“The Travel Journals” are entries submitted by Spartans who have chosen to transform their educational journey with experiences outside of the United States. Both international and domestic students at MSU are encouraged to consider studying or interning abroad as part of their program of study. If you are interested in studying or interning abroad, start by visiting the website of the Office of Study Abroad. With over 275 programs taking place in more than 60 countries, you are sure to find something that works for you.

Name: Julia Miller

Year: Senior

Major: Plant biology, Genomics and Molecular Genetics

Location of Study: Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo

Study Abroad program: It was a study abroad through MSU called Wild Borneo:  Exploring the Biodiversity of S.E. Asia

“I was interested in tropical biology and I wanted to see a Rafflesia, a giant parasitic flower that has the largest single blossom in the world.”

What was your normal day like?

Wake up early and do a birding hike while the sun comes up, eat breakfast, go on another hike, eat lunch, lectures, or relax in the afternoon, dinner, then more relaxation time, and working on journals.

Favorite moment?

Seeing a flowering Rafflesia tuan-mudae two days before we were going to leave Borneo.

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What surprised you most?

The variety and size of the insects! We went on a night hike to look for forest creatures and we probably saw 6 different types of walking sticks, all at least 3 inches long!
Biggest cultural difference?

We were in Malaysia during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, when people fast from sunrise to sunset. So most restaurants and stores were closed during the day.

How was the food?

It was based on rice, vegetables and chicken, with elements of Indian and Chinese cuisine. Some of it was very spicy but it was all delicious.
Three things you learned:

1. Birding can be very fun.

2. Oil palm plantations are degrading the ecosystem in Malaysia

3. I learned where Brunei is! It is a tiny country that is on the island of Borneo.
Would you go back?

Yes! I would like to explore more of South East Asia and of course, look for more amazing plants!