Student experiences - Malaysia

Jonathan Lim - MEng Mechanical Engineering

I had never been to the UK before coming to Bristol and knew little about the city and culture. When the time came to travel to Bristol I was excited but also nervous. As I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads train station I was relieved that student ambassadors were waiting for me as part of the meet and greet service. They were really helpful with providing information, ensuring that I had everything sorted and knew what to do next.

Now that I have settled in I am really enjoying my course, Mechanical Engineering. The lectures are interesting and the lecturers and technicians are helpful. We have a wide array of optional projects and activities available, from designing solar charging stations, building wind turbines, robotics and building a racing car. 

The University has a compulsory industrial mentoring scheme for engineers. This has helped me understand more about the career paths available and provided me with the opportunity to network with engineers in various industries. The Careers Service helps organise internship opportunities and provided me with many tips for building and writing a good CV. These activities are helping me to make a more informed decisions about my future and shaping my career.

 Ai Ching Goh - BSc Psychology

Ai Ching Goh2005 - What an amazing year! The year started off when I worked to fundraise to get to Borneo, Malaysia where I did a 10 week expedition with Raleigh International. Among the highlights were, Mount Kinabalu (highest peak in South East Asia where you get to watch an amazing sunrise above the clouds), scuba dived and saw turtles, cleaned beaches (not a highlight, I must say), taught English at a village, saw elephant poo but not the elephants, and survived malaria and leeches! A great plus point to that, I learnt how to pronounce Bris-ol, knackered and “wa-er bo-el” even before I came here!

Following the 10 weeks with English mates, I have been expecting some typical behaviour like students spending their student loans on nights out, tea at the oddest hours of the day, the Queen’s English that I find difficult to imitate, appealing British music and their obsession about the weather. At the Fresher’s Fair, I was drawn to the stalls like bees to honey (somebody was so right to tell me not to bring so much cash as joining fee). By the end of the 2 hour search, I finally settled on yoga, meditation, SCA (Volunteering), Skydiving, and AIESEC (Student run organisation dealing with internships), and I am still into it! Oh, and what a mistake I would make if I didn’t come to Bristol for its vibrant student life; Never-ending student nights at the local clubs, gigs and the list runs on. I do not believe that any other university has got more clubs and societies than we do!

Life isn’t just limited to Bristol when you come here. I have been to Cardiff on a social event, Loughborough for an AIESEC conference, Nottingham to visit a friend, London and Manchester to visit friends, and I am going to Glasglow for yet another AIESEC conference! During Christmas, I was staying at a friend’s place at Italy for a month and went travelling. This is a good way of defining the word strategic!  There was never a huge fuss about Halloween’s in Malaysia. For the first time in my life, I went to 4 Halloween parties which were ALL amazing. I’ve also watched a Christmas production called “Scrooge.” Coming up next will be a football match and a concert.

I absolutely love the mix of students here. Most people I have met have done gap years and have impressed me with their own interesting story to tell. I guess this is why they brand Bristol students “alternative” i.e. more culturally and globally aware. We see lots of campaigns in the university and it reflects so much on the students here. I have faced any major problem here, even the weather gets quite bearable after a while but money! Of course, part time jobs are plentiful in a student city so we have no excuse not to party!

My experience with the lectures has been a pleasant one so far, the university has a good policy of maintaining a personal relationship with the students with an excellent feedback system and tutors. We have good up-to-state facilities and it is never too early to say something about academics, but I am sure these lecturers know what they are saying and you will never feel like it’s the wrong university to come to! I still have 2 years to go but I know of final year students who are trying so hard to prolong their studies here by post graduate studies because they love their life in Bristol so much! Bristol really has a lot to offer; it’s really up to you to come and grab it!

Azri Ansari - MEng Aeronautical Engineering

Azri AnsariUniversity of Bristol has continuously built its own reputation and popularity throughout the years and therefore it was not hard for me to find information about the university during my application. The University’s own website is a good start on finding basic information on courses and university life. As well as this, the University's Student Union website provides an alternative prospectus, which is worth reading through. Independent websites on the internet provide a different point of view of the University and are also a good source of information. However when I wanted more information I emailed the International Office as well as my department and both were more than happy to help me.

