MAKING STRIDES: LAILA'S JOURNEY IN THE LAND OF MORNING CALM, SOUTH KOREA
Writer: Hania Humaira | Illustrator: Marsha Susanna | Editor: Maria Josephine & Edsel Pragiwaka
Proverbs say, "Seek knowledge until as far as China." It relates to how Laila Siti Amina, also known as Laila, a third-year second-semester APM student, enhanced her experience in her university life by joining an exchange program. Studying abroad in the land of the rising sun does not stop her from striving for more adventures that could broaden her knowledge. She believes that each opportunity offered by APU has to be maximized by students to shape their world. She decided to study in the heart of South Korea, Seoul, at Hanyang University for her case.
People might wonder if studying abroad is tough, why challenge yourself to try a new environment while Laila has adapted in Japan. Laila is always curious and tries to seek more experience throughout her college life. Beppu, for her, is picturesque as it is surrounded by nature, good people, and delicious food. However, she thinks why not enjoy the vibrant vibe of Seoul when she could also deepen her study of Finance. Laila, an extraordinary student with a big dream, has been interested in Korean culture and the fashion industry; she thinks it is perfect for her to channel her interest by wandering to Seoul.
Laila's Exchange Journey
As Laila always seeks each opportunity provided by APU, she started to research and find out about the exchange program at APU during her second year. To finally decide to join an exchange program, Laila convinced herself by joining exchange guidance to understand the program objectives and outcomes fully. Afterward, she grew an interest in joining the exchange program as she wanted to enjoy a different environment from Beppu. She listed the possible options for exchange universities and study programs offered by each university. After thoroughly comparing each option, Laila believes Hanyang University, located in Seoul, would be an excellent choice to expand her knowledge and experience.
Student Exchange Website
Challenge Encountered When Laila Apply to the Exchange Program
When people want to try something new, sometimes their plan will not be as smooth as the planned and expected one. The same goes for Laila. To finally decide on a suitable university for her exchange program, she has faced several difficulties in aligning her study and credits requirements at both APU and Hanyang University. Her challenge started with adjusting the credits that align with the credits required to graduate from APU. For instance, several classes do not count as a credit for APU. However, as she said, "Fret not!" the student office always offers hands to help apply for the exchange program. It does not stop here; Laila also said that she had to take care of the student visa and housing in South Korea without any particular help. Nevertheless, it helped her be independent and familiar with living standards in South Korea.
Sunshine and Rainbows in Laila's Student Exchange
Seoul is home to elegant skyscrapers, shopping malls, and a royal palace. It is exciting for Laila, as she could study in an environment where it is more lively and engage with Korean society. It is undeniable that the food in Korea could make your stomach happy. Laila shared that during her exchange life, she often explored Korean food, went shopping, explored nature by hiking, and advanced her Korean language ability by tightening her relationship with locals. Notably, she said that Korean society is amicable and welcoming to foreigners despite the rumors. Nonetheless, foreigners need to understand the basic and daily conversation of the Korean language as it would ease them in interacting with locals. Laila believes that it is not because of the stereotypes but because of the language barrier that creates an obstacle and challenge for an exchange student to bond with locals. In other words, by possessing an ability to speak Korean, society would be more open to communicating with international students.
A Day in A Life of Laila in Hanyang University
What is unique about the exchange program is that students could explore and feel the different ambiance and learning methods in each university. It is very accurate, as Laila shared that she could finally take classes that are not available at APU, such as Behavioral Finance, Arts and Aesthetics, and Study of Food. Remarkably and uniquely, in the library of Hanyang University, the students could recharge themselves after long lectures and bulk of essay assignments by sleeping in the pod at the library. Also, the student could have a free massage to relieve themselves after a long day on campus. In the same way, Laila illustrated the strict grading system that could boost her motivation to get good grades. She also said that at Hanyang University, she could focus on her study because the class offered at the university is relatively small, and the biggest one only consist of up to 50 students. Therefore, it pushes her to study hard in class in the comfortable and practical learning environment at Hanyang University. As a result, she achieved the highest GPA in her university life, surprisingly, at Hanyang University.
Message for Fellow Juniors
"Why not maximize your opportunity as a college student while you can? Joining an exchange program is one of them. You can freely explore another campus life other than APU to enjoy another ambiance and learning method offered in each university."
Laila has shaped her university life by joining an exchange program. It is her best life decision to join the exchange program as she can channel her interest in Korean culture and the fashion industry while advancing her study of Finance. Thus, she can engage with the Korean community and create a long-term friendship that is helpful for her to understand Korean society and its culture. Now, it is your time to shine in your way; strive for each opportunity and make the most of your university life!