Introducing Ethan, a student from Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country that contributes to 5.4% percent of international students in UK universities and increasing.
Ethan Soh, 28, Kuala Lumpur – Ethan is a postgraduate Law student at Northumbria University and a member of the Malaysian society in Newcastle opon Tyne with a great passion for performing arts.
Why study in the UK?
Back then in Malaysia, I have always been exposed to British culture and happenings due to the commonwealth link that we have with the UK. That led me into searching for information related to studying in the United Kingdom. My search for a better-quality education introduced me to a deeper British culture and interest, which instigated my decision to take up my studies in the UK for my Masters.
How was your experience in the UK?
Lecturers are really helpful and they encourage initiative taking and voicing out. Brainstorming and teamwork are also encouraged in classes. This is different from the style of education in Malaysia. This method of educating in the UK helped developed the social aspect of myself and improved my confidence.
What challenges did you face?
The currency exchange is the biggest problem I faced while studying in the UK. At a point of time in 2015, the currency exchange rate was almost 7 times. It made everything more expensive for me in the UK. The difference in culture and lifestyles of the local people were also a challenge for me. It took me some time to adapt but the people in the UK were always inviting and friendly, which helped me to adapt quicker.
“Try to embrace the practices and lifestyles in the UK as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
What are your concerns before coming to the UK?
My concerns before coming to the UK were mainly costs. Some of the significant costs are the school fees and the cost of living in the area of my university. Newcastle was generally a cheaper city to live and study in, hence I could benefit from the lower cost without forgoing the UK international experience.
How do you remain connected to Malaysia?
I stayed connected to Malaysia through the Newcastle Malaysian society and hanging out with students from Malaysia. This allowed me to have an occasional southeast Asian meal together and discuss about happenings back in Malaysia. It is important for me to socialise with my fellow Malaysians so as to not lose touch with my home country.
Was the UK up to your expectations?
In regards to cost of living, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. This is mainly due to the calculated choice that I made to study in Newcastle. Newcastle also have an international airport, which has more flight options and cheaper flights. Somethings I would get questions from friends back home if racism was an issue in the UK, however from my time studying over here, it has never happened to me personally. But I do hear about it from friends.
What advice would you offer for future students?
Keep an open mind when studying in the UK. We are coming to a country with a completely different culture and lifestyle, so tolerance and understanding is required. Try to embrace the practices and lifestyles in the UK as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Lastly, enjoy your time in the UK.
In the new #AppUKinterview series, we aim to encourage all international students pursueing their postgraduate degree in the UK to use Application UK as a platform to share their experience with fellow international students. Use the hashtag #AppUKinterview to give us a shoutout or simply drop us an email for a chance to be featured.
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