April 23, 2013


In USM I had to follow 5 courses to achieve my 30 ECTS. I chose the following subjects: Malaysian economy; Malaysian studies; Islamic thinking and social changes; Gender, ideology and power; and Bahasa Malaysia (which is the Malay language). As you may conclude out of this sum up, my exchange was focused on Malaysian culture.3 of the 5 courses I took were given in the Malay language. As a result I expanded my Malay vocabulary  rapidly and I also had the opportunity to mingle more with the natives then other exchange students. Because of the fact I could choose the courses myself from so many interesting courses available. It was a joy to go to school everyday, most regular classes were quite big with about 40-70 students. The language classes were max 20 this was better to gain the actual experience practicing dialogues. Below I will give a brief explanation about my experiences with the courses.

Malaysian economy is obviously about the economy in Malaysia. This was the only subject which I needed to buy a book for. In all other classes, the teachers provide you with copies of books, and hand outs. The course consisted out of lectures, bi-weekly student group presentations which had to be in depth about a subject from the previous lecture, individual/group assignment, this assignment I choose the subject Islamic banking,  and final exam which consisted out of multiple choice and open questions. And ironically, being an business student, economics was the course I got the lowest grade for during the minor.

Malaysian studies was about, politics, culture, criminology, social systems, and a part economy as well. This class was quite interesting and many exchange students followed this course. It was interesting to me to learn about different aspects of Malaysia, the course consisted of continuous assessment which was measured by attendance and voluntary assignments, next to that there was 1 multiple choice mid-term exam, an individual assignment and a final exam which consisted out of multiple choice and open questions.

For the Islamic thinking and social changes class I had 3 different lecturers during the semester. In this class there were only 3 girls me included. So during that class we always sat in the lecturers office and we got drinks and food during class. With only the 3  of us we had a lot of time for discussions, personal stories and opinions, this often got Very personal which sometimes even ended up in us passing the tissues around to wipe our tears of compassion. During this class everyone had to prepare a presentation and a report for every lecturer, and the final exam consisted of open questions only. Because this was a philosophy class, the answer were never really wrong as long as you can justify your answer. In this period the three of us got very close and I still have contact with those girls every week now.

Gender, ideology and power was about the behavior patterns, division, differences and similarities between men and women in society and on the work floor. This course consisted of continuous assessment measured by attendance and class participation, weekly student presentations, individual or group assignment, and a final exam which consisted of multiple choice and open questions.

Bahasa Malaysia was the course of Malay language, the grade was an average of oral examination, oral presentation, listening test, and 2 writing tests. For me this quite easy because I already had some basic knowledge but it was nice to learn some business language.

In the end these were my grades: for 3 subjects I got a 10, an other 9 and for economy Malaysia a 7. Not bad right? When you have the chance to choose your courses during your minor choose them in the field of your interest, so you enjoy going to class and actually study, which in the end will result in some nice grades! 

USM Bus Route

For those who have been to USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia) or will go to USM as en exchange student soon, knowing about the bus route inside USM is necessary. This might be an unimportant post for most of you. I mean, who would post about bus routes? Especially, bus that only covers specific areas?
But this was quite important for me, because as an exchange student, bus is a necessary vehicle (besides walking on foot) to go around USM. So, without further ado, here are the bus routes:
This picture shows how big USM campus is, I got lost more then once.

PALAPES – Indah Kembara (hostel) – bus stop in front of Jabatan Keselamatan (Security Department) – DK S,T,U,V,W – Bakti Permai (hostel) – USM Hospital – SK I,II,III,IV/DK A,B,C – School of Languages, Literacy & Translation (SoLLat) – School of House Building & Planning (HBP) – School of Management (SOM) – Eureka – Fajar Harapan (hostel) – Indah Kembara- PALAPES
PALAPES – Indah Kembara (hostel) – bus stop in front of Jabatan Keselamatan (Security Department) – DK S,T,U,V,W – Bakti Permai (hostel) – USM Hospital – SK I,II,III,IV/DK A,B,C – Dewan Budaya/School of Arts – Eureka – Fajar Harapan (hostel) – Aman Damai I (hostel) – Aman Damai II (hostel) – Indah Kembara – PALAPES
PALAPES – bus stop in front of Jabatatan Keselamatan (Security Department) – DK S,T,U,V,W – Aman Damai I (hostel) – Aman Damai II (hostel) – Indah Kembara – PALAPES
Aman Damai II (hostel) – DK S,T,U,V,W – Bakti Permai (hostel)- USM Hospital- SK I,II,III,IV/DK A,B,C – School of Languages, Literacy & Translation (SoLLat) – School of House Building & Planning (HBP) – School of Management – Eureka – Fajar Harapan (hostel) – Aman Damai I (hostel) – Aman Damai II (hostel)
Note: the color of the bus is the color of the card in front of the bus, NOT the color of the whole bus.
Also, if you’re staying or will stay at either Desasiswa Restu, Saujana, or Tekun, there’s also a bus that goes around this mini hill so that you don’t have to walk up the hill on active school days. The route started at a bus stop after you cross the bridge from PALAPES to RST. The route goes like this:
Bus Stop (USM RST) – Tekun – Saujana – Restu – Bus Stop (USM RST)
There are only one kind of bus that goes through this route, so they’re all the same.

