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Looking for an internship both foreign and familiar? From the metropolitan melting pot of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, to the tantalizing tropics of islands like Tioman, there are many ways to experience Malaysia. This Southeast Asian country is a popular destination for its distinct fusion of three rich cultures: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. Wandering the night markets, you'll indulge in roti and dim sum as calming Islamic prayers echo from a mosque.
The perfect mix of tradition and the modern world, Malaysia is the intersection for a truly unique and diverse cultural experience. Designer stores and monorail transportation line the burgeoning skyline of Kuala Lumpur, while an extravagant Hindu temple is preserved on the outskirts of the city at Batu Caves. For adventures near Malaysia, a weekend trip to Thailand or Indonesia is just one discounted flight away through the thrifty Air Asia line, and stylish Singapore is merely five hours by bus.
Since the main internship industries in Malaysia involve media and activism, you will want to look for opportunities in Kuala Lumpur. This capital city is home to liberal thinkers striving for greater social change in Malaysia regarding women's rights, LGBTQ2 rights, and freedom of expression.
If you're a resident of Canada or the United States, you may enter Malaysia on a visitor's Visa for a stay of 90 days. For an internship visit longer than 90 days, you can travel to nearby Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Thailand and re-enter the country. When you return, the Immigration Department will re-stamp your passport for another 90 days. Carry your passport on you at all times. It is highly recommended to purchase a money belt for all of your important belongings, as snatch thieves frequently target foreigners. Upon entry and departure, you will be electronically fingerprinted. For the full international rundown of Visa requirements, visit the site for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia.
Although Kuala Lumpur may appear to be as swanky as New York City, the cost of living is very low compared to Western countries. Meals are often cheaper to buy on the street than in the grocery, and public transport is both efficient and affordable. Including rent, you should budget around 1,000 USD per month (approximately RM 3000). Be aware of the average apartment and condo rental prices because, as a foreigner, you may be charged more. If you're looking for a job to complement a long-term unpaid internship, you will have to contact the Malaysian Immigration Department. If your internship is shorter than two years, you should consider working and saving beforehand. For more information and specifics, visit Expat Focus.
In order to work in Malaysia, you must be granted expat status. There are two preliminary requirements: minimum salary of RM 5000 and minimum employment period of 2 years.
If you qualify under these requirements, consult the Guidebook on the Employment of Expats Who Want to Work in Malaysia.
With internships in the fields of journalism and media, as well as human rights, you can pursue creative projects and network with journalists, lawyers, and activists alike. Even though it's a developed nation, Malaysia still faces issues that threaten fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and gender equality. By immersing yourself in the exciting and forward-thinking NGO scene, you will gain critical media literacy skills while enjoying a distinctive--and delicious--cultural experience.
After growing up on a tree farm with feisty pet chickens, Emily Fister has become smitten with the world beyond red maples and Austrian pines. This past summer, she worked as an unpaid intern at the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Kuala Lumpur, monitoring controversial human rights issues and defending freedom of expression in Malaysian media. Now finishing up her fourth year of an Honors Specialization in Media and the Public Interest (MPI) at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, Emily looks forward to the next adventure. Fusing her passions for art, music, activism, and travel, she hopes to become a magazine writer or editor (Vanity Fair, ahoy). If all else fails, "Princess of Genovia" will do.
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