I chose to study at Bristol without knowing much about the city. However upon arriving I did not see a reason to not like it! Even the weather did not throw me off! The main reason I chose this university is due to its admirable international reputation in the Aeronautical Engineering field. As for my course, what I enjoyed most is how the theories that are taught in the lectures can all be applied when we are doing projects and lab experiments. This means that students can apply what we've learnt into the ‘real life’ and it certainly helps with the understanding of the subject. The course does however has its tradeoffs – as workload increases throughout the year, a good night's sleep becomes more of a privilege than normality and sadly you will spend more time with the computer than with your friends!

For students considering to study at the University, I would say that Bristol is not a big city in comparison to London or Birmingham and does not have the hustle and bustle of a big city but still has its own life and identity. My second advice is that Bristol is a very hilly city and the best way to go about is to walk- be it from Stoke Bishop which is 45 minutes away! So, don't feel bad if you're already out of breath after 50m up Park Street because you won't be the only one. My final advice would be - Bristol; the city as well as the University is a very diverse place and you will find out a lot of new things along the way. Thus, the best way to make the most of this is to be open minded about it and try to enjoy the ride as much as you can.

After my degree I am hoping to work for an aircraft company such as Airbus or Boeing here in the UK. However, I also have a dream of one day to be working as an engineer for a Formula One company – preferably McLaren Mercedes! My degree will hopefully point me in the right direction and prepare me with the knowledge needed for me to pursue my goal.

I decided to get involved with the Ambassador scheme because I feel that it is important for international students – old and new, to be able to obtain information or advice from the point of view of fellow international students. Therefore, having been an international student for four years before I arrived at the University, I feel that I could share as well as gain some experience by joining the Ambassador's scheme. The scheme is also a very good way to make some extra money through out the year. The aspect that I enjoyed the most working as an International Ambassador is the chance to interact with different people from all parts of the world. I also enjoy giving tours around the University for prospective students. The working hours for the job are very flexible and therefore it suits any timetable – be it an engineer or an arts student!

Brian Geh - MSci Physics

Brian Geh2006 has seen big changes in my life. I've went from looking forward to enjoying a gap year to be in a last minute rush to enter university after I received my A level results.

The year before, in 2005, while I was filling up my UCAS application form, I was faced with the choice of selecting 6 universities to be entered into the form out of the many that were available in UK. That’s how I started reading about the University of Bristol. It was one of the top universities in most of the league tables I had checked in the UK. It was situated in a medium sized city (relative to London and Birmingham), and had a lot of history behind it. The university also had produced 2 Nobel Laureates in Physics, which is the course I’m currently taking. At the time, I also read about the student life in Bristol which was very vibrant(and that’s certainly true now that I’ve experienced it) which made me decide to apply to the university.

Due to the last minute nature of my acceptance of the offer to read Physics in the university, I didn’t receive much information on what to expect other than information that was available on the University’s website. As such I came to Bristol with few, if any expectations on what I would see in the city and the university.

When I arrived in Bristol, the first thing I noticed was its exceptional scenery. Wide open spaces and parks, unlike the concrete jungles of the Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia), which is where I come from. This perception of Bristol was reinforced when I spent my time exploring the area around the university in the next few days. I visited local landmarks in Bristol such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which is about 150 years old and across the bridge lies Ashton Court, a large estate open to the public with  bike trails and a deer park and where the city council holds events such as the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta during summer.

For most people, their first impression of the University of Bristol is getting up Park Street and seeing the Wills Memorial Building at the other end of it. I’ve seen the building plenty of times on the university’s website, but this was altogether a different experience.

Being an international student did have its ups and downs. There was the initial culture shock, adjusting with the different accents, but I’ve largely adapted to it now. It’s a wholly different way of life compared to the one I lead in my home country, Malaysia, and I’d say that it is much more fun with lots of parties and balls every few weeks or so.

The lectures here are very interesting and they are usually accompanied by lots of demonstrations. For example, one of our lecturers had set up 2 dartboards which had their colleagues’ faces pasted on them and he then invited us to throw darts on to the dartboards. There was also another lecturer who used bicycle wheels and even a mini cannon to illustrate the concept that he was trying to get across to us. The lecturers are also very helpful and they will reply to any questions, be it right after lectures or via the university’s email.

Overall, the university has something special for everyone, for the adventurous and people who love nature and physical activities, there’s the rock climbing society and the bike trails, for people who just like a lot of fun and parties, well you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed by the parties held by the students here, and even for the studious, you will find lectures to be stimulating and very interesting.

