Sunday, January 6, 2013

Return from Exchange Student Program, Ajou University, South Korea

Exchange Student Program to Ajou University, South Korea, Fall 2012

Being bestowed the opportunity to join an Exchange Student Program to Ajou University, South Korea is indeed my lifetime pleasure. It is really fun, fantastic and it is awesome that I won't forget in my life! As one of the fortunate exchange students, I benefited from a multitude of unique life experience which I never experience it before! I learned new language, new cultures and also learn a lot about myself.

With this opportunity that I had, I believe in future it will be really boost and gave more advantage for me in applying job. Besides that, offering students to participate in this exchange program will enhance UKM's and Malaysia's reputation, culture and the chance to be recognized by others.

While on exchange, I'm confronted with challenges every day that I never experience before. Everything was new to me and I had to adjust to it. At the beginning I felt stressful, owing to the inability to communicate well with the others because their conversation is fully in Korean language. However, as the end was drawing, I slowly are adapted to it.

I had to go through all the negative feeling of homesickness, discrimination, depression, and other negative feelings no matter how and by the end of this exchange program, I learned to manage it well and yet I gain some qualities such as confidence, self-understanding, global thinking, courage and better decision-making.

Without realizing, joining and being selected to be one of the exchange student makes my family proud of me and I became a good role model for the people surrounding, especially FEP junior who certainly needs more motivation and courage to step up like me.

Upon completing this exchange program, I felt that the experience enabled me to let others to think of me differently. People became more respectful, admired and always wanted to know my experience from this program and wish to gain wider knowledge like me.

Culture Adjustment and Learning Culture
While on exchange, I had a chance to experience Korean culture. Once I arrived, I found out myself completely immersed within a different culture due to the differences in food, weather, living style and the ways in which people communicate

For me, I didn't face ant problem in food simply because I can taste and eat anything in Korea, but sadly not for my Muslim friends whom they had to cook or prepare their meal all the time. This is mainly because most of Korean foods are non-halal. At the beginning, all of us shared the similar problem with the significantly different weather and climate from our own country. Our skin would dry quickly and tend to easily get sick, to an extent in which I got fever twice in a month, which never happen in my life ever!

After completing this exchange student program, I found that I am essentially able to behave in the manner of local and gained broader minds.

Meeting new friends abroad the world and activities
Through this exchange program I met friends from all around the world. Ajou University had organized some events that involve meetings and trips where we can meet the other exchange students and get to know them which are typically quite fun and interesting. From here we are interacting with each other, forming friendship and promoting each country in cultural understanding. The friendship once created are studded with great memories and unforgettable.

The most unforgettable I would list is the Seoul trip and Gyeongju trip that I have joined, because from this trip I sought a great friendship which lasted till end of this exchange program. Another program that really brings impact to me is the International Day that was organized by OIA and manage by AGA, this is the day all exchange students are promoting and showing their own country culture. We participated and promoted Malaysia cultures and foods. It was really tiring and we didn't sleep well because of the preparation, but it's undoubtedly really fun and interesting because I got to know more closely to others country's culture.

In addition, I also joined The War Memorial of Korea program organized by other university. I knew this program through OIA mail to all exchange students and it was up to us to participate. It is an unexpected program for me to join and get to learn South Korea war history. They took me to visit Korean War Museum and there were no charges that I need to pay. It is a good experience for me because through this program I knew more about Korea history and get new friends.

Improvement and Learning new language
Besides that, through this exchange program I had the opportunity to learn a new foreign language that I never had before. Korea language is not that hard as I though because some of the words are closely related from Chinese language. That's why i can understand it at ease. Though at the end of this exchange program I was unable to master or speak fluently in Korean, I am able to understand what Korean people are trying to say and able to communicate to survive in Korea.

Besides learning Korean language, another benefit that I gained is that I became more confident in English and Cantonese speaking. Being on exchange and learning a new language will likely help widening students' range of future career options.

Academic Related
After being selected to join this exchange program, I heard a lot of people telling me that I had to extend my academic study regardless because not all the courses are being offered at Ajou University. But for me, regarding the extending or the courses are not being offered is actually up to us how we manage our own courses. If the student can manage well, there is no extended semester for him/her.

In my opinion, it is better to offer the second year and third year students to join this exchange program because FEP can select the best student based on their first year academic result and activities rather than simply allocating students without knowing well of the student.

There is a few subject that i had taken at Ajou University. For me, at the beginning all the subjects I was taking here are very hard to score and I need to study and strive harder. But who knows after the midterm exam, I realized that it is not that hard as I though because the lecturers here actually considered the foreign students' ability. They actually wanted us to learn and know more about Korean culture. As for my MIS professor, he grouped each exchange student with Korean students to let us learn Korean culture from Korean students. On the other hand, he wants Korean students to learn English from us.

Exchange Student Program Budget
As for financial concerns, I'm glad that I've received some sponsorship from UKM. But for me it is not enough to cover up the 4 months expenses. Due to pre-departure, I have to use a lot of money and the flight is expensive as it is the end of year where holiday periods are abundant.

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During the preparation to South Korea, I spent the free time to outsource for other sponsorship by myself because I don't want to depend all the money from UKM and family. Luckily for me, I received some sponsorship from MCA and other families

There is no excuse for no money because if we do work hard to find sponsorship and sincerely wanna do all the best over there, I'm sure everything will be fine. So we asked a letter from FEP office for us to find our own sponsorship. With this, all of my 4 months expenses including flight tickets are being covered.

My Suggestion
I would hope for upcoming international exchange program, UKM can select students who can readily be a real ambassador for Malaysia culture in various discipline such as dance, food or any other traditional performance to make other impressed and realized that Malaysia's outstanding difference from other countries in the world.

Based on my experience interacting with the exchange students, they often stereotyped Malaysia as a nation who contains only one religion and one culture. When I was there, I explained everything about 3 main culture and religion for them in detail. By then, they finally understood and knew about our cultural and ethical diversity. True understanding would spark a seed of interest and passion which can promote them to visit Malaysia.

Under permissible circumstances, UKM can delegate students of different religion to represent the 3 main ethnics in Malaysia which can facilitate exchange students' understanding about Malaysia's inside.

For the preparations, the selected students can learn some basic language for the respective country that they will go for exchange and ready to spread and showcase Malaysia culture to others such as Malaysia traditional dance or songs.

Besides, I also hope that UKM can choose or send a student who is ready to adapt or adjust to other culture and have the willingness to learn culture with open mind rather than "stay inside the box".


  1. I read it all! A very good sharing experience! ! :)

  2. Hello.. may i have your email? I want to ask several things about the exchange program ��