Author: A BENL Graduate

Enrolling During The Short Semester/ Sem 3

Starting your undergraduate degree during the short semester/ Sem 3 is something you can opt for, depending on when you graduate from CFS, but not many choose to do this as they prefer to take a break from all the studying and be with family, or do some travelling during the time, which is totally understandable.

I opted to start during the short semester because I was a such a nerd my parents lived nearby, so it wasn’t that much of a sacrifice on my part. And I did not regret that decision.

For one, orientation week wasn’t hectic since not a lot of us were around; maybe a quarter of the full sem crowd.

Another is that you could get a head start on some courses than your peers, which is a bonus since you won’t need to compete with them for the same course especially introductory courses, which are in high demand but usually low in availability.

If memory serves me right, we were only allowed to take up to 6 credit hours, and depending on your planning and offered courses, you could take 2 or 3 courses during the short sem.

Back then, language courses were usually offered and I personally would highly recommend you to take it because it would be the course that EVERYONE will be fighting for when the Sem 1 crowd enrols, so it’s better to get it out of the way ASAP, especially for the compulsory Arabic that you have to take (it’s still compulsory, right?).

It would also be a great boon if the Department of English Language and Literature offers introductory courses like Introduction to Linguistics because they are pre-requisites where you can’t take higher level courses if you have not completed them first. This will greatly reduce your stress when Sem 1 starts as you can proceed to take the other courses offered by the department, depending on pre-requisites.

But do remember that the short sem is literally short, so it is quite hectic as so much is crammed in such a short time; expect quizzes and assignments to come early and I think the midterm exams start around the 3rd week.

However, don’t let that turn you off if you’re undecided on whether to take this path because the short sem is the best time to explore and get to know your way around the campus without feeling self-conscious or nervous about it because the campus is relatively empty.

Learn the layout of the Kulliyyah(s) as this will help you maneuver your way between classes and save you the time from being lost. Also, find out where the important offices are e.g. Admission and Records (A&R) because you will be dealing with them a lot throughout your  time in UIA.

Last but not least, the most important and advantageous point of short sem for me – apart from being slightly ahead of everyone – was the fact that you could PLAN THE COURSES YOU WANT TO TAKE for Sem 1 since you have the study plan on hand.

It is imperative that you have several plans ready because not all courses that you plan want to take would have seats available.

By having plans ready, you won’t be rushed to decide on registration day and will prevent you from panicking at the last minute where you’ll end up registering and settling for courses that are available to meet the required credit hours but you’re not mentally prepared for.

So to those of you planning to enrol during the short sem, I wish you good luck and I hope you do not have any regrets either.


Life at CFS

Since I left the place, a lot of things apparently changed, from rules to course syllabus, so I don’t think I’m qualified enough to talk about what to expect once you’ve enrolled at the PJ campus. You can google this though!

I came across some posts that detailed the tests you need to sit before classes start. But don’t be daunted! I had to sit for some of these tests too (I think there are more now, I’m not really sure. A decade has that tendency to make things a bit fuzzy) and they are necessary to ensure that you would be able to cope with the syllabus, as it won’t be easy if you’re not properly sorted.

Other than the infamous tests, I read that you won’t be studying English once classes start. Instead, you will learn what the Human Science (HS) students are learning and then some. It’s a somewhat new CFS policy which I’m not sure about so I wouldn’t try to explain.

As meh as that sounds, we didn’t study English that much either. We studied some linguistics, drama, poetry and the rest were more general subjects (not related to English). Don’t worry about missing out because once you start at the main campus, introductory courses are compulsory, so you’ll be fully equipped to complete your degree. And if you’re still eager to learn about the English language, the library is always a good place to find reading materials.

BUT, as dull as the class would be, PAY ATTENTION in Research Methods/Methodology class. This is important because it will be invaluable once lecturers start giving you assignments. It will be particularly useful once you move to the main campus. Plagiarism is a serious offence in academia, and this class will help you not to commit a heinous academic crime.

Also, understand how the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) system works if you’re not familiar with it. It wouldn’t mean much when you’re in CFS but once you go to the main campus, where you’ll start with a clean slate, your CGPA matters. A LOT.

On the day to day life at CFS, it’s always good to befriend your roommates. You don’t have to be bffs but being cordial with them is more than advised. They will be the last people you see before you sleep and the first people you see when you wake, figuratively and literally speaking. It would make your time at CFS infinitely better when you have agreeable roommates.

Finally, know where each venue is located so that you wouldn’t be lost once classes start. Find time during the Ta’aruf (Orientation) Week to explore the grounds. Drag your new friend with you or go solo, though this is not advisable for sisters. But if you still find yourself lost despite the homework you’ve done, ASK FOR DIRECTIONS. Seriously, it will save you a lot of time and energy.

Update: The PJ campus closed down. So much has changed in just 10 years *sigh*


Embarking on a new stage in life is not easy especially when some adjusting and adapting needs to be done. Being a university student is one of those stages, if you choose that route.

University is uncharted territory and a completely different ball game compared to the schooling environment that you are used to. It can be intimidating -everything is at first- but when you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake, well most of it. I came, I saw, I conquered and all that.

I, myself, didn’t know what to expect when I received my offer letter. I was going in blind and the only things that I was certain of were the program I was taking and where I would be doing my foundation studies (Centre for Foundation Studies (CFS) was known as Matriculation Centre of IIUM (MCIIUM)).

It’s easier now in the age of the Internet as you can find information on life in UIA, CFS and university, for specific courses to give you a glimpse of what to expect but they’re usually broad strokes or detailed but limited to certain situations. Everything else is still shrouded in mystery to those who are out of the loop.

I know that life is an adventure and discovering new things is part of the fun but it doesn’t hurt to get some idea on what kind of lemons life will give you. So, I am here to share my experience as a former BENL student at UIA to hopefully give you an idea of what being a BENL student would be like before you set foot on the university’s sacred grounds (part exaggeration, part sarcasm. You’ll understand this once you’re there, if this inside joke is still around) and how to navigate life as a student there once you’re knee deep in the course.

With that, forward ho!