SITI NUR'ARINA AZWA BINTI SHEIKH SALAHUDDIN
Chemical Engineering (2nd Year 2nd Sem)
Middle East Technical University, Turkey
1. How did Student Exchange Programme (SEP) change your current life?
SEP has given me the opportunity to see and live on the other side of the world, learning a new lifestyle of a strange environment, language and food. In addition to this, being an exchange student has been an eye opener for me that there are so many things in life that are hard to achieve but possible with putting a little effort into it. Looking back at what I could not believe that I have achieved is the experience of travelling almost 17 hours alone, flying back to home country all by myself, as a girl who was only depending on the google translator to communicate and translated signs at the airport, is one of the biggest personal achievements in my life.
2. What can you gain from the SEP that you joined in last semester?
I am truly grateful that I managed to be in my proposed host university which is METU, Ankara, since I am well prepared for how the surrounding that I will have to cope with is. Early preparation in my studies journey if I have returned to UTP is very important in order to make sure that I can guarantee that I will have smooth semesters in the upcoming months after returning. I had classes for the same subjects with seniors in 3rd year study there, but this has not limited me from being able to communicate and work with them since I was totally prepared to mix around with their cultures and social life. This at the same time has taught me to be an outspoken person, in order to be welcomed by them.
3. Share the opportunities / benefits that you get from this programme.
As for my exchange programme, I was selected to be one of the Erasmus Students in METU Ankara, which has benefits me a lot in terms of money and connection with my advisors. They allocated a specific amount for us selected non-european and european students for our stays in METU with requirements of 30 ECTS credits minimum. It has been quite challenging for me since I had to deal with plenty of classes and maintain good results for me to not repeat the subject in my home university, but with determination and goals, I believed it is undeniably possible for everyone to pass it. This Erasmus Programme is one of a kind since not many have the opportunity to receive this huge amount of money, hence further references need to be done with both home university and host university advisors regarding this programme. It has given me a very great chance to utilize the money well especially for travelling and exploring this big country of Turkey.
Other than that, being an exchange student has widened my connection with friends and lecturers. I had the chance to be close with others from every part of the world, learning their languages and trying out each other's signature dishes from our home countries was the best part of it. We have unexpectedly created a very strong bond with one another when we had each other's backs during a few of events that were held there.
4. What is your advice to other UTP students who have yet to experience mobility programmes?
I strongly advised those who loved travelling and seeing new people to apply for this mobility programme and plan out your journey well, as it will be the most splendid experience you might want to cherish in the upcoming future. Study the course mapping that you have to do with the host university and choose the country that you think you are able to afford. Next, each country has their own attractions, be it a small country or even on the European coast. Dig in their hidden attractions and places and start to have goals to treasure them.
5. How did UTP help you to make your dreams to be an exchange student come true?
UTP has successfully helped me achieve my dreams to be able to travel across the world by approving me to go for this exchange. With the fund YUTP provided us after being selected for the interview, it was very useful for us all in terms of flight tickets, meals, accommodation and more. The most beautiful part of all is the experience gained from being able to be called a METU Student for months, which is once in a lifetime experience. The connection that UTP and this host university have has given me the chance to be part of the classes free of charge.
6. Any other opinion that you would like to share / highlight.
Being an exchange student is very challenging, people might only see the beauty in it, but it will be an unforgettable one if we really prepare mentally and physically. As for my journey, the coronavirus pandemic hit us in the midst of our exchange semester that I had to return back to my home country all by myself, due to the lockdown applied in Turkey. It was a challenging one for me to face it mentally that I will be sitting for online classes for the rest of the semester and that I had to leave my regrets of not being able to enter and explore a few more places in the country just yet. These are all the things we have to set in mind that we can set our feet again in that country with hopes and efforts in the future.
I would like to also highlight that if you are well-planned and smart enough to plan out your journey to go to the host country, you will get to visit other countries within the transit period too. As for our journey, we have stopped by Dubai UAE, for 23 hours of transit and got the chance to meet UTP friends who are doing their exchange in Abu Dhabi UAE. We have planned everything out earlier and we managed to spend hours on the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, tallest building and skyscraper in the world. As the saying goes, kill two birds with one stone. Be smart and plan well.