By Mohd Izham ZULKARNAIN
What’s your name? When did you arrive in France?
My name is LEONG Foo Mun. I arrived in France at the 2nd of June 2009 with FP10, the 10th batch of JPA’s French Programme students. I did my pre-university year in Tours before moving to Bordeaux for a 2-year Diploma(DUT) course in Electrical Engineering(GEII).
Where are you from in Malaysia? Your old school?
I was born and raised in a small town called Taiping in Perak. I studied in the Saint George’s Institution, a Lasallian school whose heritage can be traced back to the French educational reformer and priest Saint Jean-Baptiste De La Salle.
Where do you live/study now? What course are you taking?
I am currently studying Electronic Engineering(EII) at the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Rennes(INSA de Rennes).
Why did you choose Rennes?
Well the choice was mostly influenced by my friends and my admissio
n in INSA Rennes. Last summer I was admitted to both Polytech Montpellier and INSA Rennes so I had to choose between these two universities. I was for most of the time leaning towards Polytech Montpellier because the course I applied for offered an interesting programme plus I like to stay in the southern region of France, where it’s sunny and warmer because personally, I cannot stand the cold.
It was admittedly hard to leave Southern France because I really enjoyed my time in sunny Bordeaux and it was especially hard to leave it for a town in Brittany which is widely known for its frequent showers of rain. But the fact that INSA Rennes is one of France’s public universities with a good reputation and Rennes has a great community of Malaysian students makes up for it. But I have nothing against rain Rennes, Brittany is a very beautiful region (Think St. Malo and Mont St. Michel)! Plus, my friends from Orleans were offering to help me move from Bordeaux to Rennes on the way to Metz. Now that I just couldn’t refuse.
Why did you choose INSA de Rennes?
As I have mentioned earlier, INSA Rennes is one of France’s public universities with a good reputation. It offers the course I was looking for plus I have a senior who is currently studying there as well.
Why did you choose Electronic Engineering?
I am always interested in electronics, technology and how they work. I am amazed by electricity despite my constant fear of getting electrocuted. But thankfully when it comes to electronics, I stand a much lesser risk of getting electrocuted than having to work with high voltage, say 15 Volts instead of 230 Volts.
Plus, electronics is what runs our lives today! Our smartphones, gadgets, etc. The intelligent design and system in electronics have fascinated us and brought huge impact on our lives to a point where it has become one of our basic needs alongside food and money. As true as it is, people are willing to skimp on meals to save money for a new iPhone or spending their freshly-earned salary on a brand new laptop.
Why in France?
Coming to France was one of my childhood dreams. So when I got the scholarship offer from JPA to study Electronic Engineering in France for a number of years, there was no way I could say no. Now I didn’t know what France had to offer for Electronic Engineering as the modern-day stereotype suggests that the best place to pursue such a course would be either in Korea or Japan, all I could care was living a significant part of my life in one of the most attractive countries in Europe, far away from home experiencing a totally different culture, much like a tourist.
But as my childish side matures, I learnt that the education system in France has very much to offer, not just in Electronic Engineering in particular. I am talking about how subjects are taught and presented in universities, how students learn and what universities in France offer their students to make their learning experience worthwhile. I cannot compare all these to those of Malaysia’s because I do not have the slightest idea of how it’s done back there. Those in the JPA French Programme had to leave very early to further their studies here, not long after obtaining their SPM results.
What motivates you?
The fact that I have my loved ones being proud of me for my achievements thus far and that I cannot bear to disappoint them. I have made it here because God is faithful and He holds my hand, holds my future and will walk me till the end.
Do you have anything to do besides studying (business/hobby/works)?
Haha! What a poor thing I would be if I were to say no! Of course INSA has taken a significant amount of my time since the first semester, but I always find time to play football, video-surfing in Youtube and reading various online articles. I occasionally watch movies with my friends, I prefer going to the cinema. If I were to have more free time I would draw portraits, I love to draw. It has been a while since my last drawing and sadly I do not know when I’ll come out of this hiatus. If I could afford more free time, I would also read novels by Christopher Priest. But that’s it for now, I’d love to do so many things but I can only have 24 hours per day.
•Current university, city, environments
INSA Rennes is a university like any other universities I guess, it offers various courses such as:
- Electronique et Informatique Industrielle (EII)
- Informatique (INFO)
- Systèmes et Réseaux de Communication (SRC)
- Matériaux, Structures et Mécanique (MSM)
- Génie Civil et Urbain (GCU)
- Génie Mécanique et Automatique (GMA)
- Science et Génie des Matériaux (ex MNT)
What impress me about INSA are its facilities: a big sports hall, a student’s lounge, a library and a computer room accessible to students at all times, and many clubs and sports associations.
Plus, the professors at INSA work to provide students the exposure they need to internship and recruitment opportunities with big companies and hosting different events which students may find interesting and beneficial. For more info: http://www.insa-rennes.fr/
•Malaysian community in your city
There are about 20 of us to date and we are a warm community. We gather from time to time to eat and have fun. It is good because everyone knows everybody and that’s the good thing about a relatively small community in a foreign country, we’re all cool with each other.
•Foods, transportation, lifestyle
Every weekday’s lunch at INSA’s Restaurant Universitaire, the food’s good. I’m not one who complains easily (about food at least). Otherwise my housemates and I cook at home. Usually, I can walk to anywhere I want to go unless if I have to go to the city; then I’ll take the bus which is quite frequent. So public-transportation-wise it’s good: frequent buses with métro in the city. We have the Intermarché 10 minutes away on foot and the INSA campus 15 minutes away on foot. But occasionally, we would take a car to either go somewhere a bit farther or to do heavy shopping.
•Your hope on your future, after graduate, job prospect in Malaysia for your course
I have many plans for my future which depend on the things I do now and the things I may want to do after, but I can never be sure of anything. Once graduated, I may look for a job in Malaysia as an Electronic engineer or consider working in France or even pursuing a doctorate degree in France. I have also considered for some time a job as a university lecturer or even a school teacher. Then, there are ambitions which are not course-related at all…
Overall, I’m always feeling optimistic. Opinions on job prospects on a certain course are everywhere: they can be different and they can vary a lot along time so I am not going to let them influence my hope on my future. Every job is respectable to me and the one thing that should really matter is that people do what they enjoy doing for a living, as long as they are able to contribute to the society plus fulfill their responsibility. If for a moment things look unfavorable we deal with it and we adapt. We may not be living ideally, things may not go the way we planned but we will survive somehow.
Last but not least, do you have any funny/dramatic/scary or any experience that you cannot forget when you living in France?
I’ve had a memorable experience at CAREL Royan where my batchmates and I learnt French for the first 3 months of our programme. The learning process was fun; the activities organized were fun so we just enjoyed ourselves a lot before things really start to get serious after that. I made a friend, Jordi who’s a cool and funny guy. We enjoyed cracking jokes together, playing darts and watching football. Living in Barcelona, he’s a fan of Real Madrid.
2 years after leaving Royan to further my studies in an IUT, I had the chance to catch up with him during my trip to Barcelona. He was a hard person to contact so we never exchanged since CAREL. It was really good to see him again and he’s still funny as always.
Me: I dream to go to Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis.
Jordi: I’ve been to Finland for 5 months and I didn’t see one bloody Aurora Borealis.
Jordi: I know this place like the palm of my hand. And I have no bloody idea where we are.