Orang Putih’s guide to surviving finals in Malaysia

So… it felt like a breeze! I’ve just arrived in Malaysia from Europe, barely found myself a room to rent, went for the Fresher’s week in the university…. And suddenly it’s exams time! How come!

The truth is, because somehow the time felt so different, I was just doing the minimum of the required work for the course. I’ve spent most of the time exploring kopitiams, going for road trips with my friends and getting to know the geckos living on the wall of my room. There was just so much to explore in Malaysia! And everything felt so exciting!


And suddenly… Everyone starts talking about exams and comparing notes, while I’m in the middle or planning my trip to Langkawi. Ahh, exams, what to do!

Here are a couple of things I wish I knew about the exams period in Malaysia. Take my word for this, it’s all true!

Suddenly there’s so much happening on Fb, Snapchat and Insta


You know these pages, “XX Uni Confessions”? It’s crazy, but they get so many new posts right before and during the exams. Like, how is this even possible? And of course, you’ve got to catch up, coz some of the info is seriously hot. So during the revision time, you will have to split your time into actual learning and catching up on your Malaysian friends’ activities. It’s not that easy! Especially that most of the updates are posted late at night o_O

Mamak is the place to be


I’ve never ever thought that I would be spending so much time in a fast food restaurant (well, mamak is essentially a fast food place, right?). Now I know why some of the campus mamaks are open 24/7! Somehow, I’ve managed to learn the whole chapter of “Introduction to Management” during a session of 2 teh tarik. It’s got to be some magic, because learning in a mamak is just so much more efficient for me than learning in my room!

Take good notes – thank me later


The way professors supply the books and exam info in Malaysia was a pleasant surprise for me (ok, I can only talk about my university, actually). By the end of the semester I was ending up with tons of useful textbooks and white papers, and the professors would just give them for free or send them through email. That’s so nice of them! But also, in terms of taking notes – most of my classmates were just relying on the PowerPoint files and textbooks, while I’m into personally written Evernote notes, taken during lectures.

And you know what? Because people knew that I had so many notes, they came to me to ask if I could share them and… paid for my canteen lunch instead. I’ve saved so much on food – thanks to my notes!

Seems like nobody ever sleeps!


Ok, so I’m studying. Chapter 7, it’s 3:20 AM and I decide to take a bit of rest and check Facebook. And guess what – everyone is there! I mean, they are available. And I’m receiving Snaps from my mates at 4 AM. But on the next day… nobody looks like a zombie at all! How do you do it, you crazy Malaysians?

Help from the above


Something completely new for me was when a day before the exam, my friends would go to the mosque or temple and pray for good grades. I didn’t even know you could pray for such an intention! I’ve got to try that next time, maybe it could help?


Zuzanna Ch
World traveller, but with the heart stuck in Malaysia.