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International Student of Month for December, Hannah Abdul Ghaffar

Each month, Office of International Students and Scholars introduce one international student by presenting their cultural background, personal experience in both home country and U.S. It is our hope that this mini introduction will help Lehigh community to have a better understanding of the international students and scholars on campus. We encourage every student to participate in this activity. If you would like to be featured, send your message to intnl@lehigh.edu.

This month, ISS Graduate Assistant, Aftan Baldwin, interviewed Hannah Abdul Ghaffar, an exchange student from University Technology of PETRONAS, Malaysia. The following is the interview and pictures that Hannah with us.


Q: First, would you briefly introduction yourself? Tell me what you are studying at Lehigh and when you will graduate.

A: My name is Nurul Hannah Abdul Ghaffar, but people prefer to call me Hannah because Nurul is very hard to pronounce. I am an exchange student from University Technology of PETRONAS, Malaysia. Back in my home university, I am doing major in Petroleum Geoscience, but in Lehigh, I am being put under Earth and Environmental Sciences’ Major. Well, I have long way to go till I graduate. I hope I’ll be finishing my undergraduate programme in 2014.


Q: What do you think about Lehigh? Like the campus, the dorm, the courses...

A: Having the opportunity to be in Lehigh for a very short period of time has made me appreciate so many things about life. :

  • The environment: Lehigh is indeed an ideal and conducive place for learning purpose. It has a very calming environment, away from the hustle of the city, and many beautiful ancient buildings.
  • The dorm: I live in Drinker, and I have everything that I could ask for – friends, clean water, comfortable bed, and working heater. Also, I have beautiful friends namely Emma, Brandi, Emily, Cassie, Erika and Sharon.
  • The courses: I find most of the courses are quite general.

Q: What's the most obvious difference between Lehigh and your home universities?

A: The biggest difference that I realize when I’m here in Lehigh is that the undergraduates have countless opportunities to do independent researches. Such opportunity does not only allow the students to be innovative, but also allow students to fully utilize their knowledge practically. Back in my home university, students do not have such opportunities, if there any, it would be really minimal. Nonetheless, in my home university, students are required to do a Final Year Project, but only when they are in their final year.

Q: Describe what daily life is like for you in your home country, Malaysia? What do you miss about your home country?

A: Hurm, my daily life? Back in my Malaysia, I was very occupied with extra co-curricular activities. Hence, I always make sure that I utilize my time very effectively because time is extremely precious for me. I focus going to classes during the day and stay back to do some extra co-curricular activities like going to clubs’ meetings, making calls to companies for sponsorship purposes, and sometimes going to meetings to nearby companies to discuss on potential partnership on the events that I organize. During the night, I would spend my time cooking my own food do my homework. I rarely eat outside because I love to know what I eat. And cooking releases my tension too. If I have more free time, I would normally go for swimming too.

What I really miss about my home country are my family, my best friends, and the food. Malaysia is known for its variety type of food due to its cultural diversity. We have 3 main races in Malaysia: Malay, Chinese and Indian. So you kinda expect how awesome the food would be, when those three cultures are mixed, in food, literally.

(Vanggey Rice)

Q: If someone was going to visit malaysia, what would you tell them to do there?

A: Oh boy, this is the hardest question because there are so many things to do in Malaysia! I would personally suggest one to go and explore the nature, especially beaches in Malaysia. Malaysian climate is humid and hot all the year, approximately 80°F, which is an ideal temperature for corals (Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3) to grow. So, one will see colorful corals, fishes and crystal clear water. Also, Malaysia has one of the best spot for scuba diving! So, if you wish to explore underwater world at its best, go to Malaysia! Indeed, I always sail at the nearby lake and beaches whenever I have free time too! The beaches in Malaysia are very beautiful and preserved. Not to forget, the food too! You will know what I am talking about once you make a touchdown to Malaysia!

(Sipadan Islands)

(River Traversing)

Q: What do you like about American culture? 

A: I like seeing Americans’ culture of being straightforward. When they love something, they would tell you. When they are not OK with what you’re doing, they would be honest with you.

Q: Did you join any activities being held by ISS and what was your impression?

A: Yes. I think I feel loved! J

Q: Is there anything else you would like everyone to know about your self or Malaysia?

A: I struggled hard in the beginning part of me being in America. I found that people were not friendly and wouldn’t be speaking to me if I didn’t start the conversation first. As such, I have learned to have more self-confidence and always start a conversation with people. Such struggle indeed allows me to have better social skills eventually. So thank you, America.

And I would like to urge any Lehigh students who wish to do his/her summer internship abroad in Malaysia, particularly my university, (University Technology of PETRONAS) to just go for it! I’ll be more than glad to assist you upon your arrival! You will definitely love Malaysia!

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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