Malaysia is comprised of a multi-ethnic mix of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and numerous indigenous tribes. This is a result of a rich history beginning from the origins of the Malacca Sultanate in the 1400’s and subsequent colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and British up to 1957, the year of independence. Malaysia is a member of the United Nations (UN), Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to name a few. Malaysia is also an active founding member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In recent years, foreigners from all over the world have made Malaysia their second home, either for retirement or to seek employment. Malaysia is a true melting pot of the different races and religions. You will find that people generally respect, appreciate and celebrate this cultural diversity. The same diversity can also be found at ICYM College. Get to know the different nuances of each community, as well as what has converged and come to be known as true Malaysian culture.
Malaysia enjoys a tropical climate which is either hot and dry or hot and wet. Temperatures normally range from 21ºC to 35ºC. Most days are hot, humid and sunny. Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm. Although humidity is high, classrooms, lecture halls and library are air-conditioned.
As a result of the multi-cultural makeup of Malaysia, many different languages and dialects are spoken. Bahasa Malaysia (the Malay language) is the official language and English is widely used as the language of trade and commerce. Mandarin and various Chinese dialects (like Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka) and Indian dialects (like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalee, Punjabi) are also widely spoken within those of the same community. Due to the influences of the various races, colloquial English spoken by Malaysians among themselves has evolved into a somewhat pidgin form, often light-heartedly referred to as ‘Manglish’.
The official religion of Malaysia is Islam and its tenets can be seen in the language, culture, clothing, food and architecture. Islam is observed by around 60% of Malaysians. There are also numerous Buddhist and Hindu temples and Christian (both Catholic and Protestant) churches. Freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed for non-Muslims. In fact, the major religious and/or traditional festivals are gazetted public holidays (like Aidil-Fitri and Aidil-Adha, Deepavali, Thaipusam, Wesak, Chinese Lunar New Year and Christmas).
Food is plentiful, cheap and a popular pastime for most Malaysians. Local cuisine reflects the contributions of its ethnic groups. Many dishes combine ingredients from the different communities. Even western food is infused with local flavours and cooking techniques. The average Malaysian should be able to tell you where their favourite Chicken Rice, Char Kuey Teow, Roti Canai or Nasi Lemak stall is. As these foods are probably alien to you, do try them out when you get to Malaysia. As diversity is the name of the game, variety is the spice of life with food from all over the world available within a stone's throw. Western fast food from major international franchise outlets is conveniently located in many places.
ICYM College's cafeteria and the many food courts, cafes and coffee shops located in the vicinity serve a large variety of food. All food served on campus in the condominium hostel and college cafeteria is halal for Muslims. Food prices range from RM 3 - RM10 per meal, depending on what is ordered.
International students studying in KL will notice that travelling in and around the capital city of Malaysia very convenient. Rapid Transit System which covers a wide range of buses and railway transportation are the most favoured choice, due to its affordable fares and easily recognizable route network. RapidKL, like the name suggests, are buses picking and dropping passengers in and around KL area. Buses are air-conditioned and not only do they move up and down busy streets in KL but also residential areas for the convenience of students living in houses nearby their universities and colleges. One must prepare enough small changes for bus fare, there are reload access card such as Touch ‘n’ Go for the frequent user.
Students who do not wish to take the buses are welcome to try the railway transportation. Compared to RapidKL, there are more choices of trains managed by Rapid Transit System to choose from. When the traffic condition does not look good, always look to hit on the railways to avoid getting stuck in the traffic. Options to travel on the railway consist of Electric Train Services (ETS), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and the Monorails. While the ETS focuses on long distance, state to state intercity travelling, the LRT in Kuala Lumpur consists of the Kelana Jaya Line and the Ampang Line for easy and convenient travelling from one station to another within the respective transit line. The KL Monorail system consists of a single two-way line operating in the heart of KL, it links the tourists’ main attractions such as Bukit Bintang and Chow Kit.
Many international students reside in the on-campus hostel facilities. Rental in the hostels include water, electricity and internet connections. Units are fully furnished. Refrigerators are provided and the air-conditioned condominium units have washing machines for students’use. Students bring their personal toiletries and bed linen, which are also sold in the hostel convenience shop.
Some students choose to live in off-campus apartments or rented houses. Rented accommodation in Malaysia generally ranges in price from RM 200 for a basic room to RM 2,000 for a fully furnished apartment. Rentals depend on the location and standard of facilities provided. The average living (food and accommodation) costs per month for a student is around RM 1,500. Other costs depend on your lifestyle and habits where you may need to add (or minus) RM 200-300 per month as the case may be.