The college environment is usually much more diverse than the primary and secondary schools. Students from various regions throughout the archipelago gather in one area to learn from each other and exchange ideas. Not infrequently, foreign students also participated in education in Indonesia, as in the case at Parahyangan Catholic University (Unpar).
Nayeon Ha (familiarly called Luna) is a student of the International Relations Study Program (Prodi HI) of Unpar, originating from South Korea. She expressed her great desire to study International Relations, which has grown since she was in junior high school (SMP). In addition, she wanted to study in a developing country that is likely to become a developed country. Of the four countries that she found, Indonesia ended up as her main choice.
” (I) Google Search, and yielded four countries, (ie) Brazil, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia. Then, when I compared the four countries, the one that suited me was Indonesia because the market is quite large and its chance of becoming a developed country is also quite high, “she said.
She had been looking for universities that are often deemed to have the best HI Prodi in Indonesia, including Universitas Gadja Mada (UGM) and Universitas Indonesia (UI). When she visited Indonesia, she heard that UGM and Unpar have the best HI Prodi. Although initially confused in choosing, her parents suggested to choose a city that according to Luna is most comfortable. “So yes, (I) selected Bandung, yes because the weather is good and easier to reach from Jakarta,” she said with a smile remembering the first time she set foot on the Pasundan soil.
Challenges of Being a Foreign Student
Since first coming to Bandung in 2011, Luna started to learn Bahasa Indonesia in one of the foundations that gives special lessons for foreigners. One year later, she officially became an Unpar student. According to Luna, learning Indonesian is not as difficult as learning Korean language because the grammar is much simpler, although she admitted the difficulty of learning affixes.
The first year she became a student, she admitted to having difficulties due to the language barrier. The language used in the course had been very different from the everyday conversation. However, her classmates often helped Luna to understand all of the materials.
“Initially in semesters one and two I really could not understand anything. So, what the lecturer wrote in front (of the class), I copied it again. Later, after returning home I re-read it or asked friends. The classmates were very helpful, (they are) really good! “she said.
In addition, she admitted to having difficulties facing general courses (MKU), such as Citizenship, Pancasila Education, Bahasa Indonesia, and others. Because, some MKU had to be taken by first-year students, while she had just come to grips with the Indonesian language and not yet comprehended about Pancasila or Citizenship. It made her first year quite challenging.
“As for the HI courses I can (understand) because lecturers also use English and the book is similar (with the ones at home). But, if it’s like academic writing, it’s really hard. Pancasila was really hard, so I had to repeat in semester six. She had to repeat All MKU. “MKUs were the most difficult,” she said while holding back laughter.
For Luna, friends in Bandung help each other. While in in boarding house, her friends often help understand the material when the exam and the assignment were looming. So she really missed Bandung when she was back in South Korea.
Being an expat also raises other challenges. Missing home cooking, family, and much more. Luna often missed Korean food, but because Korean restaurants have mushroomed, it was enough to treat her sense of homesickness. She often cooks Korean food at her residence. Her two cousins were educated at Prodi HI and Business Administration hence, her sense of homesickness and speaking in Korean was somewhat lessened.
Now, the final year student is preparing a thesis and hopes to sit her exam in July. She said that after completing her studies at Unpar, she will continue her postgraduate degree in Seoul, South Korea. In recent weeks, she had returned to South Korea to accompany the civil servants (PNS) from Bandung. The Bandung City government entourage visited the project sites in South Korea as teaching materials and examples to be implemented, such as toll roads and ports.
On that occasion, Luna was trusted to be the translator for both parties. Although, she admitted to having difficulties with development terminology unfamiliar to her. “So, (I) accompanied and explained the technology. (It’s) Difficult (to translate it) because the words should be formal and many translations dealing with the development that I was still unfamiliar with, like hydroelectric, diesel, and PLTG. They are different from HI, “she said with a laugh.