Thursday, April 18, 2024
HomeEducation8 Things to Expect When Entering UPM (or Public University)

8 Things to Expect When Entering UPM (or Public University)

Coursemates, camera and monument. Unstoppable.

Hey there, I’m a new contributor around here. Hey-hoo, I bid to you hey-hoo! Well, I’m writing this as per requested by Mr. Sai Mun, one of the coolest teacher-cum-Jack-of-all-trades around. Well, I’ll be writing on what you expect when you enter UPM, and in general, other public universities in Malaysia.

First and foremost, let me introduce about myself so you guys out there will have a better viewpoint of where I am making my observations from. I am a 2nd year undergraduate student and my major is Industrial Chemistry, a course offered under the Faculty of Science.

There are other faculties that may be of interest to you guys out there, to name a few, Faculty of Medicine (this includes Veterinary Medicine, one of the two public universities in Malaysia offering such a course), Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication (Yeah, Mass Comm., it’s all here) and those who are interested in the field of business, Faculty of Economics may just offer the courses you’ll want.

The total number of faculties in UPM number up to 11, with a sister campus in Bintulu, Sarawak. Sooo, you can expect many of my observations and experiences to be based on the perspective of a science geek. Oh yeeeah.

To enter UPM, there are a few “routes” or entrance mechanisms, three more common ones are:

(i) Malaysian matriculation (I’m sure SPM students are aware of this, but if this is your first time hearing of it, it’s never too late to Google it up)
(ii) STPM (Danger, sit for it at your own risk)
(iii) Program Asasi (It’s a “fast track” program to enter public university, some as short as 8 months. A preparation program before starting of a degree)

Another prerequisite is that one has to sit for MUET (Malaysian University English Test) before application opens. All intakes to public universities are handled by UPU (Unit Pendaftaran Universiti) with the exception of USM.

Now that you know the surface, let’s take a deeper look, OKEH?


#1. Be ready to tinker with many aspects of your daily routines.
The most stark difference of university life as compared to living at home is that you have to take care of yourself entirely. No more Mums and Dads to pester you on a daily basis. Whether you can wake up for class on time, finish your assignments or even keep your room clean, are all based on your willpower and discipline. To top it off, there are extracurricular activities for you to juggle. Life gets more “real” in university. Fear not though, all first-year undergrads are in the same boat.

Still sleepy now?
Picture from

As one can already expect, the demography of students in public universities is skewed slightly towards a larger population of Malay students, and this is just the case over here in my place. So, one may face minor problems in adjusting to the lifestyle of the majority.

Keep an open mind, you’ll learn things you thought you never knew and at the same time, you can share the interesting attributes and qualities of your culture and beliefs to the majority. It’s a give-and-take, a cultural exchange. On top of that, you get to meet people from all walks of life, too.  

Coursemates aplenty. You’ll learn to work with all types of people from all backgrounds.

#3. Lecturers, lecturers, lecturers.
Lecturers, like us students, come from different backgrounds and from different majors. So, it’s safe to say that they are different in thinking, attitude and approach in handling students. It’s always important to know what the lecturer expects. Always ask him or her his or her expectations and aims for his or her class. Try to foster a close relationship with your lecturer, not only for tips on examinations (we all do this), but hey! an extra friend in life doesn’t hurt, right?

Some of my coursemates with our Organic Chemistry II lecturer,
Prof. Dr. Gwendoline Ee.
Picture property of W.H. Wai

#4. Sleep is a LUXURY.
Well, back when we are in secondary school, sleep seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. In fact, anyone will want to be OUT of the house instead of being IN the house. In university, sleep is hard to come by, especially one stays in the hostel (I’ve been staying in the hostel for close to 1.5 years now).

Why luxury? University life, although it’s great, is filled with lots and lots of assignments and work. If you are to score well, it means you have to complete lots of tutorials, revise a lot of lessons and if you are science student like me, lab reports are inevitable (2-3 hours per lab report, handwritten!)

No, it’s not as bad as it seems. When semester break comes along, you can sleep as long as you really want. It does get boring after a week of pointless sleeping during semester break. 😀

UPM is comparatively quite large in terms of size. Its buildings are sprawled throughout the campus. You have to walk (A LOT) to get from one lecture hall to another. This could only mean exposure to the harsh treatment of Mother Nature, from the scorching heat of a star called the Sun, to the howling winds of a tropical storm. Other than super-thick sunscreen lotion, an UMBRELLA works magic. MAAAAAAGIC I TELL YOU.

Picture from

#6. Green, green everywhere.
UPM is indeed popular for agriculture and orchard reserves. So, it’s not strange to see rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of trees. Almost every entrance to UPM is covered by canopies of tree branches. The best thing about studying in UPM if you love fruits is that, during fruiting season for tropical fruits such as rambutan, you can buy half a sack full for just RM 1. There are other fruits as well, such as durians. Some cheeky seniors eat the fruits in the orchard before coming out, and they don’t get charged even a cent for it. 😉

Did I mention cows too?
Picture from

#7. School study methods are no longer applicable
This applies to almost all university students. In school, the “read-memorise-regurgitate” method is highly favourable and reliable method to use. In fact, most of us employ this method in school. Unfortunately, university does not really employ the use of this method. In contrast, students are encouraged to apply out-of-the-box thinking instead of the usual 1+1=2 methods. In simple words, UNDERSTANDING takes precedence over GETTING THE RIGHT ANSWER.

Everyone, whether visitor or student, has to take picture with the monument facing the “Big Hall”/ Dewan Besar/ PKKSSAAS/ Panggung Kesenian dan Kebudayaan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. Quirky poses recommended. Most of UPM’s corporate videos and brochures feature this monument.A hot location for graduating students to have their photos taken here.

Coursemates, camera and monument. Unstoppable.

STPM results are to be released soon. So, now that you know, consider it an option in furthering your studies to an institution for higher learning!



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