So my name's Catarina. I am studying a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance. I just came back from Korea University International Summer Campus, in person, but last year I also did it, the Korea University International Summer Campus, but just online. So I did it virtually.
So last year I did, online, I did Mass Media and Popular Culture. So it was about like popular Culture, Korean popular culture and the way the media depicts it and stuff like that. And this time I was originally doing ah Korean Economics, but then I switched to learning Korean. So I learnt a little bit of Korean while over there.
Some of the highlights, it probably sounds super cliché, but the friends I made. So I have friends in America now and friends in different parts of Europe, so hopefully I'll be able to travel and meet them. But they made it so much more fun. I feel like I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if I didn't meet them.
Another experience – another highlight I'd have to say is probably feeling like I actually lived there instead of just feeling like it was an exchange. Like it felt like I actually lived in Korea for two months. I really got to know the area, got to know the people. So that was very much a big highlight for me.
I really enjoyed the subject I did online. Like the professor, he was excellent and he's one of the most, like highly sought after professors over there. So online I would have, like, because I couldn't have like the on campus experience, the subject was really, really good, like it was such an enjoyable subject.
Each Friday they had a different cultural activity. So the first week we went to Lotte World, which is like their amusement park over there. It was so disgustingly humid and hot, so that wasn't a lot of fun. And like the lines were like a three hour wait. But then the next Friday they did like a K-Pop dance, like flash mob. And the Friday after that there was taekwondo and Korean cooking. And then they had a Nanta show, which was like a theatrical cooking show they have over there. And then there was like Hyundai Motor Show, which I personally didn't attend. But that was a really good way, because that's how I met some of my friends that I made over there as well. It was, and to experience the culture in general, like I have never thought about doing taekwondo, but I had so much fun doing taekwondo, so I looked into doing it back here.
And the Korean cooking, like again, it was not something I would ever consider cooking here, but it was so easy and I've already cooked like for my mom back here. So that was a really, I think was a really good way for the university to create environments, to meet people as well, and to also experience the Korean culture.
I think some of the key skills from the program would be just talking to all different types of people because you're meeting so many different like I met people from Germany, I met people from different parts of America and like they're just different In themselves, people from different parts of Europe, like all these different parts of Asia as well, like Hong Kong, Singapore. So I think being able to talk to different types of people and be comfortable with those different type because we’re all kind of just shoved together in this environment, so being comfortable enough to go up to people and be able to start making conversation and trying to relate to them, I think is one of the big skills from I would have learnt from the program.
Going overseas by myself, as a female traveller, and to a non-English speaking country really did build my confidence and being resilient. So I feel so much more confident myself just here in Australia, which is an English speaking country in my home country, but also to travel by myself in other parts of the world.
I think after doing the program and building that resilience and confidence definitely can translate into the workforce. I feel like I personally can now go into the workforce a lot more sure of myself, than prior to doing the program.
I don't want to say yes, but yes, I like a little bit because I feel like a lot of employers see it as More, like a bit more independent in a sense like that. And it kind of does look good on a resume, I feel, because like you went, like me personally, I went by myself, like I didn't know anyone else. So it really goes to show like I'm keen to go out there and like, do things and stuff like that. So I think a little bit it does kind of make a difference. And in all the interviews I've done for like graduate positions, they always ask about my international like even when I did it online, they've always asked about like my international learning experiences.
I originally thought I wasn't getting the grant, but it definitely did help, like it really made a difference because it paid for my accommodation and it paid my tuition, so that was extra money I had back to spend it on because I changed my plans and went travelling at the end. So that was more money that I felt like I felt more comfortable being over there in case like an emergency again, like, or if something came up. So the grant did, even though it wasn't something I originally thought I would have access to, it definitely did make a very big difference. And also like that's the original, like the grant last year was the reason I applied.
I would not have believed anyone telling me three years ago I would be doing a student exchange to Korea. I think, like it definitely was not something I considered like doing. Like I was, I considered going on an exchange to America but did not think of doing Korea at all.
Not that it wasn't on the cards, but there was other parts of Asia I would have preferred to go to first. Like I really, before COVID hit, I was meant to go to Japan, but Korea wasn't really on the cards. And then it came up last year because we got the email about the grant and the Korea University International Summer Campus program, and I thought it was a good time to kind of knock out an elective, but also experience a different university online. And then when it came up again this year, because I enjoyed it so much last year, I was like, Oh, why don't I try it in person? And I'm so glad I did.
So Wollongong was actually really quite helpful during the program, especially BAL mobility and stuff. But Maria was also really helpful just making me feel settled in and also feeling like I had support back here because going overseas by myself to a country that doesn’t speak English, I was really quite scared and obviously had my family back here and they were obviously supportive and stuff like that. But also having the university back me up and also providing me that grant just kind of made me feel a little bit more secure and like that I had someone to talk to me if I really needed to, university wise. And then Maria herself, like Maria Kim She made it again because she is a like a lecturer here and a tutor, I was a bit, it feels a bit more like ah there's a professional line, but coz she messaged and reached out herself and was like, she has contacts in Korea, that also made me feel so much safer and a lot more comfortable arriving in Korea by myself because I didn't know anyone over there. I did not know anyone. So going over there and knowing that if I was really, really scared, I had Maria to go to and she would message her friends over there or her family over there to to help us out. So that really, really helped.
If you don't think an international experience is for yourself, I was in the exact same boat. I really didn't think, especially because COVID hit, and then I was meant to be in my last Year, so I being so close to graduation, I really didn't think it would have been possible for me. But doing like a short course program that was an elective because I had an elective still to do, it Knocked that out for me. So it made this semester a lot easier for me. So look into what you can do, like what it's going to be if you can transfer over. Because I wasn't I really didn't think would be for me. I was so hesitant to go and do it. Like I remember speaking to my best friend for like months before applying, and being like, should I actually do it? And she was like it'd be such a good experience and if you don't like it, you still have the experience under your Belt. But you, everyone will love it like so, def- 100%. If you're slightly hesitant, do it. Like that, it's my, just go and do it because it will, it will change your life. It definitely changed mine.
I think if you're considering doing an online international experience to 100% do it because it one, it looks really good on a resume. It's an international experience and you don't even have to leave like your own home. You don't have to pay for flights, You don’t have to pay for accommodation And to have all this extra cost. So it makes it a lot more cheaper. And it's just an elective, if or if you might be able to do a subject that's a core subject here, it's something you can knock off and still have like an international experience.