Study Local or Abroad?

If you’ve been to any large family gatherings, chances are you’ve been “compared” to your cousin’s academically, both in terms of academic performance as well as university. To many Malaysians, sending their children abroad for their degree is something which many aspire to, mainly due to the stigma that overseas graduates are more capable and “worthy” than local graduates. As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.

But is this necessarily true?

Here are some common reasons people cited regarding the benefits of studying overseas.

> "One can gain valuable life experiences by learning how to be independent"

“It’s the perfect opportunity to widen your horizon and improve your language”

“Foreign universities provide better education, just look at the rankings!”

“Graduating from famous oversea universities give you a jump start in your career”

To be fair, here are some of the disadvantage of studying abroad (or advantages of local studies):

Studying abroad cost A LOT of money

I can stay closer to my friends and family

Again, those are the common pros and cons for studying abroad, each of them with a ring of truth to some degree. Interestingly enough, none of the pros and cons are in conflict with each other, as the general consensus is that while going overseas DOES indeed cost more, what you’re getting in return is a better education, and more importantly, the exposure to the world outside one’s comfort zone, and the accompanying growth of independence.

Now here’s the catch.

Most of these so called “pros and cons” are reflective of the perspective of the society, but never the student’s itself. In the midst of choosing the best overseas universities, people often forget that all these are merely opportunities, whereas the actual responsibility of absorbing the experience still falls onto the students themselves.

This begs the question:

Indeed, while studying abroad does provide students with the opportunity for exposure, it’s still up to the students to make the best use out of it. Some students study hard, while others party day & night. Which one’s gaining “most” out of the experience?

Then there’s the case of students complaining about their lecturers or being overwhelmed with work. To top it off, there are parents who’re constantly worrying about their child. Are they being treated fair? Do they have enough money? Are they stressed out? If not, they complain about the lecturer or education system.

It’s ironic. The reason the student is studying abroad is because they believe that the lecturer or education system can provide their child with higher thinking skills, yet the moment things go out of their comfort zone, they complain about unfairness.

Now think back to the top graduates that persuaded you to select this foreign university. Do you think their success came from education system that you complained about? Or was their success the result of their effort of learning from the experience given to them?


Of course, there are always exception. Some overseas universities DO have better education systems, with better lecturers and overall a better experience that will aid you in your studies. It’s also true that graduating from a well- known institution does give you an advantage when you step into the working world.

The question is, are these sufficient reasons enough for you to pursue your studies there? Or should you base your choice on how much you can gain from them? In that case, are local universities, of which you would find more comfortable and easier to fit in the culture and activities really that bad?

Is the grass always greener on the other side, or....

*Any opinions regarding the debate of studying overseas vs local?* *Feel free to share your thoughts below!*

I guess it’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side. But I like to think one of the main reasons people study abroad is the exposure that they get. Not that you can’t get that over here, but it’s more of cultural exposure I think?

Maybe, but then again I sometimes do wonder if the people themselves understand beforehand what kind of exposure they’re looking for, or just go in expecting exposure to happen :confused:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they are people who really seek to broaden their perspective, and do gain a lot more out of their overseas experience than any local options… but at the same time we can’t deny the existence of people who went overseas “just because”. Not sure which is the majority though

Well, if you were given the chance to go overseas to continue your tertiary education (without having to think about the expenses and cost of living) would you go? I guess some people would go just because they can. Or, just because they will be experiencing life outside of Malaysia and to travel, all while finishing up a degree! When you’re young it’s nice to travel when you can(or at least that’s how I feel about it).

On the other hand, they need to face different problems over here compared to us over here. They’ll need to adapt to the culture(especially if it’s outside of Asia), figure out the language(if they have a different one from their native language) and also deal with homesickness all at the same time. Not that we don’t experience homesickness while studying in Malaysia but away from home. :slight_smile:

Should we study aboard or locally?

I felt that studying aboard can grant you with an exposure which you could not get anywhere else. If you have the chance, you should probably try it out because you do not just immerse yourself in a new different culture, it trains several of your soft skills too.

If you have never been away from your family, I would really encourage a twinning program where you can get the best of both worlds.

You need to learn to be independent and responsible before studying abroad. The experience is rich but it is also costly. Hence, you should develop strong social and independent skills before flying.

Feeling homesick for a long time and feeling lost abroad might cost you money and time.