Malaysia

AFS

Please, please, please if you are a student considering an exchange with AFS, or have already decided to use AFS, read this.
I'm not some kind of spammer, or someone from another company trying to prevent you from using this company, I'm a student too, who last year went with AFS on a year long exchange to Malaysia.
In hindsight, I understand that Malaysia is an out there, unusual destination, and of course it was not going to be easy, but it wasn't the cultural differences that made my exchange such an awful experience, it was AFS's way of dealing, with pretty much anything, that made it so bad.
This company uses volunteers for practically everything. Your host family, your Chapter Leaders, your co-ordinators, everyone is doing it for free. This, in theory sounds like a lovely idea, but it's not.
I lived with two different host families, and I found that after a month or so of living with a host-family that you do not pay, you become nothing more than a burden to them. The whole concept of letting someone live in your house for free is much worse than what you would expect. For my family, the idea of taking me out and showing me Malaysia became tiring to them, pretty soon they began to resent me, as they had to drive me to places, feed me and let me use their power, for nothing in return.
You might think that this was just a bad host-family, but, after three months I couldn't stand the guilt of living with people who resented me, and I decided to move. But within two months, the exact same thing began to happen.
It's not hard to understand that if a host-family were being paid to take care of a student, they would try their hardest to make it a good, and worthwhile experience for them. It's unfair to dump a stranger on a family who has nothing supporting them but their own goodwill.

Chapter Leaders, the people in charge of looking after you, helping you, and organising various events and social gatherings, are also volunteers. My Chapter Leader, who seemed to be one of the best in the country, according to all other exchange students, was an old woman with a full time job who lived three hours away from me.
She was truly a lovely lady, but she was too busy to ever really organise anything, and often we did not have enough money to do anything worthwhile. In Malaysia especially, it was hard to do anything without someone else organising it for you, over there, and most likely in similar countries, you can't simply go out and do your own thing, hell I couldn't even go for a walk down the street by myself.

I don't want to rant on, but please, please, please if you are reading this, consider another exchange company.
My dad was a very stubborn man, and he would not let me switch to a different company, or to another country, don't let your parents be like mine!!!
It has ruined my life, I feel so silly for wasting so much money and effort on an experience so miserable. PLEASE DON'T GO WITH THIS COMPANY!!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Apr 27, 2016
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1

TRACC Borneo

I stayed on Pompom Island for more than 4 month at the end of 2013 for an unbelievably amazing time! After completing my Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology I was looking for a conservation project in southeast Asia where I could learn how to restore coral reefs. I chose to stay with TRACC as a volunteer for 6 weeks but ended up staying another 3 months after that - because it was exactly what I had been looking for. During my stay I also completed my PADI Advanced and PADI Rescue Diver courses - all inclusive!

TRACC has two main goals on Pompom island: Enhancing the state of the surrounding coral reefs and securing the survival of the local sea turtle population. Our daily life on the island was structured accordingly: On a typical day, we would get into the water right after breakfast to collect broken coral fragments from surrounding reefs. We would then stabilise these, using a range of techniques, before securing them once again on damaged reefs on Pompom, enabling and accelerating natural recovery processes. In addition, we maintained various different coral nurseries which were used to allow collected coral fragments to grow before they were being used for reef restoration. At night, small teams would walk around the island along the beach, looking for freshly laid turtle eggs. When a new nest was found, we would carefully collect the eggs and transfer them to a turtle hatchery where they could then hatch in peace - my favorite part was releasing the little baby turtles after a couple of weeks!

Life on Pompom was simple and yet unbelievably fulfilling - every day was seized to the max! The island truly is a small paradise, exactly how one would imagine - warm, clear waters, white beaches, amazing underwater-life, unforgettably beautiful sunsets and unique dives, also on surrounding islands. Tents are provided for a good night's rest and food is prepared in a basic open-air kitchen. The communal area was our meeting place for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a bit later in the night, also for the occasional cold beer (or two). There was always a great group spirit and a generally relaxed atmosphere.

