KUALA LUMPUR: Mention studying in Russia and to most people it will conjure up an image of poor quality education, harsh living conditions and freezing temperature.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
For one thing, the nearly 200-year-old Moscow Medical Academy is the second-best medical school in the world according to an international rating done by Unesco.
Dipta Rai, 24, said her parents were initially bewildered by her decision to study medicine at the Moscow Medical Academy.
My parents are doctors too but they were thinking of the usual destinations like India, Britain or Australia.
I have friends studying medicine in Britain and when I compared their syllabus with that of the academy there is no difference, both countries are offering the same thing, but I have so much more fun experiencing the unique Russian culture, said the fourth year student of Moscow Medical Academy.
Rai and five Malaysians who are doing medicine in Russia were at the MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur recently to share their experiences with the media.
Echoing her was T. Harikrishnan, 23, who said Malaysian students dominated the English-medium school of medicine at the academy catering for foreign students, who would do three years of pre-clinical study in English and three years of clinical study in Russian.
Intensive Russian classes are part of the coursework to prepare us for our clinical years and housemanship at Russian hospitals, he said.
Syuhada Ahmad, 21, cited cheaper cost as another attraction, adding that RM200,000 was enough to cover tuition fees and living costs in Russia for six years.
The fees and living costs in Russia are even lower than those at local private colleges in Malaysia, where the amount could come up to at least RM300,000.
Fees and living costs for a medical course could run up to at leastRM800,000 in Australia and RM1.2mil in Britain, according to MCA Youth national education bureau chairman Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Lamenting that rumours and misconceptions had driven many away from the prospects of studying medicine in Russia, he hoped the experience of these students would be an eye-opener.