Since 2016, I’ve been getting comments, direct/personal messages, emails and face-to-face questions from fellow Malaysians about my choice of course (and career) for university.
Among the frequently asked questions are:
- What do you learn?
- Are the lecturers white/western?
- Will you be able to get a job?
- Is it easy?
- Did you improve (in terms of language and writing)?
- IS IT WORTH IT?
And so, here I am today, writing this post to help and clarify certain things for the people (should there be any) who are Googling the benefits of getting a BA in Creative Writing in Malaysia.
Or more specifically, a BA in English with Creative Writing.
At the time I’m typing (not the date this is posted) this, there is only one university in Malaysia that offers a proper Bachelor’s of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree for both English Language and Literature (ELL), and English with Creative Writing (ECW). So yeah, you can easily guess which university I’m enrolled in, but note: I am in no way promoting my university whatsoever. Should you decide to pursue a degree in the aforementioned courses somewhere else, go ahead. Should you decided to enroll in this same university, go ahead. The reason why I’m typing this fact is to let you know that my answers will be based on my experience with this university.
Now, time to share some truths, thoughts and whatnot!
1. What do you learn?
For both courses, you will learn a lot of things on English as a language, linguistics, and literature. The only difference is that if you’re getting the ECW degree, you will have a module on Creative Writing too. Students taking ELL will get a choice to either take Creative Writing as their optional module, or any other module (depending on availability/module convener). Yes, you can even take modules outside of the School of English. I’ve friends from ELL taking modules from other schools in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. I’m not certain if one can take modules from other faculties, but no harm in asking the lecturers if you can or can’t.
To get a clearer understanding of the modules in both courses, again, do check out the university’s website.
2. Are the lecturers white/western?
There seems to be a general connotation that lecturers who teach English in private universities—especially those with origins in the UK, Canada, or USA—in Malaysia, have to/should be white/western because English would be their first language (or at least, their homeland’s). Well, I have to break this to you: knowledge isn’t limited to specific races only. I’ve lecturers who are local, lecturers from the Middle East, and I’ve lecturers from Canada, USA and UK as well. They’re all knowledgeable in their own rights. Whether they’re good or not, depends on your views, expectations and such.
3. Will you be able to get a job?
Yes, because when there is a will, there will be a way. Getting a BA or a MA for ELL or ECW doesn’t mean that you will only get to be an educator, writer, editor, academic, journalist, proofreader, etc. etc. The world’s filled with opportunities and let’s be real, many companies today are looking for experience.
Nevertheless, I believe these courses are a good opportunity to widen your sphere of comprehension and this can come in handy when you’re working. These courses will prompt you think outside the box and consider aspects you may or may not have previously thought about. You’ll also have to research a lot of things (Freud’s theories, Marxism, Visual Social Semiotics, etc.).
4. Is it easy?
Is anything in life truly easy? No, and that goes for this course too. Be ready to read a lot of texts, analyse a lot texts using various critical theories, write a large number of essays with word counts in the thousands, come up with even more thesis statements and supporting arguments, and answer the odd exam now and then. If your command on the English language isn’t fluent, you will have problems, particularly when it comes to creative writing. So yeah, be prepared to work, work, work.
5. Did you improve (in terms of language and writing)?
This differs from person to person, but in some ways, I did improve. I expanded my vocabulary but some of the words I used to use have been forgotten as well. I’ve gotten better at citing things and writing academic papers. My poetry-writing has also improved, but not so much for the rest since I’ve yet to properly understand plays and short stories. However, one has to practice in order to gain a better grasp on something. In other words, only expect to improve when effort from your side is given.
6. IS IT WORTH IT?
As long as it doesn’t harm yourself and/or other beings, doing something you love is always worth it 🙂
Well, I hope this clears some things up! …Or, at the very least, answer some frequently asked questions σ(´し_｀〃)ゞ If you’ve some other questions, feel free to ask! However, I must remind you again that my knowledge is limited to my own experiences.