Daniil Ivanov


Beginning of studies in USM

School life in Malaysia

We have now been attending school here in Penang for 1,5 months, and as funny as it sounds- next week is time for mid-term exams and after that a one-week mid-term holiday. Time has flown past so fast! But to be totally honest, it hasn’t been all easy and nice…

Our semester here started with three days of orientation including games, some information about the school and how it works, getting to know each other etc. What we really lacked was actual hands-on information about how to find different locations inside the huuuge campus area and how to step-by-step go through the registration process successfully. This is when we were left on our own. Trouble time!


In order to attend a course, one must choose an appropriate course that is allowed for exchange students, conducted in English and not happening at the same time with your other courses. Sounds easy, right? The part that nobody mentioned was that each course has two slots in your schedule weekly; the actual lesson given in the timetables and an additional tutorial class, which includes more group works, discussion, case studies etc. AND the timing of this tutorial class is a total surprise before you start attending the class.


So there goes all the work you put into planning your schedule, getting the correct amount of credits and trying to organize all your courses in a row of days in order to get so called long weekends for travelling. If this wasn’t sounding complicated enough, the timetables of the courses changed about four times during the first couple of weeks, changing locations of lectures, timing of them or just simply cancelling the whole course.

The next step was trying to reach every single teacher of every course you intend to take part in, getting their signatures and then getting the signatures of each of the Schools’ Dean Deputies, for example the signatures of the heads of the Management School and Social Sciences School. After this you deliver all the signatures to the offices, wait for couple of days for the approval, go to another office, where they log you in for the courses electronically so that the courses would appear in the school eLearning-system. Huuuuuuuh! Exhausted.


This process was so confusing, badly instructed and took in total 2-3 weeks. The employees of the university were totally lost as well and gave you mixed information to stir the soup even more. In the end, you end up missing some of the first lectures, walking tens of kilometres from office to office in the blasting heat and learning to appreciate the simplicity of Finnish School system. Did I mention that if you won’t finish this process in time, you are forced to pay money for every course you want to add or drop to/from your schedule?!

Anyways, since then we have learnt much and turned ourselves into somewhat normal students. Of course we still ended up being banned from library because my dress was 1 cm too short & Daniil was wearing shorts and burning our insides with the too spicy food just because we forgot to mention ‘less spicy, please’ and the list goes on.


So how have the courses been? Some quite simple, repetitive, slow or intended to students who have studied the subject much less that we have. On the other hand, some of them are demanding, having huge workload or being totally generalizing and not being based on facts. Still most of the lecturers have been rather kind to us exchange students and trying their best to learn from our cultures and trying to adapt us into the Asian ways of doing things.

So at the end we ended up having three days of school per week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We have the maximum number of courses that one may take, including:


-Service Operation Management

-International Human Resource

-International Management

-Environmental & Natural Resource Economics

-International Finance

-Strategic Marketing

This allows us to have plenty of time for traveling, but requires quite much work outside the school with all the case studies, group works, essays, presentations and so on. We will have total 14 weeks of studying, now being the week 6, and three weeks reserved for exams at the end of the semester, meaning January. School should be done and finished by the 15th of January. Let’s do this!!!



Ps. Cover Picture from Google Archives


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