If you are looking for a really "different" experience, far away from the daily hustle and stressfulness of a "normal" life then you have to come to Pompom! If you can imagine to live in a tent for a couple of weeks and spend every day in the water or on the beach then you have to come to Pompom! If you want to learn how to conserve and enhance coral reefs with a sustainable approach then you have to come to Pompom!

My last stay was so fulfilling, educational and meaningful that I decided to go back to Pompom once again this year to do my PADI Divemaster training - I cannot wait for the day to finally arrive - I will see you there ;)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Jul 28, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

TRACC Borneo

Wonderful experience visiting TRACC in Sabah on the island of Borneo – we were lucky enough to visit both the Kudat project and the Pom Pom Island Project so we saw the best of both locations. The weather was pefect in Kudat and we dove and planted reefs in the proposed location of the Tun Mustapha park. Pom Pom Island is just superb and while we were there the camp was being rebuilt. White sand, turtles, clear water and amazing diving. The artificial reefs that TRACC has built have made a huge difference to fish numbers and diversity. We dove lobster wall where there are no TRACC reefs and there is nothing but rubble shallower than 20m. In comparison the TRACC house reef has fantastic fish life. What a great experience – working and diving with keen passionate people on one of the most beautiful islands.

How do we give this more than 10 stars?

Seriously recommended if you care about the ocean, coral reefs or turtles. There were things that weren't perfect but TRACC had just moved. Dino and the team were building every day so the camp facilities will definitely be better now than then. For more info check out #tracc on FB, twitter or instagram. website is http://tracc-borneo.org/

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Jul 10, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Ecoteer

I had a great time in Merapoh with Ecoteer! I went on numerous cat walks! And saw many animal tracks at the moment there are no tigers but the rumor going around is that they might have just found a tiger track near the river, making all the walks interesting as you have to keep your eyes open all the time!! While I was in merapoh I went caving as well and I camped in the jungle. Everyone who was working with ecoteer did everything they could to make sure that my stay was amazing! I would go back in a heart bet!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Mar 13, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Frontier

I went on the Tiger Trail project in Malaysia with Frontier in April 2014. During the week I did many things including jungle trekking and looking for snares, river tubing, river caving and rock climbing, working with the local native tribes and we also spent the night in the hide in Taman Negara. We even saw a White King Cobra and lots of elephant and Sun Bear tracks. It really did allow me to immerse myself in the rainforest, something that I thought I never would be able to do.

Sri the project leader is so enthusiastic and so knowledgeable which makes the trip that all the more special. Actually all of the people involved in this project especially the Native Tribal Ladies, the Batek's, really made my week so memorable.

Thank you to everyone involved.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: May 12, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I signed up for the Summer Volunteer Program 2013 and I must say I had the time of my life! If you're feeling doubtful, Sankalp is absolutely a legitimate organisation. It is exactly what you're looking for if you're looking to put your heart out to volunteer and at the same time discover beautiful India.

I've chosen Sankalp because the management were extremely responsive and helpful. I'm glad I've picked Sankalp because the entire program was very well-structured from A-Z. We stayed at a volunteer home with the rest of the volunteers of other project. It's very conveniently located to local grocery stalls, shopping mall, courier office and to certain volunteer project location. Everyday our caretaker (Punima) makes us amazing local lunch and dinner, so good I fell in love with Indian cuisine! The house is cosy with fundamentals amenities.

I did the Street Kids project for the first two weeks. We taught them English and Maths. Sankalp provides us transport to project location, so no worries on that! In school, the children are very bright and enthusiastic learners! They love coming to school and you'll be so motivated to teach them. During break time, we taught them song and dance and they love it! I'm already missing these adorable kids!

With Sankalp's Summer Program we spend our third week exploring Northern India. Visited Agra Fort & Taj Mahal (Agra), Amritsar, trekked the Himalachal and went to Dharamshala. The vacation, transportation and accommodation is of course well organized. The trip was pretty comfortable!

Overall, it was a beautiful experience! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for you who wants to have a lifetime experience by volunteering + tour. I'm definitely going back.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Jul 30, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Program:
Location: Malaysia
Posted: Jul 30, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9
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