Choo Je Cuan’s long-term plan is to help expand and contribute to the scientific community in Malaysia. To do that, he plans to earn his master’s and PhD degrees in Germany – an academic powerhouse – before setting off to gain experience as a researcher.
The 23-year-old Malaysian is already halfway through this plan, having gained admission into an undergraduate programme at a German university with the help of German EduCare, a tertiary education specialist founded by a group of Malaysians who graduated from Germany with the hopes of providing other students the opportunity to study, live, and work in Germany. We speak to the molecular biology student at Bielefeld University to find out more about his experience there thus far.
How has studying in Germany impacted your life?
Studying in Germany has made me more independent, disciplined, and more responsible for everything I do. It has also made me change my way of thinking towards life and people. The self-determination and responsibility we learn when we live on our own can be complicated and hard – but it’s how we grow.
What are the things you miss most from home?
I really miss my family and food. To cure my homesickness, I will either Skype or Zoom with my family once a week, and sometimes I will call them in between if anything interesting happens that they should know about.
As for the food, I will usually cook at home, and it will usually be Asian-style cooking. Eating out is expensive, so it’s a rarity. To add to that, the Asian cuisine in Germany is catered to the German taste buds, which just does not do it for me.
What has your study abroad journey been like? Have you encountered any challenges?
This trip was when I first arrived in Germany all alone. I had to carry my own luggage, find out where to buy the train tickets, and check-in to a hostel for a short stay – all by myself and surrounded by people who did not really speak English.
Another challenging experience is the transition from finishing the language course and starting university life. I had to look for an apartment alone in a short period of time due to the delay in my university enrollment.
What was the biggest culture-shock moment for you?
The only thing that stood out in my mind was how the shops and stores are closed on Sunday – is that a thing in Europe?!
Where do you like to go most?
The spot I like to go to most would be the park with my friends, playing frisbee, or just hanging out there during summer.
How do you think the German Educare programme has helped you adapt to life in a new country?
It helped me to understand the culture of German universities, and it guided me through the university application. The team at German Educare also helped us well enough to be able to participate in all the courses conducted in German.
What are your recommendations and advice to others who want to take a similar path to yours?
I would recommend them to apply to universities that are not in big cities. That way, you will be able to better immerse yourself in German culture. It’s easier to get acquainted with professors and lecturers too. This will be very important to make your German university experience better. I would also advise keeping in mind that learning German is not easy, but patience and motivation will get you through it!
German Educare is a tertiary education specialist founded by a group of Malaysians who graduated from Germany with the hopes of providing other Malaysian students the opportunity to study, live, and work in Germany. To find out more, please visit germaneducare.com
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