Eve Cheah - BSc Mathematics and Philosophy

Eve CheahThe decision to come to Bristol was definitely an easy one. As one of the highest-ranked universities in England to offer my course, how could I go wrong? Despite the fact that I had never visited Bristol prior to starting university there, I was confident I would enjoy it, and I was not wrong.

The city is amazing, with everything I could have hoped for: bustling, modern and cosmopolitan, but not without its share of greenery and picturesque views, such as the Downs or the Suspension Bridge. The size of the city is perfect:  big enough to get lost in, busy enough to make sure you’re never bored, but small enough to feel comfortable in, unlike, for example, London.

Living in Stoke Bishop came as a bit of a shock to me initially when I did the 40-minute walk into the university precinct for the first time. However, I can honestly now say that I do genuinely enjoy the walk; it provides an excellent form of exercise, and it’s the perfect way to wake up in the morning (although it can get quite miserable depending on the weather!). Moreover, the Stoke Bishop halls are all very close, so there is always someone around to keep you company.

I am also very much enjoying my course. The Mathematics part of my degree is challenging but suitably rewarding. Philosophy is very different to anything I’ve ever done before, and the contrast between the two subjects keeps the work routine from being too tiresome or tedious.  I’ve found I’ve also adapted well to the education system in university; lectures are intense work, while tutorials provide easy access to help.  Unlike in school, you are expected to do quite a lot in your own time; it encourages independence and is so much more satisfying.

So far, I absolutely love my new life in Bristol. The opportunities offered are endless; countless societies to join and new activities to try. Having spent the last 3 years in an English boarding school, the culture shock was not that great to me. However, the diverse backgrounds of everyone here contribute even further to the Bristol experience.

They say your university years are the best of your life; and here in Bristol, surrounded by new friends who share the same eagerness to work hard and play hard in this fantastic city, I fully expect that by the end of my time here, I will agree.

Esther Goh - LLB Law

 Picture of Esther GohI have just completed my first year at the University of Bristol. On the surface I chose Bristol because of its excellent ranking and its record of producing intelligent scholars but since being here I have learnt that an excellent university is so much more than grades and ranks. It really comes down to the quality of teaching that comes from the lecturer-student relationship. The lecturers here are amazingly down-to-earth and it has been said many times by many professors that “There is no such thing as a stupid question”. Most lecturers would really go the extra mile to help the students achieve all that they want to and yet still be able to help them with personal problems. THAT is inspirational, and what I desire to become if I should ever join the academic ranks of a university.

Bristol is definitely the quaintest and simplest city I have had the privilege to study in. The scenery is stunning and can be enjoyed simply by taking an affordable bus ride on a sunny afternoon. The greenery is plentiful and long walks along the parks are a definite must here. The pace of life is slow but steady and everyone moves with a purpose and goal. This is stark in comparison with the rat race pace that all university students experience all around the globe. Being from Malaysia, where it is so culturally diverse, I was worried that being in a new country and culture would alienate me and make me feel uncomfortable. Rather it was the contrary. The people here are generally friendly and I have never felt isolated or pushed aside because of where I came from or the colour of my skin. More than that, I felt like I was accepted for who I was, as a person rather than anything else. I truly believe that an excellent university should breed this kind of environment – and the University of Bristol is definitely one. I really couldn’t have asked for a more suitable university for me and I’m really glad I chose the University of Bristol. So here I am looking forward to a better, more exciting year ahead.

Latonia Joibi- MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering with Management

Latonia JoibiI first decided to find more information about Bristol University when I was researching universities for my UCAS choices.  The UCAS website provided concise and helpful information which was easy to access day or night.  I would recommend it to anyone looking to study in the UK, especially its section on available courses.  Out of my six choices, most were predominantly London based universities yet upon receiving advice from family and friends and reading articles online, I discovered that not only is life hectic in London but it is also expensive (not exactly what a student wants, or at least not what I was looking for).

