My name is Fransiska Novita, a student from the Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Public Health Batch 2015. I was selected to be a participant of Seoul National University Spring 2017 Exchange Program in Seoul, South Korea. Moreover, I was granted Global Korea Scholarship for Foreign Exchange Students (GKS) from National Institute for International Education of South Korea to support me during this program.
Seoul National University has a student organization under the provision of Office of International Affairs (OIA) called SNU Buddy where Korean students in SNU help exchange students during their stay in South Korea. Also, they arrange activities and events for exchange students every week to make sure the exchange students will enjoy their stay and obtain unforgettable experiences. I made a lot of new friends in SNU Buddy. Not only from South Korea, but other countries such as Finland, Peru, United States, Germany, Yemen, Kazakhstan, and many more. Interacting with them was really an advantageous experience that enriches my knowledge because each of them has different backgrounds. We exchanged stories, opinions, and cultures. I took five courses during this program which included Korean Language class. In these classes, I’ve got some lessons and inspirations from the professors. They are professional and friendly to the point they actually care for their students which are shown in their willingness to share their life experiences, constructive feedbacks, and valuable advice.
My daily life in Seoul was always an adventure! Together with friends, I travelled the city and I did a lot of adventurous things I have never done. I went to Seokchon Lake in Jamsil enjoying the Cherry Blossom Spring Festival, I joined a tour to visit the border of South and North Korea where the armies from both countries stood facing each other and holding a gun, I took a train and travelled Busan for 3 days during the public holiday, taste dozens of Korean street foods, strolled Gangnam, Myeongdong, Hongdae, and other tourist spots. A couple weeks before I left South Korea, I went to Suwon World Cup Stadium to see FIFA U-20 Final Match with some Indonesian friends who was studying in Seoul National University. They shared their experience and tips for me to continue to study abroad. Besides travelling, I was also actively involved in several fun activities like volunteering, attending events or seminars, and watching concerts.
Having the opportunity to live in Seoul for about 4 months has made my understanding about culture exchange more profound. I saw that Korean people might not be as friendly as Indonesians but what I’ve learned from them is some important character foundations such as discipline, hardworking, and respectful. After I finished this program, I feel the changes that happened to myself, how I think and how I perceive something. These changes make me a better person. I would say that now I became more open and I always tried to see everything from many perspectives. I can also feel the boost of confidence in myself which makes me easier to communicate with people especially those who have different backgrounds than me. Living abroad alone has also led me to be braver, more independent, and more mature.
In a word, this exchange program gave me so many valuable lessons I’ve never had anywhere before. I have no regrets taking this opportunity because everything I got from this program is completely beyond my expectations. Lastly, I want to remind everyone to not be afraid to take a single step out from our comfort zone and take this precious opportunity!