, please do not be ashamed to open your mouth and ask. The key is to ASK ! If you don't ask you will be left out. Asking people politely is the only key to getting the answer. Aside from that it is also important for you to be bolder. I know some of you readers may be pretty meek and shy... i.e like me !!! Hahahahah trust me this is the best time for you to really train yourself to be bolder and more confident. Do learn that it is perfectly fine to ride the shuttle service bus alone, perfectly okay to study and eat alone when your schedule does not co-inside with your other friends and it can be a breakthrough for you to take small adventures visiting places alone. Take this 3-4 years of your time in Uni to really learn and be comfortable with yourself. 

7. Be Wise - Just Listen

Whenever there's a group of people who hangs out together 24/7 please be rest assured that drama would always occur. Best way to stay out of trouble is to listen more and talk less. You will find this skill very useful when you start working in the future. You may thank me later ! 

8. Have Fun 

Have FUN !!! Really just enjoy the ride, the ups and downs that comes with it. Make small mistakes is okay! Go explore , it is perfectly fine ! But please make sure you know your boundaries and principles. Know what you can do and what you cannot do and stand firm to it. 

Chances are, for you that haven't dated before, your first love may be one of the guys in Uni. If it is so, take things slow and don't be pressured into doing things you don't want to do just because others are doing so. If it didn't work out is okay, don't feel sad. Ask any of your seniors and they are well aware of this acronym FUU(for university use), it sounded lame but, oh well. I'm not saying there's no true love, I do know quite a number of them who are still standing strong till this day. Point is, just relax, don't worry too much and try to really control your emotions and stay focus to study your subjects (especially when it is test or exam period). 

University life is all about experiencing. Just go with it and I promise you it would be the best time of your life. 

I hope what I have just shared is good enough to help give a glimpse of what University life is.  Among my siblings and I, I was the only one who got enrolled into a local University, the rest of them and most people around me enrolled themselves into Private UniColl (3+0) so I didn't manage to get much reference or sharing of experiences. Coming from a background which was pretty conservative and protected, I had to learn most of it the hard way. It is okay I'm not complaining. Looking back right now, University life is one of the best season I have ever experienced and I'm forever grateful to it. 

Till our next post.

Angie 😀