Julian Tan
Julian Tan graduated with a BA and an MEng from the University of Oxford in 2011 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Composites Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He was elected Vice President of the Cambridge University International Students’ Union in 2012.

He hails from Subang Jaya, Malaysia and takes active interest in issues affecting international students, having spent over 6 years in the UK. He hopes that through his written pieces, he can discuss these issues in an honest and raw fashion.

Entries by Julian Tan

Why Good Students Struggle to Get Jobs

(14) Comments | Posted 3 May 2015 | (22:50)

I recall memorising the timeline of human prehistory when I was twelve - Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic - from the fresh first pages of my history textbook. It was past midnight, and their quirky names numbed my tongue and befuddled my brain. Nevertheless, I forcibly committed them to memory, motivated by...

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A Malaysian Neo-Nazism?

(0) Comments | Posted 10 May 2014 | (12:36)

Malaysia has found itself embroiled in yet another religious controversy. For a country that prides itself on moderation, tolerance and multiculturalism, it is surely bizarre that it appears to be perpetually troubled by religious and racial extremism.

The recent spate of derisive comments made against Malaysia's minorities by Islamist group...

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From the Outside Looking In

(1) Comments | Posted 5 January 2014 | (21:56)

When it hit international news that "Malaysian Islamic authorities seized more than 300 Bibles from a Christian group in a raid last Thursday", I found myself pegged at the centre of my lunchtime discussions with Cambridge colleagues from around the world.

"What's happening in Malaysia?" inquired my Bengali friend, her...

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What Makes Us Happy?

(0) Comments | Posted 24 December 2013 | (19:30)

A child lies solitary and silent on a grubby cart in Kabul. His tender feet and hands are caked in the same elements that freckle his baby face, soil his faux-regal clothes and bequeath the terrain around his fragile frame a strange equality of injustice. He is an Afghan child...

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What They Don't Tell You About Being a Straight-A Student

(0) Comments | Posted 11 November 2013 | (15:07)

The last time I got a B for anything was in Year 3. Since then, I've managed to get an A or better for every test on every subject that I have taken, from impromptu class tests to official examinations that mark academic milestones.

As you could probably imagine,...

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British Humour - Six Years and I Still Don't Get It

(27) Comments | Posted 1 October 2013 | (00:00)

"...Who apparently can be heard on the Wi-Fi in the morning," muttered Jeremy Paxman behind the dusty Hitachi screen.

The room erupted into another long burst of hysterical laughter, palms beating thighs into discs of red submission and eyes squeezed so tightly it forced tear ducts into duty.

"Brilliant, absolutely...

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Happy Birthday, Malaysia - You Deserve Better

(4) Comments | Posted 26 August 2013 | (00:00)

That morning began in the dark - the only illumination coming from the soft glow of pixelated screens scattered around me. I awoke from a state of half-dream, half-wakeful to a dry and chapped upper lip, a couple of wailing babies and the deafening hum of the Airbus A380. Two...

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How to Get Into Oxbridge

(5) Comments | Posted 28 July 2013 | (08:35)

As the sweltering summer heat dies to embrace the birth of spring, another batch of eager teenagers will begin their arduous preparations for the annual university admissions, each one more hopeful than the next for a nod from their university of choice.

Every year, it gets tougher - students become...

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10 Annoying Facebook Friends We All Have To Live With

(0) Comments | Posted 27 June 2013 | (00:32)

Admit it. You're on Facebook as we speak - third tab opened in Firefox hiding behind "work emails" and that unfinished report. Meanwhile, your Facebook mobile app is pinging you erratically, all thanks to that green dot that sits almost permanently next to your name.

The meteoric success of Facebook...

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Refuse to Be Bullied Into Mediocrity

(4) Comments | Posted 30 May 2013 | (10:22)



Clenching my textbooks bounded by a kaleidoscopic strap, I braved a stinging look at the group of offenders. They fashioned an 'L' with their thumbs and forefingers, shirts untucked and trousers stained and laughed maniacally as if they had told the world's greatest joke.

"Babies," I muttered under...

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Dear Malaysia, Democracy Should Be Easier

(20) Comments | Posted 29 April 2013 | (00:50)

"It's not on the list," said the lady in the pink floral scarf.

"What do you mean?" I firmly asked, trying my hardest to suppress the imminent trembling in my voice.

"Your name - it isn't on the list," she said monotonically, pushing her bifocals along the bridge of her...

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The Boston Marathon Explosions: We Will Win, You Will Lose

(5) Comments | Posted 18 April 2013 | (00:00)

I opened Twitter. BBC Breaking News tweeted, "US media report two explosions near finish line of Boston Marathon (28 minutes ago)."

#prayforboston was trending.

I immediately thought to myself, 'Not again... '

What is it about the human race that breeds such contempt - contempt so strong that motivates the...

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Oxford or Cambridge - Which Is Better? Does It Matter?

(2) Comments | Posted 11 April 2013 | (00:00)

Oxbridge, the portmanteau of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge has for centuries, produced world-changing ideas and people that have gone on to mould the course of human history.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires has bred 48 Nobel laureates, over 60 heads of state and government,...

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Why I Am Glad I Was Spanked as a Child

(130) Comments | Posted 13 March 2013 | (23:00)

I grew up in a typical Asian household. My dad was boss and his words were law, I always cleaned my plate (disliking broccoli or being too full risked me listening to a long lecture on the dying children of Africa), school was my only priority and cake for dessert...

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How University Taught Me To Be Patriotic

(0) Comments | Posted 25 January 2013 | (20:03)

It is 7:25am in a quiet suburban city in Selangor, Malaysia. Sitting by a bench in my school cafeteria, I rummage through the many contents of my Adidas backpack to fish out a navy blue necktie. I quickly drape it around my collar and tie it into a knot to...

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A First Class Degree From Oxbridge - So What?

(31) Comments | Posted 11 November 2012 | (23:00)

In my graduation gown and subfusc, I tensely stood before the vice chancellor of Oxford University. With both my parents proudly looking on, the dean of my college held up my hand as she led my graduating class through the ceremony. A few sentences in Latin later, we all solemnly...

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Why Are Asians at University So Anti-Social?

(23) Comments | Posted 8 October 2012 | (00:00)

I am Asian and five years ago, I flew on my first international flight alone. With three packed suitcases and a one-way ticket to the United Kingdom, I was bursting with excitement and anxiety. What awaited me at Oxford University, I hadn't the slightest clue. But one thing was certain...

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