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John Joan Gogo Awaji-Inwon

Preparing for an American Adventure
Student opts for American Degree Transfer Program at Nilai University, Malaysia to save on costs.

John Joan Gogo Awaji-Inwon has lofty ambitions as she hopes to study international relations in an American university and to someday represent Nigeria at the United Nations. Despite her tender years, Joan (as she is known to her friends) seems to have a very level head on her shoulders and already has her future path clearly mapped out. “I knew from an early age that I wanted to study abroad. It is a wonderful chance to learn and experience new things,” explains the 20-year-old who hails from the Andoni local government area of Rivers State, Nigeria. However, her initial foray into a college in a neighbouring African country did not sit well with her as international students were segregated. “I did not want this as I wanted to mix with the local students,” she says.

That’s when Nilai University (Nilai U) caught her eye during an online search. Her parents had told her to check out options in Malaysia as her elder sister is already in the country pursuing a Computing degree. Her parents liked the fact that the country is stable and relatively safe for international students. The year-round tropical weather coupled with the generally affordable cost of living makes it an appealing destination.

Joan was drawn to the American Degree Transfer Program at Nilai U because she noted that the institution had close ties with a number of North American universities. She also saw that the International Office at Nilai U would help facilitate the transfer. Coupled with the affordable fees at Nilai U, it was pretty much a no-brainer for Joan and her parents.

Although Joan admits to a few difficult first months, she has since adjusted to life on campus, where she also stays. “I was the only African girl in my class and I felt a bit lonely. There was also initial communication problems as we all had to get used to each others’ accents,” she explains. But she has settled in nicely and has made plenty of friends. “It’s great that students from all over the world share the same hostel. This is how we learn from each other!” she adds. “I have even picked some of the local lingo and appreciate certain local dishes.”

Joan is keen to stress that she is benefitting greatly from the small numbers in each class for her programme. “There is literally nowhere to hide. If you don’t do your work, you will get found out. The small numbers also mean quality face time with the lecturers who are very friendly and always available to guide you,” she offers. She is also very enthusiastic about being able to join the Future Leaders Camp, which is a leadership training camp hosted and organised by Nilai U annually. “I got to meet so many new friends and learn so much from the various speakers and workshops!” Joan has also surprised her parents by picking up golf. It is offered as a university module and allows students like Joan to equip themselves with an essential business tool.

On Nilai U’s location, Joan feels it is ideal as the peaceful and quite environment makes it perfect for studies. Also, the cost of living in the suburbs is much lower compared to the big cities, plus there are less distractions. “Besides, the capital city is just a short train ride away. What’s most important is saving on costs so I can achieve my dream of an American education soon,” she stresses. At the moment, she has targeted the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Idaho as potential destinations as both institutions share close ties with Nilai U. “I can’t wait to get to America and I have to thank Nilai U for making that possible.”

Nilai U was established in 1997 and its 105-acre campus is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai. It is just 35-minutes from Kuala Lumpur City Centre and a mere 15 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. For more information, please go to or search for ‘Nilai University’ on Facebook.