And let us tell you that if you choose Malaysia as the place to further your studies, you’ll be among 122,061 other international students from 160 countries studying here. (Soaring Upwards: Malaysian Higher Education, MOHE, April 2016).
But if you’ve yet to decide, let us tell you a bit more about Malaysia and why this country could be ideal for you. We will also share what you need to know before making a decision – from the higher education opportunities available to you, to what to expect living as a student in Malaysia.
The States of Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia comprises 11 states, namely, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor and Terengganu. Together with Sabah and Sarawak (located in East Malaysia), they make up the 13 states of Malaysia. There are three Federal Territories namely, Kuala Lumpur - the capital of Malaysia; Putrajaya - the Federal Government Administrative Centre; and Labuan - a ‘tax-free’ island located off the coast of Sabah.
The People of Malaysia
Malaysia is proud to be a multi-racial country living together harmoniously. With about 31 million people, the three major races are Malay, Chinese and Indian. Other ethnicities include Peranakan (Straits Chinese), Orang Asli (indigenous people) and Eurasians (who are mainly of Portuguese, Dutch or British descent).
The people of Sarawak are made up of Dayaks, Kayans, Kenyahs, Kelabits (Orang Ulu), Melanaus, Sarawak Malays, Penans and Lun Bawang (Muruts). In Sabah, the indigenous groups consist of the Kadazans/Dusuns, Orang Sungei, Bisayas, Bajaus, Muruts, Rungus, Bruneis, Lotuds and many other subgroups.
The country’s official language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay language), but many other languages and dialects are used in Malaysia. Mandarin is widely spoken by the Malaysian Chinese besides dialects like Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Teo Chew, Foo Chow, Hock Chew, and Hainanese. The Malaysian Indian communities speak dialects like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi and Sri Lankan, among others. In Malaysia, English language is one of the compulsory subjects in schools. It is widely used in everyday business communications, the tourism industry, radio and television broadcasting stations, commerce, and is also the medium of instruction at private higher educational institutions. Most Malaysians use English as their second language, hence, foreigners who speak English would be able to communicate effectively with Malaysians.
Religions in Malaysia
Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but other faiths like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and Sikhism are practised freely by all Malaysians. The Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion in the country. Suraus (Musli prayer rooms) can be found in most buildings including colleges and universities. Mosques are found in every district while Christian churches, Buddhist temples and Hindu temples can be found throughout Malaysia.
Location and Climate
Malaysia is located in south-east Asia, 7 degrees north of the equator, GMT +8. Its neighbours are Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. Malaysia is located in a zone that does not experience drastic weather changes or serious natural calamities such as earthquakes and tornados.
Malaysia has a pleasant tropical climate and is generally hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures are around 30-33°C during the day and 25°C at night in the lowland areas and between 21°C and 28°C in the highlands. Light cotton, cool and casual clothing is recommended all year round. Most of the facilities on campuses are air-conditioned so students like you can study in comfort.
The north-east monsoon blows from the months of November to April and bring heavy rains to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia as well as to Sabah and Sarawak. The south-west monsoon season from May to October is a drier period although the tropical climate means that rain and thunderstorms can be expected from time to time.