Now that I have completed my first student exchange programme, I would like to share my experience with you. Instead of staying at home or studying on my own, I decided to fill my August semester break with a meaningful exchange experience to South Korea, for which I am very pleased with the decision that I made. This was my first time flying alone and I had to be independent as I will have to be away from home. Fortunately, I met many people who treated me kindly during my stay at South Korea. The locals that I met were kind enough that they would not mind guiding you when you got lost on the street or lend you a hand when you could not understand the Korean menu.
Pai Chai University is located in Daejeon, which is the central region of South Korea, and the strategic location of the city made it easy for us to travel around the country. The summer school programme had participants from various countries including Algeria, China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan. There were cross-culture exchanges every day and we were exposed to the diverse cultures. Three weeks was a very short period, but we all got to know each other and everyone was there to exchange their life experiences. A welcome orientation and big dinner was prepared upon our arrival to help the participants settle in and give us a sense of belonging. There was also an ice-breaking activity held on the second day such as an Athletics competition. I was extremely happy and proud that my team managed to win first place.
To introduce us to the local cultures, PCU organised a lot of cultural experience opportunities such as K-Pop activities (PSY concert in Daejeon) and Korean language classes almost every morning. Some evenings, we ventured into Daejeon City with the PILOTs (Korean Buddies). Besides that, we also visited a Hanok Village in Jeonju, Appenzeller/ Noble Memorial Museum, Kyeongbokgung Royal Palace, SM COEX Atrium in Seoul and EVERLAND Caribbean Bay Water Park in Yongin City. We were able to learn more about South Korea through these field trips. It amazed me to see pockets of traditional architectures within the modernised city as well as experience the incredibly convenient public transport, superb internet speed, and a variety of Korean food. South Korea is also a great place for cosmetic lovers.
Apart from the outings, there were other activities organised by PCU such as the football matches and Taekwondo performance conducted by a professional team. We were able to participate in the taekwondo lesson and learn some basic taekwondo styles from the professionals such as smashing wooden pieces. PCU also provided us with the taekwondo outfit that we used during the lesson. Furthermore, there were also Korean studies lessons conducted by foreign lecturers who are knowledgeable about Korean culture. They introduced us to the contemporary and traditional cultures of Korea. We also learnt about the Gayageum, a Korean traditional musical instrument.
Last but not least, I would like to express my appreciation to HELP University, especially to Miss Dot and Marsha who provided me with a lot of helpful information. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Mr Ryan, the director of Pai Chai University as well as the PILOTs who gave me plenty of guidance and were extremely thoughtful to me. Of course, my beloved family also showered me with support. Indeed, time flew by so quickly but I will always treasure the unforgettable hours that I spent in South Korea. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at PAISS 2017 and it was truly memorable to me.