Students Step Out of Comfort Zone in Semester Abroad Programme

September 19, 2022

The Semester Abroad Programme (SAP) is more than a trip overseas – it’s a learning experience! For students who hope to learn in a new culture and environment, this programme allows students to experience an academic semester in a university in another country, allowing them to soak up new culture and build new memories.

Dr. Athanasia Nointin, Academic Dean at INTI College Sabah (ICS), international exposure is a key component in preparing graduates for the future of the workplace. The SAP programme is open to students who are enrolled in the University of Hertfordshire (UH) business programmes at INTI, whereby they can spend one semester in UH in the UK.

“We understand that studying abroad is expensive, but because of our partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, our students can experience a semester studying in the UK at a local fee,” she said.

Dr. Athanasia continued saying that students must meet a set of criteria in order take part in the programme as there are only two opportunities per academic year, with limited seats available. The college had sent two students through the SAP programme in 2018 and 2019.

This year, Bernie Voo Jun Xiang and Loo Shi Yun Sylwin, were the lucky ones to join after the pandemic. While it was not their first time going out of Malaysia, the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Business Administration 3+0 programme in collaboration with University of Hertfordshire students said the experience of studying abroad was nevertheless a game changer. Their time from January to May gave them knowledge that went beyond the classroom

According to 22-year-old Bernie, who is from Penampang, he felt privileged to have the opportunity to meet new friends from around the world.

“The new friends I made at UH helped me in so many ways there, and they really opened up my eyes on how things are done in their own countries,” he said, adding that he also managed trips to other countries during his stay as well.

According to Bernie, the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Business Administration that he enrols allows him to understand business operations and any number of organisational and management techniques. Besides that, he wanted to increase his exposure to the culture in Europe motivates him to apply for the SAP.

Citing his interest in exploring the culture in Europe as the motivating factor for applying for the SAP, Bernie advises other keen students to keep an open mind and to be more of an extrovert when in a new environment. He said one of the biggest differences he saw was the way lecturers in the UK taught – they expected students to review lecture slides before class.

Meanwhile, for 22-year-old Sylwin, the SAP programme gave her a break from her routine during the pandemic.

The eldest daughter of three siblings claimed that she applied for the semester abroad programme because she wants to step out of her regular routine due to movement control order during the pandemic.

“The programme helped me to conquer my fears and doubts, and has increased by confidence as I’m experiencing everything first-hand,” said Sylwin, who is the eldest of three siblings.

She reminds other students interested in the SAP to be proactive as well as mentally prepared. Sylwin and Bernie also considered themselves fortunate to have scored a scholarship from UH, which helped support their expenses during their time abroad.

For them, having one semester abroad teaches them about stepping out of their comfort zone, embracing new culture and way of life, and coming home with unforgettable memories. It is also one of the most powerful ways to advance academically, improve one’s resume, and connect with the world on a deeper level.

Dr. Athanasia Nointin, Academic Dean at INTI College Sabah (ICS), believes that international exposure is a key component in preparing graduates for the future of the workplace.

Bernie Voo Jun Xiang said the semester abroad programme allowed him to visit Malaga City, Spain, over semester break.

Bernie Voo Jun Xiang (fourth from left) in a group photo taken during a Frisbee competition with university friends in the UK.

Loo Shi Yun Sylwin posing at Westminster Bridge with a view of the Thames River and London Eye in the background.

Four months in the UK allowed Loo Shi Yun Sylwin to explore the most beautiful places during her semester abroad.