My study abroad experience in Malaysia

Table of Contents

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

I studied abroad in Malaysia, and now I want to share my experience with you

Luisa, 23 years old, studied Biology at Aachen RWTH for her bachelor right after finishing her high school degree in Germany. Now, she is doing her master in medical life science. She told us that a study abroad experience is highly appreciated in her studies. When the pandemic hit, Luisa experienced her student life as dull. Then she heard stories about the study abroad experience of her fellow students. Since she had almost all her courses done already, she decided to write her master thesis while studying abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and explore South East Asia.

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I never planned to go abroad – I just never thought about it because I was so busy doing my bachelor’s straight after my high school degree in Germany. Honestly, I never felt the urge to travel to Asia. And I had never had contact to South East Asia before. But after talking to my fellow students who studied abroad, I started looking into studying in Asia, and I got fascinated.

Read also: Why study abroad in Asia?

Luisa's study aboard experience in Malaysia
Luisa used her time outside from uiversit to explore Malaysia and Southeast Asia ( here Taman Negara, National Park Malaysia)

Why did you choose to study in Malaysia?

My first choices were Hawaii and Amercia, but those are too pricy and unrealistic. On the other hand, Asia seemed affordable and realistic. I checked what my university offered, but ERASMUS was what everyone was doing and not so interesting because we can also travel easily to European countries and if I have the chance to live longer abroad. Especially since Germany is getting expensive. In contrast Asia is so cheap. Finally, Southeast asia got me hooked, and I learned about Asia Exhange. I checked out the destinations and programs they had listed on their website.

Click here to find out more about studying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I ended up choosing Malaysia for my study abroad experience. Malaysia was a great choice, because it offers the opportunity to see many countries. Kuala Lumpur is a gateway to Asia. Moreover, the semester dates and courses offered fit my studies and semester dates. I was also interested in Bali, but I thought it would be more of a tourist destination. Furthermore, I could visit Bali during my studies in Kuala Lumpur.

What expectations were met during your study experience in Malaysia, and what was different than you expected?

I tried to come to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with no expecations and didn’t plan anything. However, I was open minded for new experiences abroad. For example, I never expected to see places like Sumatra or Borneo.

Of course before my study abroad experience in Malyasia, I thought about how difficult it will be to find friends. It turned out that I found many friends so easily. Honestly, I didn’t expected to find connections like this. That’s why I would say it’s easier to meet people when you go with Asia Exchange. You will always have people who travel with you.

Luisa studied in Malaysia and travelled to Sumatra
Luisa even visited Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra – something that she never had expected!

Did you experience a culture shock when studying in Malaysia?

Yes, I did experience a culture shock when studying in Malaysia. It was a valuable experience that made me reflect on my life back home and appreciate it more. Going out of my comfort zone was a regular occurrence, and there were several instances where I felt culture shock. Some things that annoyed me included the difficulty of finding vegetarian food, the abundance of meat and fish, excessive sugar in food, and the absence of toilet paper which was always wet, especially as a girl.

However, Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, with three primary cultures: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. I found that the university was very multicultural, and everyone got along. Although, I did notice that people tended to stick with their own groups. Despite that, as a European white girl, I stood out, and people wanted to take photos of me and send them to their family group. It was like being on a never-ending field trip, which could sometimes be exhausting and emotionally draining, with some drama.

Overall, my experience in Malaysia was one that I needed. It made me realize so much, appreciate what I miss in Germany, and value it more. I needed to go out of Germany and experience something entirely different. While it was challenging, I will leave with both happy and sad eyes, knowing that I have learned so much from this experience.

Luisa's study abroad experience in Malaysia
Luisa got lost in paradise: Mabul Island, Borneo, Malaysia

What were your biggest hurdles during your study abroad experience in Malaysia?

My study abroad experience in Malaysia had its fair share of hurdles. However, one of the most significant challenges I faced was choosing courses. It was a complex process, and the courses could change at the last minute or have spontaneous schedule changes for tests. I also found it challenging to plan my travels since semester breaks sometimes changed a week earlier, making it challenging to plan. In the end, I still managed to travel around South East Asia.