After looking at Bristol Universitiy’s website,  I fell in love with the course that they ran and the beautiful scenery of Bristol (the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton Village, Durdham Downs and the Wills Memorial Building to name a few).  The people who greeted me when I arrived in Bristol were nothing short of  warm and friendly and the students were more than welcoming.  They were always willing to answer my questions and explain anything I did not understand.  By the end of fresher’s week, I had made a lot of friends that have stayed with me through my time at university.  Throughout the year, my course content has been flexible and easy to follow.  My lecturers have been always been available and willing to help students with their course.  The thing I love most about Bristol is that when the work seems overbearing, I can take a deep breath and take a stroll through Bristol’s beautiful scenery which is on my doorstep then suddenly, the workload seems to be put into proportion and I can continue at my own pace. I really enjoyed my first year at university and I look forward to returning next term to carry on with my studies.

Nicholas Phan - BSc Economics and Management

Nicholas PhanI first left Singapore to pursue higher education at the age of 16, where I joined Winchester College as part of the Sixth Form. It was pretty soon after that I was riddled with University choices.  Amongst informal discussions with my friends and formal discussions with my teachers, the University of Bristol dominated as the university for me.  It was widely praised for its excellent academics, while allowing students to maintain a healthy social life with what the city of Bristol had to offer. At first, I thought that these viewpoints may have been biased, but a trip with my younger brother to Bristol one weekend changed everything.

Since our arrival at Bristol Temple Meads, everything was fantastic. There were bountiful food parlours, ranging from top-end restaurants to small takeaway shops, together selling a variety of food from the far-east to the west. During the day, we were able to explore the many shops that decorate the city’s streets, and by night we observed (as my brother wasn’t 18 yet!) people flocking to busy night clubs and pubs. 

Touring the University’s grounds was also worthwhile; the buildings seemed old yet majestic. Will’s Memorial literally and figuratively stood out from the City. It was also easily noticed that the University had a diverse range of students, something that I felt was important for any prestigious university.

It was this short weekend that made me believe Bristol was right for me. I quickly put it down as one of my University choices, and later on accepted the University’s offer for me to study Economics and Management, a course that I was highly interested in. To this day, the University and the City have yet to disappoint me. A world-class education in a course I’m interested in and a very healthy social life with my peers – the perfect balance achieved. Does it get any better?

It does. In November 2007, I had heard that the University has offered my brother a place in this University. This place just gets better and more interesting.

Boon Seng Pui - BSc Economics, Finance and Management

Picture of Boon Seng Pui

Coming from Malaysia, the first thing I have to say about Bristol is that the climate was a far cry from the hot and humid days I was used to. Walking around no longer involved the risk of perspiring and the air was a tad fresher than back in the city. My first impression of the University of Bristol was awe. I could not help but admire at the Wills Memorial Building - to me it was a perfect blend of history, functionality and beauty which symbolizes the University. The array of buildings on campus gives character and history. From small quaint houses to architectural marvels, the University of Bristol has it all. The facilities are top notch and anything you need will be available but the best part for me is that the University is located in a wonderful city. Bristol is a combination of urban and pastoral life as pockets of nature interrupt the pattern of buildings. The graffiti at Nelson Street is something to admire and the music scene is rich with various artists performing all year round. The nightlife is also not to be missed as Bristol has numerous bars and clubs to let loose and dance. If I had a favourite part of Bristol it would be Clifton Village for its mixture of small cafes and shops. However, the best part of the University of Bristol for me is the people. It was great to meet such friendly people as I learned about a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds. I joined the Students′ Union society AIESEC which presented me with numerous opportunities as I met a few good mates and travelled around England. Each day my life at University of Bristol gets better and better. I can’t wait to see myself at the end of my journey here.

Nur Nabila Abdul Rahim - MBChB Medicine

Nur Nabila Abdul RahimEver since deciding to pursue a career in medicine, the University of Bristol has always been my destination of choice. This preference was based upon opinions of my friends and college counselor, many of whom had very nice and positive things to say about the University and the city itself. Even after receiving conditional offers from two other established medical schools, I still had my mind and heart set on Bristol.

The scenery is breathtaking, the people are friendly, what more could I ask for? The city itself is very unique, something I was not convinced of at first. But when I had friends coming to visit me, none of them failed to tell me how very lucky I am to be living in such a picturesque city. I find peace by strolling in the many gardens that Bristol has to offer, particularly Royal Fort Garden and Brandon Hill. Many people complain about Bristol being hilly, but I see that as an advantage as I get a pretty good workout simply by walking to lectures.

