1. Learn in one of Earth’s most diverse places
With so many Asian countries, each with such diverse cultures, it is so difficult to pick just one to study in! We fully understand the struggle; maybe India? Indonesia? China? Well…how about getting to experience three-in-one instead?
As a pivotal stop on the Spice Trade sea route, Malaysia was the middle point for all ships headed from Asia to Europe and vice versa. As a result, it has become a hodge-podge of dozens of cultures living harmoniously under one flag. Incidentally, it is also ranked the 16th most peaceful country in the world, even ahead of Belgium, Norway, and Sweden.
Opportunities to study in Malaysia for international students offer the chance for profound personal insight into how diversity and coexistence manifest in an especially peaceful and beautiful way! There is much to take away from this experience — are you ready to study in Malaysia and explore it?
2. Get in touch with your wild side
Eastern Malaysia, or Borneo, raises the hair on any adventure lover’s head. If wildlife and natural beauty is something you seek, there is no better country to visit! Two-thirds of Malaysian Borneo and three-fifths of the peninsula is still undeveloped rainforest where wild animals roam freely. Everyday has the potential for adventure for international students in Malaysia!
There are a whopping 40+ national or state parks throughout the whole country. Studying abroad is all about exploring the unfamiliar, and what is further from home than an equatorial rain forest in Southeast Asia?
Visit Taman Negara National Park, one of the country’s most notable tourist destinations. Walking through trails, waterfalls, and canopies, you can spot tapirs, deer, monkeys, and hundreds of bird species. In Borneo, you may be able to see massive animals where you can get some face time with rhinos, elephants, tigers, and orangutans.
If you are a wildlife lover, Malaysia is your dream country! Maybe you’ll even get lucky enough to overlap with the blooms of the Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid or the Rafflesia, the world’s rarest flowers which happen to be native to Malaysia. Feeling extra pioneering, you can climb Mount Kinabalu, one of the most beautiful and rewarding mountaineering adventures in the world!
3. Find the most affordable student city in the world
Why study in Malaysia? Because you can save a bundle! What will probably be your favorite item on this list is the extremely affordable cost of living in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur has been consistently ranked the #1 most affordable city for students in the world.
The estimated living cost for international students in Malaysia (including food, housing, and transportation) is only about $300 a month. Monthly food bills alone usually exceed that in most U.S. cities, much less rent!
And if you feel like splurging a little bit more, you can get a penthouse apartment with an infinity pool overlooking Kuala Lumpur for ONLY $15 a night. Seriously where else is this possible? There’s a reason people move here and don’t end up leaving. How can you go back to real life once you’ve tasted this kind of bang for your buck?
4. Take the cheapest flights in the world!
While we are on the subject of money, let’s talk about something bound to be a draw for any student. Cheap flights! A comprehensive analysis of international flights found Malaysia is the country in the world with the cheapest flights per mile, at just $4.10 per 60 miles. Awesome right?
Imagine being on Malaysia study abroad and having the opportunity to fly ANYWHERE in Southeast Asia for $50 round trip. It sounds like an impossible dream, but it’s reality here. Weekends exploring Bangkok? Angkor Wat? Bali? It’s all an attainable dream that won’t break the bank! Your Instagram feed is going to be out of this world!
The only question is where to first??
5. Explore dream worthy beaches and islands
Malaysia is relatively unknown as a beach destination compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors Indonesia and Thailand. However, just because it is less well-known does not mean it is any less beautiful! In reality, it’s quite the opposite.
The 878 islands making up Malaysia are essentially the same in the equally pristine sand and clear turquoise seas, sharing coastlines and the same ocean. Where Malaysia has the edge, however, is the off-the-beaten-path factor, meaning you have miles of coastline to explore without another soul in sight.
Off Peninsular Malaysia, students can take a quick boat trip to visit picture-perfect Redang, Langkawi, Rawa, or the Perhentians. International students in Malaysia can spend their weekends visiting this paradise just a hop away from their university.
Off the coast of Malaysian Borneo is what dreams are made of, home to absolute legends including diving hot-spot Sipadan; the home of the first season of the reality TV show Survivor, Pulau Tiga; and what could be the world’s most beautiful place, Pulau Bohey Dulang (seriously, Google it).
Easy to get to, cheap prices, crystal clear water, good diving and snorkeling, and thousands of miles of white sand…beaches do not get better than in Malaysia.
6. Eat your heart out!
Opportunities to study in Malaysia for international students were made for foodies at heart. Malaysia’s central position in the Spice Trade now finds it at the crossroads for delicious flavors and recipes from the whole world.