Another significant hurdle I encountered was when our passports were gone for a long time. It took around a month, because we had to wait for an appointment to process the passport.

Asia Exchange Recommendation: Don’t plan any trips outside of Malaysia in the first month of your stay and focus on exploring Malaysia’s beauty and diversity!


Overall, while these hurdles presented some challenges, I was able to overcome them and learn from the experience. I believe these obstacles helped me develop adaptability, patience, and problem-solving skills, which will benefit me in my future endeavors. And in the end, that’s why you grow so much when you study abroad.

study abroad experience Malaysia, travelling to Bali, Nusa Lembongan to snorkle
Luisa had a great week for herself in Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia

have you been travelling during your studies in southeast asia?

During my time studying abroad in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to travel to several different places like Thailand, Singapore, Bali, Malaysian islands and Borneo. Whenever we had long weekends, my friends and I would take advantage of the time to explore. During one long weekend, we went on a jungle tour in Sumatra, which was an incredible experience. We saw rare animals like rhinoceroses and orangutans, and the eco-tourism aspect of the tour was fascinating. We had to fight through the jungle and sleep on the floor for two nights. It was challenging, but it was also incredibly rewarding.

We also traveled to Penang Island on the east coast of Malaysia to earn our diving certificates. This was one of the most spontaneous decisions we made, but it was an unforgettable experience. The island was incredibly beautiful, with abundant marine life and vibrant corals.

Borneo was another highlight of my travels. We went diving at Sepadan Island, considered one of the best diving spots in the world. The barracudas and other marine life were breathtaking, and the island was a true paradise. We also went on a university field trip to a UNESCO world heritage site, which was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the region.

Finally, during Christmas and New Year’s, I traveled to Thailand, where I could explore the country’s vibrant culture and natural beauty. My travels throughout Southeast Asia were an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and experience new cultures with new friends.

Read more:


Malaysia Oranguntan
“Sumatra is besides Borneo the only place in the world where wild Orangutans still exist. Amazing to see at least a semi-wilde one (raised in a sanctuary and released)” – Luisa

How is the student party life in Malaysia?

The party life in Malaysia is lively, and there is one particular street with many bars and clubs that is particularly popular. There are also many rooftop bars, such as the Dragonfly, which is beautiful die to the great views over the city. Strict dress codes are often in place. For men, shorts are typically not allowed, and flip-flops are also usually not permitted.

One aspect of the party scene in Malaysia that particularly stood out to me was the underground techno scene. There were many raves and underground clubs that I could experience during my time there. One of the most significant clubs in the region was particularly impressive, with its massive size and high energy. However, it’s important to note that many clubs and bars have strict closing times, and lights are turned on, and music is turned off at 3 am. Overall, the party life in Malaysia is exciting, diverse, and a great way to experience the culture and nightlife of the country.

Exploring Southeast Asia while studying abroad
Luisa explored Southeast Asia while studying abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Conclusion: This was my study abroad experience In Malaysia

In conclusion, my study abroad experience in Malaysia has been a life-changing journey. My interest and understanding of Asia have significantly grown, and I have become more aware of cultural differences. Living with the bare minimum has made me more humble and appreciative of the little things we often take for granted, like having a flushing toilet. Although there were moments of annoyance and discomfort, I recommend this experience to everyone. It’s an opportunity for personal growth, open-mindedness, and learning about different cultures. This journey has broadened my horizon and changed my perspective on the world. I am curious to see how I will feel when I return home, but regardless, I will be forever grateful for this experience. It is an experience that no one can take away from me, and I will look back on it for my whole life. If you have the chance financially and time-wise, and want to grow, studying abroad in Malaysia is the best decision you can make.

Do you want to study abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? Find out more about the University Putra Malaysia!

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company that provides study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students worldwide. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to ourmonthly newsletter!If you have any questions about studyingabroad, feel free tocontact us!We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.