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My Experience as an International Student in IMU, Malaysia

03 Mar 2015

An international student at the International Medical University (IMU), Hovah Marie Emilie Leiticia is in her final year of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree. She shares with us her experiences as an international student at IMU in Malaysia. E7My late father’s favorite words were always: “Go to school, study hard and have a good future”. He, himself, did not have the opportunity of pursuing his studies and, as a child, my happiest moments were when I witnessed his genuine pride whenever I would bring ‘A’s home. As for my mother, being a French language teacher, she values education the most; I was always surrounded by books as from the age of 2. My parents were definitely the greatest influence and support in my life. Slowly, I became ambitious and developed this new thirst for learning and exploring. a dream that, at first, appeared quite difficult to achieve considering the fact that I was from a middle class family. Conceiving a dream was not enough; therefore, I worked hard and in 2012 and passed my A levels with distinction, obtaining my “passport” for university. E14 After all the excitement subsided, I found myself in a real turmoil. Where to go? Definitely, I wanted to go abroad but I never truly thought about the exact destination. At first, Malaysia was not the obvious choice. Everything changed when I found out more about IMU and its Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree from a University representative. I sat patiently listening as he described IMU, its facilities, values and provided more details about the course I was interested in. That same night, after doing more research about IMU, I decided that I would be more than happy to join the IMU family. Of course, there were other factors that also influenced my final decision, one of which was Malaysia’s multiracial community. Similar to Malaysia, Mauritius is a wonderful island where all races blend so beautifully together and I did not want to give up on that. E11 While growing up and sharing my life with friends from various racial and cultural backgrounds, I realised that there are so many things to learn from people, sometimes more than you may ever learn from books. I wanted to know how different races interact in Malaysia and acquire more knowledge on its amazing cultures. I have always loved science. My best grades were always in science and I was so convinced that I would be a scientist one day. It was not until high school, when I first entered a chemistry lab that it dawned upon me that what I really wanted to be was a chemist. The greatest influence I had at that time was my Chemistry teacher. He was so passionate about Chemistry and managed to instill that same passion in me. During my final high school year, I had to do a project on one specific branch of my favorite subject and that was when I discovered the wonders of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; I explored how chemistry could be applied to the science of drugs and how chemists are involved in the synthesis, design and optimisation of novel drugs. That was it! I had found my career path!’

E6This ultimate decision and undeterred motivation led me all the way to IMU. I am now in my final year. The past two years were definitely a roller coaster ride; there were a lot of new things I needed to adapt to: the food, the learning methods and environment, the language…It was not easy at first and there were times when I was just so tempted to give up.

I had the support of my friends, my classmates, IMU’s staff member, Ms May Kuan and my lecturers, especially Dr Srinivasan. Today, I am very grateful to all those people who kindly lent a helping hand when I was struggling so hard. They made my experience in IMU truly worth it. E13Within a few months, I felt at home; I enjoyed going to class, I enjoyed spending time with my classmates and most importantly, I enjoyed my course. I had fun working in the lab; over the two years I have been exposed to a wide range of equipment and facilities. Apart from the lab sessions, I also liked working in groups, sometimes with people from other courses; I find it useful because as scientists, we always need to work as a team. We were also encouraged to be more inquisitive, more interactive and open to discussion; these skills were strengthened through periodical PBL (Problem based learning) sessions. E12E18E20

As an IMU student, I definitely had a lot of work to do: reports, projects and assignments throughout the year. Most of my time was spent in the library but I also made it a point to enjoy extra-curricular activities. Some memorable ones are the Chariofare, the Divali Night and IMU Cup.

I also devoted a lot of my time volunteering in the organisation of events, the most recent one being the Joint Malaysia-UK Symposium on Natural Product Chemistry and Drug Discovery organised by IMU in association with the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry). Moreover, I still cherish the wonderful moments spent while visiting charity homes. Another thing I like about IMU is its constant input to the community. E15E17E16 I also got to spend time amongst people from various cultural backgrounds. While spending time with my classmates, I discovered more about the Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. I got to know and appreciate the differences.

I enjoyed the long holidays during the festivities and visiting my friends’ homes during the many festivals, especially, Chinese New Year. Moreover, I got to meet people from all over the world: Uganda, Nigeria, Gambia, Kenya, South Korea. It was amazing interacting with them and getting to know more about their countries as well.

E10When I first came to Malaysia, there were only a few places I was familiar with and all of them were located in Kuala Lumpur. I consider myself fortunate enough to have classmates and friends from all over Malaysia, some of whom kindly offered to be my personal guides and show me around their hometowns. In the past two years, I have been to Cameroun Highlands, the fairyland of strawberries and roses, Melaka, the historical hotspot of Malaysia and Bentong, the beautiful town that captured my heart. Having the opportunity to discover those places is amazing but what made them more memorable were the fun times and laughter I shared with my friends. As it is today, IMU has successfully carved itself a special place in my heart. I came with the intention of joining a new family and as a family, IMU watched me grow, cry, laugh and bestowed me with knowledge and so much more. Truly, my future is still unknown but definitely bright.

My many devoted lecturers in IMU has inspired me to go for postgraduate studies and my final year research project is already giving me an idea of what field I might want to pursue for masters and PhD. Indeed, IMU has gifted me with all the necessary tools; it is now my turn to make good and full use of them.”

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