Lim Tien Chia - Korea University, South Korea
Being brought up in a strict family with overprotective parents, I had never imagined leaving home and living on my own for a good 5 months. But I was extremely blessed to be given the opportunity to go for an exchange to Korea University in South Korea, and it has changed my life in so many ways, on so many levels. It was over the world amazing. Even though it was barely half a year, it was truly, unquestionably a life changing experience.
I had independence and freedom. I was constantly being thrown out of my comfort zone. I enjoyed the challenges, although they caused anxiety and stress most of the time I enjoyed adventures and venturing into the unknown. I loved waking up every single day, feeling pumped to explore new corners. I learned to deal with my fears. I relearned about the things that I thought I already knew... and most of all, I got to know more about myself and make peace with myself.
My passion has always been in photography and social sciences, and Korea is perfect to feed my hunger for both. I had the privilege to travel around Korea and out of Seoul almost every other week. While most of my friends travelled to neighbouring countries, I chose to stay put to explore and experience Korea as much as I could, where I got to see different sides of the country and its hidden gems. Language barrier was definitely in the picture but I found it to be one of the main highlights of my exchange. As soon as I arrived, playing charades with the locals became part of my daily routine. Needless to say, it was human communication at its most basic and a very humbling learning experience indeed.
With more than 100 years of history, Korea University has a huge student population with more than 30,000 student admissions each year, and there were about one thousand exchange students during my term. Every corner of the campus is picturesque; the aesthetics are over the top stunning with charming buildings and beautiful nature as it sits in the hill. Lecturers are knowledgeable, very welcoming towards non-local students and very passionate about bringing Korean culture to international students. I got to learn a lot about the contemporary societal issues in Korean society, and I was exposed to the unconventional sides of Korea many don’t know about, or rather, simply underrepresented in media.
The challenge of being a minority in a foreign country and not being able to understand the common language definitely contributed to more fun and challenges. Korea is blessed with stunning and majestic landscapes and nature. Mountains surround the entire nation I found myself constantly at peace because I was greeted by the greens and blues almost everywhere I went. For such a small country, Korea is an excellent example of innovation and progression. It fully utilises what it has and constantly moves forward and towards more improvements while at the same time preserving and celebrating its history.
All in all, this experience has been so much more than I anticipated: lifelong friendships, diverse network, new perspective on life and many other priceless lessons. It has broadened my horizons with a change of scenery and culture.
- by Lim Tien Chia, Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences
Find out more information about Monash Abroad Inter-University exchange here.