Introspection, Palm Trees, and Sweet Friendships Past Review

By (Berea College) - abroad from 09/12/2019 to 01/20/2019 with

Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained new friends from many places around the world and I learned a bit of Bahasa Malaysia. Overall, even with some hiccups the experience was worthwhile. However, I think the program would be best enjoyed by science students.

Review Photos

Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universiti Sains Malaysia: Penang - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic rigor was questionable. Penang or at least the campus has a very laid back culture. In the classroom, this manifested in a lack of clear expectations and structure. Two out of four classes were engaging and challenging while the other two were poorly structured and demotivating. In the art department, resources are limited but the installations are beautiful. The lack of materials and tools is reconciled through the staff and student body's resourcefulness.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

There are at least eight restaurants on campus and many others off campus. Penang is a great place for foodies.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

USM drug tests every incoming student.

* Safety:

I felt extremely safe even when walking on campus at late hours of the night.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Living in Penang was fantastic and aspects of the university were cool but I think that I would have liked to participate in a program that was a bit more developed and which offered more studio art courses.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The exchange program didn't exactly have a language component/requirement but there were plenty of language classes offered.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Bahasa Malaysia I
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? To make friends with as many locals as possible and to try to order things in Malay.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Bahasa Malaysia class
  • Campus
  • Food in Penang
* What could be improved?
  • Class structure
  • Communication
  • Rigor
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known that choosing classes is basically a scavenger hunt, that classes were taught in Malay and English, how far away living accommodations are from campus, etc.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Modern Malaysian Art

Course Department: Art
Instructor: Sarena Abdullah
Instruction Language: Malay and English
Comments: The course wasn't structured in a way that was conducive to learning. The information was interesting even though the delivery wasn't engaging. The PowerPoints are in Malay which makes it difficult to stay engaged with the material if you only speak English. Students were assigned to present in groups during each class period. I don't think that this was helpful to our learning but perhaps needed because the students need practice articulating art-related thoughts and information. Students are placed in groups and asked to interview a Malaysian artist, to transcribe the interview, and to write a 10-page essay in groups (not effective). Moreover, the final exam is highly challenging because memorizing Malaysian names and the titles of works in Malay is a rather difficult task.
Credit Transfer Issues: