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Going to a foreign land in pursuit of further study has enticed many with its offer of worldly experiences and opportunities. Three individuals speak about what it is really like studying abroad.

Anthony Michael

Becauseof its worldwide recognition and long history, Anthony chose the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to pursue his interior design course.

Having studied previously at a local institution, Anthony says that the learning programme at RMIT was more structured.

“I found the head of department and lecturers more approachable. There was more of a friendship than a strict student-lecturer relationship, which made it easier to seek assistance from them. The programme co-ordinator also set up regular one-to-one meetings to review student progress and for students to voice out concerns.”

According to Anthony, studying in a foreign university will give students international exposure as they mingle with both students and staff from other parts of the world. For a design student, he adds, this is particularly important.

He says those planning to pursue their education at an overseas institution should carry out extensive research beforehand on the chosen university and country. And whilst there, he advises them to make the best of the education offered and find time to join social groups on campus.

Of course, studying in a foreign land comes with challenges and Anthony was not spared. He says having to cope with the changing seasons, especially winter was rather difficult.

“Also because you are not at home, you are not in your comfort zone and being away from your family and friends can be rather tough at times.”

But studying overseas, Anthony continues, taught him to be more independent. For example when pocket money was running out, he took on part-time jobs that included telemarketing and leaflet-distribution to help sustain his lifestyle.

Anthony considered staying on in Melbourne once he graduated but as he was offered a job back in Malaysia, he chose to return home. He has since then moved to London where he works as an interior designer.

If asked to do it all again, Anthony says he would not hesitate in choosing the same institution. “I was very happy with the education I received and the study culture so I will definitely choose the RMIT experience all over again.”

Allan Kwek

The Charles Sturt University in Australia was Kwek’s choice to continue his tertiary education. Kwek studied advertising and says he chose Charles Sturt University because it was linked to his college.

He says that the study culture at the university was different from what he was used to in that people were more willing to participate in classes and were more outspoken, which he found to be good. However, what he found challenging was trying to understand the Australian accent.

Like most students studying overseas, funds were scarce so Kwek had to look for an alternative to supplement his pocket money. “I took on jobs as a chef at a few small restaurants cooking Chinese food. These restaurants allowed me a decent wage for my living expenses,” he says.

After graduating Kwek worked in Australia for two years but soon realised that home is really where the heart is; he decided to come back.

“Even though the wages and the lifestyle is better there, Malaysia is still home to me and I do not regret my decision at all,” Kwek says.

Kwek presently works as an animation producer, working mainly on commercials, TV series and anything that requires graphics or animating and has been in this field for about a year-and-a-half.

In his opinion, employers take higher education seriously but he feels that it does not stop there.

“One must have the passion and knowledge in his chosen field. Take advertising for example, you cannot be an advertiser solely through books as you need the passion for knowledge and selling. You need to be in the mind of consumers and think like them. It’s all about presenting and selling yourself at the end of the day,” he explains.

For those planning to go overseas, Kwek’s advice is to go with an open mind. “It was a good experience for me to wake up to something different and unfamiliar every day. If the opportunity presents itself, leave and come back with knowledge.”

“And when you’re there, never forget your roots.”

Audrey See Tho

A psychology major at the Stony Brook University in New York, See Tho says she chose to study at this university because of its high quality of research and teaching in psychology.

“I also chose the university because it is part of a network of New York state public universities called ‘State University of New York’ and it’s relatively near distance to New York City,” she explains.

See Tho says that everything is discussion-based in class and if you don’t raise your hand and ask questions, you lose out. “Professors are also very willing to mentor students and are always welcoming students to come to their office for questions or just a chat,” she adds.

Studying away from home has helped See Tho attain independence and leadership skills as she had to do everything on her own from grocery shopping to paying the bills. Together with the good, studying abroad brought with it a set of challenges.

“The distance from home also brings various stresses such as homesickness, loneliness and in winter when the sun sets really early, one can easily get depressed,” See Tho says.

She also had to cut down on her spending as she realised she could not just rely on her parents for funds so took up a job in the library as a student assistant.

See Tho says that she would definitely encourage students to study overseas as it has exposed her to so many different people and experiences and she now looks at things from new perspectives.

“New York City has broadened my vision of the world. I have been provided with so many opportunities and have met so many interesting people during my time here,” she elaborates.

Once she graduates, See Tho plans to stay on in the US if she is offered an opportunity. “I do not, however, intend to live here for the rest of my life. Malaysia is my home and I want to bring better changes to my home country with the knowledge I have gained overseas.”

Source by Gregory Basil, New Straits Times MY

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When we signed up for study abroad, we were told in so many words what to expect and what the experience was going to be like. We were told that we would visit historical sites, monuments and museums while also getting the opportunity to experience a different culture while earning college credit.

Well, after embarking on the journey and making it home, I can tell you that those things are true, but what it is more difficult to explain is just how memorable and life changing study abroad can be.

While I’m not going to sit here and say that I suddenly discovered a solution to all my problems while drinking a beer in London or found the meaning of life while sipping on wine in France, I will tell you that the things I saw are something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The study abroad I went on was a 10-day trip themed after D-Day, the 1944 Allied invasion of France. Our journey took us over the Atlantic into London, down to Portsmouth, across the English Channel into Normandy and ended in Paris.

Beach of Normandy

While on the beaches of Normandy, I had a great epiphany that I think is worth sharing, one that I think encapsulates the thing that makes study abroad so valuable. What I realized was that no amount of reading, lectures, movies or any other retelling of an event can come close to actually experiencing it for your self.

Only when I was standing on the damp sand of Omaha Beach, staring from the water’s edge back to the towering cliffs, did the magnitude of what the Americans accomplished really sink in. Only when I was standing in a crater on Pointe du Hoc did the true power of the navel warships I had read about truly make sense.

My point is that there is no way to completely explain the feelings and thoughts a place will evoke without being there. That is the true magic of study abroad. Through the program, you can go to those places, experience those emotions and create those memories.

So to those of you who are considering study abroad, I hope this helps inform your decision. Remember, you only live once so get out there and see what the world has to offer.

Source: The Lion’s Roar

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Chinese students at xiamen University
Chinese students in the classroom. The consumer class in China, India and other Asian countries is growing at a fast rate. Photograph: Alamy

Nearly 100 million people will enter the consumer class (annual income of more than $5,000) by 2015 in six south-east Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group. Another report by the McKinsey Global Institute asserts that between 2005 and 2025, China and India will see their aggregate urban consumption increase seven-fold and six-fold, respectively.

This growing consumer class in Asia will expand a new segment of students who are willing to pay for a global educational experience while staying in their home country or region. I call this segment “glocals”– global aspirations with local experiences.

Glocals are characterised by aspirations that usually outstrip both their ability to afford a full fee-paying overseas education and their academic merit to gain admission to an overseas institution with financial aid.

The traditional segment of international students go abroad for a combination of reasons such as career advancement, quality of education, immigration or the experience of living abroad. Glocals differ from this traditional segment as they look for career advancement and quality of education, without having to go very far from home.

In addition to limitations regarding financial means and academic merit, glocals may also decide to stay within their country or region due to regional mobility initiatives. For instance, the ASEAN Economic Community, aims to transform the south-east Asian region into a common market with free flow of goods, services, investment and workers, which will benefit students as well.

Glocals represent the segment of students who typically seek transnational education (TNE) including international branch campuses, twinning arrangements and online education.

The growth of Dubai as a destination for many south Asian students through international branch campuses is one indicator of growth in this student population. According to the Observatory, with 37 branch campuses, One in five branch campuses in the world is hosted by the UAE.

Malaysia recently announced that it received applications from 25 foreign universities to set up branch campuses, and that the country plans to reach a goal of enrolling 150,000 international students by 2015.

China has also been proactive in offering 1+2+1 dual degree programmes for a decade. A recent announcement by Indian regulatorsto allow joint-degrees and twinning collaborations between Indian and foreign institutions are also expected to expand the base of glocals. High-quality collaborations, such as the one between Yale-NUS in Singapore, are also anticipated to attract glocals.

Countries such as the UK and Australia have been pioneers in offering transnational education and are best positioned to serve glocals. Nearly half of all international education activity for the UK and one-third for Australia is through TNE or “offshore” provision. In terms of absolute numbers, more than 400,000 students were enrolled in the UK institutions through TNE. More than 100,000 students were enrolled in Australian institutions.

Undoubtedly, students who seek overseas education will continue to grow at a faster pace. It is the glocal segment, however, that is likely to present the next big opportunity for institutions that want to increase their global profile. The needs of glocal students, combined with a changing institutional, demographic, economic and political landscape in emerging Asia calls for an innovative and strategic approach to engage with internationalisation in Asia.

Internationalisation strategies need to move beyond student recruitment and target collaborative relationships of varying complexity and intensity, ranging from short-term exchanges to twinning international branch campuses. Undeniably, strategies will differ according to the priorities and resources of institutions, but higher education institutions need to be prepared to adapt to a major shift in student profiles and corresponding engagement strategies with Asia.

To sum up, a new segment of students is expanding. These are students who have global aspirations but will find more opportunities of education and employment mobility within local regions. This presents a vital opportunity for foreign institutions to understand glocals and strategically engage them through innovative transnational education.

As Arnold Glasgow rightfully said: “The trouble with the future is that is usually arrives before we’re ready for it.”

by Rahul Choudaha, from The Guardian , UK

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