Spending more time in other countries gives you another experience that short trips can not give. This is because we can experience another country’s culture and get enough time to better understand another country. For this reason, many university students are doing a challenge through programs where they live one month in another country to improve their language skill and experience a new environment. I participated in our 'English program in Malaysia' in order to improve my English language skills, live in a new environment, experience a new culture, and meet various people. And now I will share my experience in Malaysia with you.
The English program is conducted through the University of UCSI in Malaysia, which is in contact with our university. UCSI University is located in Kuala Lumpur. It is a school where students of various races are studying in Malaysia by exchanging students with schools from all over the world. Kwak Min-ho, head of the International Exchange Team, explained that in the era of globalization, they are implementing a program to foster excellent students who are competitive, by giving them an opportunity to experience an English culture through the program.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is a buddy program. This program provided me a chance to interact with Malaysian students and learn new cultures. I traveled with them throughout Malaysia and learned the history and culture of Malaysia. It was a time to share our cultures with each other and learn about different beliefs to help understand various cultures. The regular English class program is divided into five classes according to the English level. Most students studied at levels 4 to 8, and in my case I studied at level 8. In my class, I had to make a presentation about one subject for 30 minutes before class, and write an essay every day. At first it was difficult to adapt to the class, since the teaching method is different than how it is in Korea. But I adapted and learned to understand the teaching method and I was able to converse with many students soon.
Outside of the regular program, I had enough time to travel in Malaysia. The most popular Malaysia tourist places are Merdeka Square and the city of Putrajaya. Merdeka Square is a historic place where the Malaysian flag was raised on August 31, 1957, when Malaysia became independent from Britain. In Merdeka Square, I learned about Malaysia’s history and how Malaysians regard and preserve their history.
Putrajaya is the location of the federal government in Malaysia. Here there are administrative institutions of Malaysia, religious buildings such as Putra Mosque, and tourist buildings including Putrajaya Independence Square. I visited the Putra Mosque and observed Islamic religious practices. I saw how they prayed and worshiped God. It was a new challenge to experience the Islamic culture, one that I could not easily encounter and it was also a time which helped me remove prejudices against Islam.
It was not an easy challenge to study English and learn new cultures for a month. However, I experienced and learned many things. I got answers to how powerful language is, how to understand, and how to respect and live with other cultures and people. Moreover, it was a time which I was able to find what life goals I want to pursue.
Song Jin-Uk, someone who did this program, said he found his goal in life of what he wants to pursue. He learned to better understand and respect various cultures, and he was able to study English easily and happily. If you are reading this article and would like to meet a variety of people in a new environment, and find your values and life goals, I would recommend this program without hesitation.