Chinese International Students in Malaysia Increasingly Purchasing Private Cars for Convenience
Updated: Jul 11
Writer: Wang Qiyue
Editor: Lin Ge
Nowadays, an increasing number of Chinese students are opting for Malaysia as their study destination. However, as a Southeast Asian country, Malaysia offers a unique culture, climate, and lifestyle compared to China. In the process of adapting to this new environment, many Chinese students find owning a private car to be an attractive option. This trend has become more evident in recent years, with more Chinese students opting to purchase cars locally. For the majority of them, having a private car represents an independent and freedom-oriented lifestyle. However,alongside these advantages come various challenges and responsibilities that accompany buying and driving a private car.
First and foremost, The purchase of a private car comes with significant financial requirements, not limited to the initial cost but also covering vehicle insurance, maintenance, and related expenses. These additional financial obligations can place a considerable burden on international students. Secondly, it is worth noting that Malaysia's road infrastructure, traffic signage, and driving customs differ significantly from those in China, presenting challenges and confusion for Chinese students. For instance, driving in Malaysia follows the right side of the road, whereas in China, it is the left. Therefore, Chinese students require a period to adapt to these dissimilarities and become familiar with the new driving environment.
（Huang Yichuan and his motorcycle.Photo by Huang Yichuan）
Moreover, international students are required to fulfill specific legal and financial criteria before purchasing a private car, such as obtaining a valid driver's license and completing the necessary paperwork. Huang Yichuan, an international student who owns a motorcycle in Malaysia, stated, "The entire process was quite cumbersome. During that period, besides attending classes, I devoted a significant amount of time and effort to practicing driving skills and studying theoretical knowledge. I also had to handle various documents and procedures, such as filling out paperwork and liaising with relevant authorities, to ensure everything went smoothly. Additionally, effective communication and negotiation were necessary during this process. Overall, it was a challenging and demanding period for me."
However, despite these challenges, many Chinese students continue to be attracted to private car ownership as a way to enhance the overall student experience. They believe that the advantages of having a car outweigh the challenges they may encounter.
Chinese international student Chen Gongzhuo shared his personal experience of owning a private car in Malaysia. He explained, "Having a private car brings me numerous advantages beyond the financial benefits of reducing daily commuting expenses and eliminating the reliance on taxis for transportation to school. Moreover, during my leisure time, I can utilize the car as an opportunity to work part-time as a driver, providing transportation services to passengers and earning additional income."
(Wang Bohan and his private car purchased in Malaysia.Photo by Wang Bohan)
Another Chinese student, Wang Bohan, also expressed his appreciation for the freedom that owning a car provides. He stated, "Before I had my private car, I was always relying on public transportation for my travels. It required careful planning in advance, and I had to spend more time waiting and commuting. However, everything changed drastically once I got a private car. Now, I can go anywhere I want, without being restricted by time or routes. During holidays, I often embark on road trips across Malaysia with my friends, which makes me feel more independent. It gives me a sense of control over my life here and enhances my study abroad experience."
Overall, owning a private car has become an increasingly popular choice among Chinese international students. Despite the challenges that come with it, many students see it as a necessary investment. Owning a car provides them with the freedom and flexibility to fully immerse themselves in Malaysian culture and explore the country on their terms. However, while enjoying the convenience of having a private car, Chinese international students must recognize the obligations that come with it. It includes driving safely, obeying traffic rules, and so on. Alongside the convenience and freedom, students must prioritize their own and others' safety, and develop an awareness of safe and respectful driving practices, as it holds immense significance.