When I received the email confirming that I got the scholarship to attend Dankook University’s International Summer School, I was overwhelmed by excitement. That happened roughly three months before my departure and I have always been that person whom everyone turned to when anything about Korea is mentioned in class. When I first started studying in HELP two years ago, I was so excited and happy to find out that HELP has been collaborating with many universities in South Korea and has been sending a lot of students for exchange programmes there. So, when I found out about the buddy programme, I decided to join and it was a good first step. Through the buddy programme, I got to make friends with a lot of Koreans, improved my Korean language proficiency and finally decided to join the short exchange programme. If the opportunity arises, I might even join the long term programme next time.
Back to my Summer School story, those 18 days were amazing and I cannot wait to talk about it and inspire more people to go and experience Korea themselves. Dankook University (DKU) is a well-known university in South Korea that has been running since 1947. It has two big campuses located in Jukjeon and Cheonan. The International Summer School 2017 took place in the Jukjeon Campus, which was more or less one hour away from the capital city Seoul. Out of the nine HELP students who participate in the Summer School this year, I travelled with Kim Ting on August 7, 2017. We met at KLIA 2, and were so excited about our departure. We were picked up by a DKU student called Park Won, and were brought straight to our campus dormitory. The Jukjeon Campus is a huge campus with a lot of buildings for different majors. And when I say huge, I mean, huge. You will need half a day to actually tour around the whole campus. Our dormitory building is called the Woongbi Hall, and our classes were located in the International Hall. Every morning, we had to walk for approximately 10 to 15 minutes reach our class. Well, everyone needs exercise, right?
Kim Ting turned out to be my roommate, and our room was on the third floor. The room was cozy with two single beds, two desks, two cupboards, a refrigerator, and also a bathroom. Just nice for the two of us. On the first day, we had our orientation programme and did our placement test. I was put in the advance class together with another HELP student called Farah. The class was just how I had expected it to be and it was a totally fun experience!
Since 2010, I have been learning Korean on my own, without any formal help. Basically, I managed to learn how the language works without really understanding its grammar. Therefore, I was really satisfied when I studied my textbook on the first day of class and felt that all my questions were finally answered. I was able to understand why some words or phrases were said or written the way they were. Moreover, the teachers were so fun and down to earth, and my classmates were amazing people. In my classroom, there were Malaysians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Russians, Taiwanese, a lot of Japanese, and myself, an Indonesian. The most amazing thing was that we all conversed in Korean! It was so fascinating to me at first. They were all so good in Korean, and I really learnt a lot from all of them. In three weeks, we had created a strong bond between us, and had promised to visit each other’s country in the future.
Three weeks flew by so fast. Even though our campus and dormitory was located quite far from Seoul, there was a direct bus from our campus to Gangnam, the heart of Seoul. We could travel easily to Seoul with that bus or take the subway every day. And yes, that was what we did. We explored famous locations in Seoul like Hongdae, Myeongdong, Gangnam, Itaewon, Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village, and so many more. By the second week, I literally felt like a local already. We also went on a Seoul Tour together with the entire group from the Summer School Session 2, and had an awesome dinner buffet in Namsan Tower.
Also, I got to meet some friends and buddies that I met in the Korean Buddy programme back in HELP. It was so nice to reunite with them and reminisce the good old days we had together when they were studying in Malaysia. Writing this article, I could not help but smile from ear to ear recalling the good days, good friends, and good times I had in Korea. I am so thankful to have been given this wonderful opportunity, and I believe this experience had added a lot of good values in my life. Thank you.