Studying Abroad : Privilege or Necessity?

by - 7/07/2017 09:00:00 PM

This is going to be a bit of a rant. I'm usually really good at picking my battles but this time, I need to write this for myself and for anyone else who may resonate with this. Besides, this is my safe space - so fair warning, if you're easily offended, it's probably best to stop right here. That being said, I do love some good banter - comments are welcome. I hope that my meaning will not be lost or misconstrued, but just in case here is a disclaimer: I do not discriminate against those who plan to pursue or are currently pursuing their studies locally, be it in national universities or private colleges. This is merely a recount of my experiences and my opinion.

When I made my final decision to accept my offer to study in Australia, there was no fanfare, no announcement, I simply packed my bags, said my goodbyes to close friends, had a small farewell party with my family and left.

You might be wondering; why did I not say anything? Truth be told, I wasn't mentally ready for the comments that would follow. Things like: 'NJHL(你就好啦)', oh, you lucky girl, Wah rich lah that's why get to study abroad!

I'll be upfront about this. I never considered local(Malaysian) universities as an option, because the status quo is painfully obvious, which many have probably long been accustomed to and I was fortunate enough to have parents who were willing to pay for me to get my first tertiary qualification at a private college. I watched a friend attempt to get into local universities with her A-Levels and needless to say, she did not succeed. Another had to give up the idea of pursuing her studies locally simply because local Unis did not accept UEC results, so she took her search abroad and managed to obtain a scholarship to study here in Australia. These are just a few. Notable Malaysian talents like Dr Julian Tan and Dr Lam Shu Jie were, for the most part, rejected by Malaysian companies for scholarships and left the country to pursue their respective degrees too. 

But here's my real question: Why is studying abroad regarded as such a privilege and why are Malaysians who decide to leave the country regarded as liabilities?

Putting aside the obvious that there are a number of costs traditionally associated with studying abroad and the fear of venturing into the unknown, I don't see where the negativity regarding leaving the country is coming from.

To those that think so, I say this. Studying abroad (and wanting to migrate) does not necessarily mean I have a better life and it irks me when people think that is the case. Even for those with well-lined pockets, giving up the comforts of home can still be a struggle. Can it be considered an insult, then, by insinuating that all who study abroad are from wealthy families? Discounting the efforts of those who have studied hard to get into the university of their dreams; parents who have worked day & night and sacrificed sleep to with the desire to give their sons and daughters a good tertiary education they might not have had ; Siblings who have given up their opportunities in hopes that others in their family will have a better education and those abroad who live on a shoestring budget who are trying make every last penny count AND having to push for better grades to secure their future; or those that support themselves and have gotten here through their own hard work. What about them?

A stark difference I have noticed between Malaysian & Singaporean students (at the risk of generalization) is their response to the question: Would you stay in Australia after graduation? I'll leave it to you to guess who says what, but for one party, the answer is almost always: "Yes, If I can."

Sure, like many others, I left home in search of greener pastures; but please don't accuse me of turning my back on my home country, or say that I'm not brave enough to stay and fight for a better future when the system has obviously failed us. Please do not think I have my life handed to me on a platter just because I study abroad. It is an equally long and arduous journey that could probably turn out to be a failed investment and to stay, you constantly have to fight and prove your worth.

In a world so fragmented and divided as it is, why create more rifts? Until we have worked to dismantle systems of injustice on our home turf, it's useless to imply that those who do not stay are somehow lesser beings and have less to contribute.

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  1. Well i think both! Yes its a privilege and also necessary because some overseas university have high standard and quality education to guide and train graduate to be ready for their career not just a piece of certificate.

  2. Imo, it's not a necessity, but it's definitely great if one get to study abroad.
    After all it's not about paper chasing, it more about exposure & what life taught you throughout the journey.


  3. I think it's really a privilege. But it might be a necessity too.

  4. Do not worry about studying abroad. At the same time can learn independently and learn foreign culture. Good luck!

  5. All the best studying and living abroad. Wherever you are, it is always an experience.

  6. not sure what is the issue either, but yea I have heard many of those comments being thrown around..but for me back then was "why you don't want to study abroad?" apparently for my relatives who were more well-to-do than my parents looked down at those who did not study abroad...==

  7. Well yeah. That's the never ending issue we have. If I were you, I do choose to study abroad too. But well, I'm not trying to take other people side's. But yes. Some people have just been way too demanding and maybe some sort of a way saying, racistly or choosing people by their backgrounds in giving out the scholarships I guess? Hope you have a good time there. Since most people dream to study abroad.

  8. Well, I say, grab whatever opportunities that come your way. It is takes you overseas, well and good. If not, just make the best of things and hope for the best.

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