Notes from a Penang Newbie

After a long hiatus from blogging, I decided to post some of my experiences while I’m studying as an exchange student at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. I just got here a few days ago, but I thought I should get started on putting some images on my head into words so that one day I can look back and remember the experiences I had 🙂 I hope my experiences can also give you some enlightenment on how studying in Malaysia is.

So I was accepted into USM through ASEAN University Network – ASEAN Credit Transfer System (AUN-ACTS) Program, where I applied for some courses at Faculty of Social Sciences in USM. I chose USM mostly because my student adviser at Universitas Airlangga recommended USM for its multiculturalism, since I’m going to take some gender courses, and neutrality on gender perspectives are important. I applied (and got accepted) at Universiti Brunei Darussalam too, but I picked USM.

I arrived at Penang at 7 PM local time, which differs about 1 hour from where I came from (it was GMT +7 at Surabaya). It’s still very clear, didn’t really look like it’s evening already. But in less than an hour, it’s already dark, so I guess it’s quite similar to Surabaya in terms of when the sun rises and sets. The weather is quite warm in the evening, but it’s quite windy, so it’s quite cool, but not so much that it gets cold.

Two USM International Buddies, Tiqah and Chen, picked me up that day. Besides my friend Engrid and I, they also picked up some other exchange students from Finland, Mexico, Netherlands, Canada, and Korea. Most of the exchange students that I met that day stayed at Sunnyville and E-Park (the apartments within walking distance of USM). But thankfully, the Netherland and Korean student, whom I knew as Rozianna and Bada, stayed at USM dorm.

Each dorm room was built for two students, so there were two beds, two desks, and two drawers to keep our clothes. The rooms had no air conditioning, but the windy Penang and the electric fan on each room keep it cool and comfortable to sleep in. Every four rooms had two showers and two toilets, so we don’t have to wait too long if we want to take a bath or go to the toilet. In each dorm, they also provide Laundry Room and Ironing Room where we can wash and iron our clothes in. With these kinds of facilities at the dorm, I can see why there are many exchange students each year at USM: because it’s neat and easy to adapt in. Well, for a Southeast Asian student like me, it doesn’t take a long time to adapt at Penang, because it’s not that different to Indonesia. The only habit that I have to develop in is the habit to walk everywhere in the hellish afternoon Penang weather 😐

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