I will take you on a trip to Korea via my experiences. You may have a dream to travel, study abroad and many questions besides this dream. Here is my Korea journey, which will help you to imagine and take action to study abroad as an exchange student.
Im Feyza Çalişkan, studying Business Administration at the Abdullah Gül University. I’m one of the students who enrolled to AGU in 2013. After high school it was difficult to decide which university to choose. I was sure about my major, but choosing a university was very complicated. I finally decided to join AGU and I could never imagine that this university would change my life that much. From that day until today, I believe that what I have accomplished goes beyond my expectations.
My first advantage in this AGU adventure was to go to the USA, where I had the chance to participate in a 2-month language school program. It changed my whole take on life. Although I was very excited about going to the US, I also had worries about going abroad: “how can I live there? I can’t speak English, I won’t survive there…”
Then what happened, is that I changed a lot when I came back from the USA. It improved my English and made me gain a lot of maturity. I had a feeling that I could go anywhere in the world!
After my first experience in the USA, I started to dream big.
At the end of my third year at AGU, I got a summer internship in Chicago, working for the Turkish Consulate.
Discovering International Opportunities
During the 2016 Fall Semester, AGU announced the names of the universities we have partnerships with and that we had the chance to go to another country as exchange students. When I first saw the email, I was so excited to experience new things in my life.
There were many options, such as Mexico, Malaysia, South Korea etc.
I had always been interested in Korean culture and language. This was a great opportunity to start learning a new language and to improve myself. Instead of living a stable life, I wanted new challenges in my life.
Applying for a Korean Exchange Program
After collecting information on partner universities, we decided on 3 universities. Based on our English level and GPA , we were ranked in a list. During that time, AGU had fewer students, which made my process even easier. There were several universities in Korea but after a lot of research, I decided to go to Solbridge International School of Business, located in Daejeon !
Arrival and First Impressions
Kindness − Safety −Language
These are the 3 main points summarizing my first impression of South Korea.
People are so kind: even though the majority of Koreans cannot speak English, they are always willing to help you. Korea is such a safe place; the crime rate is very low. People trust each other and no one steals your belongings, even if you left them behind in a coffee shop or restaurant. At the beginning it was hard for me to get used to this behavior.
But Solbridge helped me a lot to adapt to life in Korea. We had an orientation week, during which we had several activities to learn more about the environment and Solbridge, from 7:30 am to 9 pm. They also helped us with administrative and immigration processes. After all, starting the new semester was easy.
My Personal Development at Solbridge
Solbridge is an international school and all courses are taught in English. They help their students become a “global person”. Every semester they have many exchange students from several countries. Currently, there are 55 nationalities on the Solbridge campus.
The curriculum provides a broad choice of Elective courses, in order to help students develop their soft and analytical skills. There are Chinese and Korean language courses. That was a great opportunity for me to see different kinds of professors.
Solbridge helped me to improve my hard skills a lot. I took the Korean language course for one semester and, day-by-day, living in Korea became easier. Right now my goal is to improve my Korean level. It will help me to get job opportunities in Korea.
There are several courses I also want to mention; such as the Business Management simulation course, for which you manage an online company with your group members during one semester. You choose a strategy and apply all your knowledge on marketing to finance from that class.
The Negotiation class is another effective class at Solbridge; negotiation is very important for every aspect of life, not only for business student. I believe learning how to effectively negotiate will help me be successful in my future career.
When I started at Solbridge, during the 2017 Spring semester, I applied as an associate in the Student Council. They accepted me and it was a great chance for me to really became a part of Solbridge, instead of staying an outsider. As associates, we helped organize all of the events, excursions and several activities at Solbridge.
Solbridge makes you a global person. Even though I don’t get to travel all around the world, I can discover many cultures and observe different cultural behaviors at Solbridge. I had friends from several Countries, such as Germany, Africa, Malaysia, Mexico, Indonesia, Uzbekistan…..etc.
In addition to that, I joined a volunteer club called “SOL-Caring Volunteers Club”. There are several volunteering opportunities in this club, such as helping the homeless, teaching English to high school students, going to the dog shelter and taking care of them.
I’m teaching English to high school students and helping out at the dog shelter.
Discovering myself in South Korea
I discovered myself while living in Korea. Being alone in a foreign country brought new challenges and it was great fun to handle all of them.
I got a job offer from a company located in Canada, during my first semester in Korea. They wanted me to work for them as a photographer. That was a great opportunity and I started to earn money by taking photos in Korea. I had several models for my job.
Organizing the models, concepts and managing everything was a different experience for me and we had some funny memories too, during that time.
After one semester, I applied as a peer group leader for the orientation week. They accepted me and it was such a success for me. In the first semester, someone was guiding me during the orientation week and I got the chance to do the same for someone else in the second semester.
I gained a lot of experience during the orientation week. I had 11 students in my team and I helped them to adapt to life in Korea and at Solbridge during the course of this week.
During the Spring semester, Solbridge joins sports competitions: 2-day competitions against other universities. I participated in the Sports Day as a dodge ball player. We finished third in the competition, but it was a lot of fun.
When I look at my life today, I feel so lucky and thankful.
I never regretted my decision. We must be brave to get what we want; whatever the results, we will learn from the experience.
I am thankful that AGU’s International Office created this wonderful partnership and gave me the opportunity to take advantage of it. I also would like to thank Lenka Karafiatova, who was working at the AGU Exchange/Youth Office when I first applied to this program. She helped me greatly to start this nice adventure!
At the end of this fall semester, I will be back in Turkey and look forward to seeing my AGU friends again Hopefully, the next AGU students to come to Solbridge will enjoy it even more their exchange experience than I did.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Check my instagram account to see more photos of my adventure: feyzaclskan