Because the earliest class starts at 8 in the morning, the bus should be available around 7.30. If there are no busses, then you should definitely enjoy the morning and walk to your class instead. Which is definitely enjoyable as u can see the sun rising above the trees and the buildings. I used to walk when I had early morning class as it wasn’t that hot yet. If you would walk at a later point of the day, you are at risk to arrive in you class room soaked in sweat. As for the last bus, it’s around 10 PM, so you should finish your errands before that, or take a student cab which are available on call and are very affordable.
Happy learning at USM!

April 16, 2013

HvA Student Laszlo on Exchange: Guangzhou and the Chinese Feather Ball

Week 5 in Guangzhou, China

by Laszlo Schenkhuysen

Guangzhou becomes home:

This week my roommates and I decided to stay at home. Last week we traveled a lot. That week consumed a lot of energy and made me wish for my bed a lot. It was that week in which I experienced for the first time that I missed Guangzhou and I missed my bed, it finally felt like I missed home. It was the first indication for me that our house in Guangzhou started to feel like coming home and that my bed actually was my bed instead of just a bed to sleep in. Because of that I have been spending a lot of time at home as well as enjoying the Guangzhou kitchen in the city as well. Since Guangzhou has the most restaurants in China we were very spoiled and picky about our food. It was amazing going back to the restaurants we were used to.

Since we have arrived in Guangzhou we had some nice weather. An average temperature of 24 degrees, a cool breeze from time to time but lately the rain season has started and we have experienced a lot of rain. This weekend however we had a clear blue sky with 27 degrees temperatures and decided to sit at the river with some drinks, music and a Chinese feather ball. 

Chinese feather ball:

The purpose of this game is to form a group and kick the ball into the air as many times as 

April 3, 2013

Journey to Penang

Before I went on exchange to Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang Malaysia, I had to a lot of preparations to do. The university application required a health declaration which included an X-ray, and blood test for a list of diseases like STD’s and other then that also drug use. I still don’t exactly understand why they needed all those results, even my doctor laughed about the list she checked and signed for me.

Next to the officially required preparations I had to prepare mentally as well. I decided to go to Malaysia because I wanted to learn more about my roots and to find more peace of mind while discovering about my culture and my religion, Islam. I saw this exchange as an opportunity to develop myself. I was always eager to learn more about the theological views on life and now I had to chance to mingle with people who could actually teach me more about it. I decided I wanted to start wearing the headscarf (hijab) when I went to Malaysia. So during my transfer in Dubai I went to the ladies room and took the scarf from around my neck and put it over my head to cover my hair. For me the time felt right and it was a safe place for me to experience this for the first time without judgmental opinions from 3rd parties. This was the first step to my internal and external changes I experienced during my exchange.

I arrived at Penang at 7 PM local time, which differs about 6 hour from where I came from. But the temperature difference was about 40 degrees, from the freezing -10 to 30degrees Celsius in the evening! It’s still very clear outside, didn’t really look like it’s evening already. But in less than an hour, it’s already dark. 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. Besidesme, they also picked up some other exchange students from Finland, Mexico, Indonesia, 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 Indonesian and Korean student, whom I knew as Oki and Bada, stayed at USM dorm.

Each dorm room was built for two students, so there were two beds, two desks, and two closets 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 half- Malay student like me, it doesn’t take a long time to adapt at Penang, because it’s not that different to when I have lived in Malaysia before.