Local cuisine has vast influence from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Javanese, and Sumatran cultures. A Chinese dumpling breakfast followed by a Laksa (coconut seafood noodle soup) lunch, and a Korean dinner is not only possible, but it’s common! And the best part? It’s all incredibly affordable. In many places, you can get a full stomach for less than $2. Sounds like a sweet deal for broke college students
Visit Penang Island, what some call “the food paradise of Asia”. Heard of Thai Penang Curry? That dish actually originated here. Street food stalls are open from 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., making it possible for you to fill your belly non-stop.
Wander down lanes filled with street art and lanterns, and prepare for your mouth to be non-stop watering. There are quite literally hundreds and hundreds of dishes you can try, all made from love with the input of generations. Have one meal here and learn why Malaysians are so passionate about their food!
7. Enjoy the most public holidays in the world
Malaysia is the world champion when it comes to fun things to do and experience. The multitude of cultures and religions means a multitude of holidays and celebrations, resulting in a whopping 50 total holidays You read that right: 50! This means approximately one day out of every week is a holiday in Malaysia.
In your course of study, you can enjoy vibrant post-sunset Ramadan feasts with the Muslim population, set off firecrackers during Chinese New Year, and get drenched in technicolor powder during Hindu Holi.
Some years, you’ll be lucky enough to experience all three in one semester! If you desire to really get to know the place you’re studying in, these festivals are a perfect way to get integrated. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience that you can truly only get during Malaysia study abroad.
8. Find excellent study abroad programs
Opportunities to study in Malaysia for international students have really taken off in the last 10 years, with an influx of funding and programming making a name for the educational quality on an international stage. The country is becoming a hub for students from all over the world!
In most recent rankings, Malaysia was ranked the #11 most popular country for international students, hosting more than 80,000 from 100+ countries. Whether you are interested in a particular program, like SIT’s amazing International Relations and New Economies course; a marine science and turtle conservation course based in Borneo with Globalteer; or leadership training with young international leaders in capital Kuala Lumpur, there is a wide variety of opportunities available to you.
If you feel like directly enrolling in a university or doing a formal exchange to live among Malay peers, this option is available as well. In fact, four of Malaysia’s universities ranked in the top 25 for academic institutions established in the last 50 years, but are on the rise in terms of global ranking.
There are also many programs combining an extended stay in Malaysia with a visit to another country. Want to visit China, Singapore, or Thailand? These options are all possible to you and you’ll get college credit for it. No wonder so many international students are flocking to study in Malaysia — the academics and diversity of opportunities are unrivaled!
9. Peruse great infrastructure
Okay, so this may be the least fun item on this list, but it’s important to consider for a student deciding to up and move to a new country. Health, safety, and ease of daily life are all factors to consider, because let’s be real, we want an adventure but we also want to stay alive as well!
Lucky for you, Malaysia scores highly in this department! It is easy to navigate getting here, and many people speak English. Plus, the visa process is a piece of cake. Malaysia is also well-developed — roads are well-paved and public transportation in cities and across the country is cheap and extensive.
International students in Malaysia will also find extremely professional and affordable health care. Many students choose not to get health insurance because you can visit a doctor and expect to pay around just $10!
It’s always nerve wracking to ponder life on the other side of the world, especially if this is your first time spending extended time abroad, but trust us: Malaysia’s got you covered!
10. Find super helpful expat networks
It’s always easier to move to a place when there are people there to help you. Well lucky for you, there are widely established expat communities throughout Malaysia in cities like Kota Kinabalu, Ipoh, Georgetown, Malacca, and of course, Kuala Lumpur. And they are all eager to welcome you into their circles!
The quality of life per dollar spent has been drawing and keeping expats here for decades. In fact, Malaysia is so well-established as an expat hub that the infamous international running social club, the Hash House Harriers (an expat staple), was even founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1933! Get ready for trivia nights, brunch in artsy cafes, social clubs, holiday parties, and other get-togethers.
Also, if you want to save money, buy new things, ask questions, or simply meet other friends, there are — no joke — DOZENS of Facebook groups for you to join. You can find any group, from all-female to student-only, or whichever community you are looking for!
11. Become fluent in one of the world’s easiest languages to learn
For native English speakers, Malaysian always ranks in the top seven easy languages to learn! This may surprise you, but Bahasa Malay is SO easy to learn. For starters, they use Roman letters, just like English does, so you won’t have to learn a new alphabet.
In addition, words are pronounced EXACTLY as they’re spelled — no silent letters here! Grammar is also absurdly easy; there are no verb conjugations (you read that correctly!), no plurals (you literally repeat the word twice), and no written genders (even easier than Spanish!). If you’re a student who struggles with grammar in language-learning, Bahasa Malay is the language for you!
For extra points, the US State Department has listed the Indonesian language, which is the same as Malay, as one of the critical languages to learn. This means fluency in Bahasa Malay will make you more employable in many fields, especially if you want to work with the government or in security. Becoming fluent in a language with over 300 million worldwide speakers is an amazing opportunity and resume booster, right?