Initially the thought of enrolling in a medical school of a prestigious university overwhelmed me. The education system here is indeed very different from my home country and I had to adjust myself in order not to be left behind in my studies. Thankfully I get along just fine, and strangely enough I find the course rather enjoyable! What I particularly find appealing about the course is the early exposure to clinical life, where I have to go visit patients’ homes and talk to them. The integrated system of teaching also allows me to think outside the box and to incorporate different elements in my studies.

Along the way, I have made some good friends, not just the locals, but other international students as well. Ever since I got here (which is only three months ago), I have had the chance to travel to Manchester and London, and will soon be making my way to Nottingham and Warwick. I travelled to Italy during my winter holidays and plan to visit Belgium, Czech Republic, and Spain during my Easter break. Now how is that for making the most out of my university life?

Wee Sim Khor - MBChB Medicine

Wee Sim KhorUniversity of Bristol was recommended to me by a doctor and a dentist, both of whom I know personally. In pursuit of quality world class education of standard, I sought help of my Pre-University Director, who likewise suggested that Bristol was indeed a well thought choice for medicine. I find myself here today with no regrets and would even go to lengths to suggest that Bristol should always be a choice when applying via UCAS.

I was always worried how different studying in the University would be. A lot has been said about the method of teaching, how it would differ from Malaysian schools where we were always spoon-fed with information, examination questions, spot questions and even how we ought to study. I found myself at home in Bristol, loving the way I am being thought, a traditional style of teaching whilst allowing room for many questions which I have sought answers to from my lecturers, the internet and the very resourceful medical library.

Back in Malaysia, I was a very outgoing person and would always find myself far from home after the sun sets. There was some concern to whether Bristol would have any clubs or night life (as Bristol is no London). I found out very soon upon arrival that there should be no concern at all. Bristol is laden with clubs and night life. It is always exciting and there is a variety of clubs to choose from. Above all that, it is a beautiful place as well. Bristol gives the best of both worlds – a city, yet being laid back – it allows me to study if the exam is a week away or choose to have fun on my weekends if I am unable to find my exam date within the same month on my calendar.

If I was given an opportunity to mend my UCAS application, I would change all my choices but Bristol. The only mistake I made about Bristol was the uncertainty when putting it down. Now that I am here, I see that I have made the right decision on my University for the next five years of medical study. It is a wonderful place to be, with quality education, a great resourceful library, helpful lecturers, astounding research and great facilities. What’s there not to like?

Angeline Lee - MBChB Medicine

Beatrix Charissa Tan - MBChB Medicine

Kent Kian Xsim Khor - BSc Economics and Finance Kent Khor

The leap from college in Malaysia to the University of Bristol was an odd experience for me for many reasons. Being a gap year student meant that I came to Bristol without most of my friends and family I spent half my life with. Indeed it was a huge step; but it turned out to be the best step I have ever taken.

My first impression of Bristol was a strange one. Firstly it is rich with buildings from the 15th and 16th century which were architectural beauties. A few minutes into Bristol and one would then realize how big a city it actually is. The University itself is riddled with a great mix of modern and traditional architecture. The Wills Memorial Building is only the tip of the iceberg. The Victoria Rooms and Royal Fort Gardens do leave lasting impressions.

More importantly, the University of Bristol is an ever evolving research institution. Being a member of the Russel Group, the University has high teaching standards with dedicated lecturers who are constantly updating the course materials following developments in the financial world. Being an economics student, my course is heavily mathematical and at the same time intuitive. Long lecture hours are backed by tutorial groups of no more than 10 students where close attention can be given to the students by experienced tutors hence encouraging discussions and promoting ideas which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The University has countless societies from almost anything one can think of. The Investment Society which I am involved in gives good insights into trading and also bringing one closer to employers. Seeking a challenge I also got involved with the University of Bristol Amateur Boxing Club which besides the killer trainings are amazing fun. There are quirky societies like Wine Circle, Massage Society and even Harry Potter society just to name a few. When I miss home, I would just attend the Malaysian and Singaporean Society events for some great food!

Finally, what makes a University great is its students. The students at the university are ambitious and fun to be around with. Certainly what Bristol gives that no other university can match is its good balance in the diversity of its students which adds to the experience here. The University of Bristol offers a unique platform for one to shape their career. Ultimately, it is only up to you to grab it.

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