María Fernanda Peña, Global Business, Hallym University, Korea.

When you entered Uni, did you know there were international programs?

At the time I entered the university I did not know about the exchange programs.

At what point and why did you start thinking about applying for a scholarship and studying in another country?

I started to apply since I entered the fifth semester, first of all, because I saw that the University of Celaya has an agreement with a university in South Korea, Hallym University, from there I started to look for what I needed to do to be able to go to study in that country, since the idea of studying there for a semester made me very excited, UNI guides and accompanies us to achieve it.

Why did you decide to study in that country?

For many years I have had a great interest in the country and its culture, so when I found out that there was an exchange program I was interested in participating.

How was the scholarship application process?

I started applying since my fifth semester for the scholarship and was not selected, so I approached the people who had already gone or were about to go to Hallym to ask them what I needed to improve in order to be able to go to South Korea to study for a semester.

How did you prepare for this new experience?

Being a country where the language and culture are completely different from what I know, I studied basic phrases and resumed language classes to be able to read and write in Korean. I also applied to another scholarship offered by the Uni, about online courses on social and cultural aspects of South Korea, with Hallym University, which helped me to know in advance important aspects to consider at the time of arrival, but above all keep an open mind to change and the different, just what excited me most about leaving was the challenge of living in a totally different country in language, culture, food, etc..

How did you feel when you arrived in the new country?

I was nervous about all the changes that were coming, but also very excited to get to know the country, new people, the culture, everything excited me.

How have you been received at the university where you arrived?

We were very well received, first they gave us a talk to reiterate important aspects and give us credentials and then they gave us a small tour of the university, they took pictures and explained to us the events they were going to have in Hallym to be aware and to be able to attend, as well as another more detailed tour to know the whole campus. Both the university staff and the students were very friendly at all times.

What did you miss most about Mexico and UNI?
What I missed most was my family and friends.

What is the most exciting thing you have experienced so far in this experience? And the most difficult?

The most exciting thing is that every day was a new adventure, something to know, to try, new people and to be able to visit completely different places.

The hardest part was adjusting to the time difference to be able to talk to my family and friends.

How do you think this experience will influence you as a person and professionally?

In short, this experience had an impact on me, both personally and at work. Being able to live abroad helped me to develop fundamental skills for life and work, such as the ability to adapt to new environments, to practice and perfect the English language at a conversational level and in this case to learn a new language which is Korean, to relate to all kinds of people, as well as to get to know another educational and work level different from what I have lived. 

What advice would you give to those who are about to go on exchange to another country?

I would tell them to enjoy every day to the fullest, to know and live new experiences, to go with a very open mind to everything that is to come, not to be afraid of change, to dare to do different things, to try all the typical food of the country, not to be embarrassed and open to meet and talk to everyone, to know how to manage and take care of their money but without depriving themselves of living or trying new things, not to put aside the study because we have the obligation to comply in academics.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience, learn as much as you can and have an amazing time.

Would you recommend these opportunities offered by UNI to your colleagues?

I recommend it one hundred percent, the Uni has agreements with excellent universities abroad, the scholarship program is a huge economic support, this program is made for us, so that we grow and develop as better people and better professionals, so I consider it a great opportunity that I hope all students can live and know how to take advantage of.

I am very grateful to Uni for choosing me to participate in the program last semester and very grateful to Hallym University in South Korea for welcoming us so well and making our stay in the country wonderful.