The basics
Malaysia: Before you leave

5 Hours Away from Home

home and away


Beginning this September will be the dawn of my second year at Universiti Sains Malaysia; pursuing a degree in Pure Chemistry, something I’d wished for since I was in matriculation. Looking back at how it all began, brought me back to my first week in USM - Orientation and Kem Pimpin Siswa (a camp made compulsory for first year students). ‘Rough’ and ‘tough’ were the only two words I have to describe the terrible yet memorable experience I had in the camp, let alone the muddy training tracks, late night jungle tracking and sleepless nights.



Lectures began right after a week of orientation, occupying the majority of my time every weekday besides having to attend tutorial classes and approximately 3-6 hours of practical work per week. As Chemistry students in USM, we are encouraged to register for industrial training in any of the listed companies at the end of our second year. As for the final year in the three years degree programme, we will be given the opportunity to conduct experiments on a research topic given by respective supervisors; like being research scientist for our final year project. These are the things I am totally looking forward to!



I stay in one of the furthest hostels in USM, the RST complex; and when I say furthest, it meant I’ll have to take two different buses on campus to travel from my hostel to the lecture hall. Unless you are really special, that you have an official USM sticker on your vehicle; then you’re allowed to drive on campus. If you don’t, then you will have no other choice but to walk or to take the bus. So that was when I started to learn how to travel to class every morning and to make sure I’m not late for class. No doubt, it was really challenging, but I slowly got the hang of it.


If you think cooking would be something we, as USM students would do besides studying, then you’re probably wrong. We are not allowed to cook in our hostels; apparently none of the cooking appliances are permitted to enter hostel grounds. Thus, what my friends and I usually do on a daily basis is to scout for good food around our campus, come out with plans and head out to try ‘em. Well, why cook when the all the scrumptious Penang food are awaiting for us to taste?



If you want to brush up your soft skills or learn things that are not available in your textbooks, then you should probably join a club, be part of an organising committee or simply sign up for any of the workshops available on campus. To be honest, joining events on campus was initially to collect adequate amount of MyCSD to secure a place in a hostel for my undergraduate studies, however, after joining an organising committee for an event held last month, I found it to be very fulfilling. It’s worthwhile having part of my semester break holidays spent on campus to play a part in this meaningful event.



A vast majority of students encounter problems of adapting themselves in university. It can be that you find it hard to cope in your studies, or you can’t find a proper sleeping pattern and is always late for class or even being homesick. Well, you’re not alone! Everyone faces similar problems at times of life but if you share your problems with those who cared for you like your friends and family, you’ll overcome it in no time. Trust me :)



Please visit Short Square's Study Guide for other blog posts by Yvonne.

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About Author

home and away

Having been dreaming of becoming a scientist (Chemist) in the near future, she tries her very best to excel in her current education. She has completed her Malaysian Matriculation at Penang Matriculation College in April 2011. Thankfully, USM had offered her a chance to pursue her first Bachelor Degree in Pure Chemistry which started in September 2011. She is now a 2nd year student in Pure Chemistry. Her dream to become a scientist has just begun.


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