Frederikke after studying in Malaysia: 'This is something everyone should experience'
23-year-old Frederikke Greve Grouleff did her third semester at the University of Kuala Lumpur and is urging her fellow students to study abroad. ‘Do it! You will remember it forever,’ she says.
Already on her first day in the Asian metropolis, Kuala Lumpur, it dawned on the young Dane just how different everything was. After finishing a class, Frederikke took her bag, got up and left the classroom. But then she realised that everyone else got in line and either bowed or shook hands with the teacher. Frederikke was afraid that she had behaved disrespectfully by leaving the classroom the way she did.
These types of cultural differences became apparent several times during the 23-year-old’s Marketing Management semester in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.
As a white girl at a Malaysian university with predominantly Muslim students, Frederikke got a lot of attention. Something she managed with a smile.
'I have never met others that were so curious and cautious. But as soon as we all got familiar with each other, they were incredibly kind. One of the girls braided my hair during breaks and another invited me to her upcoming wedding,’ Frederikke says. She tried to fit in by dressing decently in long trousers, long-sleeved blouses and long dresses.
‘Your Danish life is completely put into perspective. After returning home I truly appreciate the freedom, rights and opportunities we have as Danish students.’
Good academic level and a great nightlife
Academically, it was easy for Frederikke to participate in class. She therefore had plenty of spare time to experience the Malaysian culture. Socially, she spent a lot of time with her two Danish roommates and fellow students from the Academy, Rune and Martin.
There were many other international exchange students at the University of Kuala Lumpur. Frederikke found four close friends - a girl from Paris, a girl from Germany and two girls from Pakistan.
‘On the weekends, we visited markets, went on shopping trips and had fun in KL’s nightlife. Kuala Lumpur’s many night clubs were amazing. I have never experienced anything like it,’ she says.
Lived like royalty
Things are much cheaper than in Denmark. Therefore, Frederikke could afford to stay at the five-star apartment hotel SETIA Sky. Here, she and her two Danish classmates shared a 4-bedroom luxury apartment on the 22nd floor for only DKK 2,500 per person per month.
For 20 DKK each they could eat a fulfilling meal at one of the neighbourhood's many street kitchens and restaurants. For transport around town they used Uber, which in Kuala Lumpur are very affordable for students.
‘In Asia, money goes a long way and we were therefore able to take some trips during the weekends and on public holidays. For instance, we visited Singapore, the Philippines and some Malaysian Islands.’
Frederikke financed her trip with savings and a travel scholarship from the Albert Nielsen and Anna Nielsen fund. Overall, the five-month stay cost Frederikke 20,000 DKK.
Learnt how to stand on her own two feet
The stay gave Frederikke a taste for studying abroad. Therefore, she is planning on taking some of her Bachelor's top-up in a foreign country.
‘On a personal level, the stay has made me way more independent. I have learnt how to handle different situations and stand on my own two feet. But, the thing I love the most about it all are my new acquaintances and the fact that my network has grown. To live in a country that is so different in every way has been an experience of a lifetime,’ Frederikke says and encourages fellow students to go abroad for a semester just as she did.
‘Do it. For God's sake, take advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad during your studies. You will remember it forever,’ she says.