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Global Summer Experiences: student experiences

Read about King's student's Global Summer Experiences, including in China, Korea, Mexico and Hong Kong, and find out if aexperiences of studying abroad in Australasia, and find out what life is like studying as a King's student at a partner university.  Please note that although the content is very comprehensive, covering issues from housing to recommended activities, the Global Mobility team are able to help identify any further outstanding information.

China

Soumia Arif, Summer of 2015 at Shanghai Jiao Tong University

What do you study at King's?   

Geography BA

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?                                            

Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?

My time in China shaped me into becoming a more open-minded individual. I learnt very early on that things that were done differently, were just that: different, not necessarily wrong. It was appreciating this and broadening my perspective that I in turn learnt so much more about Chinese culture and cultural appropriation in general. My Global Summer Experience influenced me to embrace unfamiliar things with even more enthusiasm and optimism than a previously had!

What skills do you think you gained from your Global Summer Experience?

My summer experience was instrumental in teaching me so many new skills; from something as obvious as grasping a few words of Chinese, to competently eating with chopsticks, I feel like I learnt something new each day. Skills that I already had were strengthened, whilst the new and challenging environment provided an environment for me to allow my self-development to thrive. Everyday interpersonal skills were improved tenfold, especially when you become reliant on forming relationships by taking extra time to break down barriers of language and misunderstanding. Transferable skills like this have helped me in a lot of situations since returning and, I believe, have made me both a better independent worker and team player.

How did you apply?

I attended an information event during second semester where a presentation was given about applying for single semester study abroad for the next academic year. Initially I had never considered applying for the summer programme, however we were informed that the deadline for applications was in fact that day. I went home, had a look and decided to apply! I applied via the online application portal and heard back relatively soon after about my application being successful. I then completed a secondary application with Shanghai Jiao Tong University itself, where I submitted a letter of motivation, specified the modules I was most interested in and organised accommodation.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it? 

 The biggest and most challenging thing that I faced whilst in China was completely unexpected. At first I had thought it would be most likely be the language or culture that created barriers, but to my surprise this was not the case at all! On my arrival I was directed to my room and was met by quite a strange smell and level of cleanliness I wasn’t used to. Initially my gut reaction was to head back to the airport but reflecting in hindsight, I am so glad that I dealt with the issue differently. I contacted the facilities manager at the accommodation where I was staying, as well as the course convenor and the Study abroad office at King’s. After some persistence, a lot of patience and even more help from Google translate, the facilities manager organised to have my room thoroughly cleaned and for me to have an alternative room for the time being.

In the moment the situation seemed a thousand times worse than when I look back on it now; being jetlagged, in a state of culture shock and not knowing who to speak to and what to do definitely exaggerated the severity of the situation in my mind. I constantly tried to reassure myself by putting things into perspective and recognising that accommodation was only one aspect of the experience. I focussed all of the amazing opportunities that would be offered to me whilst in China and the prospect of these helped motivate me to look past the present moment. What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?                             

Immersing myself in Chinese culture has to rank as the highlight of my time in China. Far less people spoke English compared to what I had initially expected, which as a result encouraged me to learn as much of the language as I could. It is common for so many places to almost feel homogeneous, boasting the same high street stores as the next country; this is something that China was definitely an exception to, which I loved! Not only was I amazed and intrigued by my new surroundings and the people I was meeting, but they also reciprocated this interest and were so enthusiastic to learn about my culture and values. I found these interactions so enriching, I was made to feel at home somewhere so far from home and that in itself made the whole experience what it was!

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?

Global Summer Experiences are such an amazing opportunity, they give you the chance to experience a completely different culture to your own for a short while. If you are considering studying abroad for a semester or the year, going on a summer experience would give you an ideal insight into studying abroad for a period before the semester itself. Research the destinations that are available to you and choose somewhere that really appeals to you, so that when you get there you are open to the opportunities that present themselves. Other than that, the most important thing is to accept the adventure and make the most of it; it really is a journey of a lifetime!

 

Cory Prestion, Summer 2013 at Renmin University of China, Beijing

What do you study at King's?
Philosophy BA

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?
Renmin University of China (RUC), Beijing, China

How did you apply?
The initial application process was not particularly long, it involved filling in an application form, writing a short personal statement (500 words) and obtaining an academic reference. This was so that the study abroad office could narrow down who would be funded for a place at RUC. The study abroad office were available to answer questions.

Once this process was over, and the office had chosen 6 students to submit as applicants to the university we then filled in the RUC online application form. This was followed by a request for a hard copy of the form and photocopies of passport and (if applicable) previous visa application successes to China.

The process was fairly straight-forward and the forms were self-explanatory. Any questions were addressed to the study abroad office or directly to a representative at RUC. The process began in the beginning of March and everything, including visas and flights were finalised by mid June. The placement began in the beginning of July.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience?  How did you overcome it?
Although I had been learning Mandarin for a year before I studied in the summer the language barrier was still a bit of a challenge. Although many young people in China can speak English to a high standard the people that you will deal with on a more frequent basis, to order food, buy train tickets etc, cannot.

This only became a problem if you were more keen to explore alone and go off the beaten track a bit – which is by no means necessary, it is very easy to survive and enjoy yourself by seldom leaving the campus.

I was able to overcome any language barriers by contacting friends that I already had in China, as well as networking beforehand to make new contacts at RUC. During my stay I was also able to make new friends from Hong Kong and Macao that could also help with language difficulties.

In addition to that, the best way to overcome the language barrier was to smile, be enthusiastic and try my best – as well of studying hard of course!

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
The highlight of the placement was being able to make the friends that I did during my time at RUC.  If I had not taken part in the placement I would never had met such a variety of people that I am still in contact with now.  What's more, meeting those people really enriched my experience and allowed me to travel during and after I finished the placement.  Beijing has so many beautiful sites and there are cheap flights and high speed trains to get you to so many other places in the country.  For me, a real highlight was climbing Mount Tai, one of China's five sacred mountains as well as travelling to the Kaiping Dialou in Guandong province.  In addition I now have great friends coming from some of the most beautiful parts of China (and the rest of the world) that I can visit in the future!

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?
The placement greatly influenced my studies. I applied for the placement because I wanted to know what it was like to be a student at a Chinese university. I wanted to know this because I wanted to find out if I would enjoy studying in China in the future – I decided that I would and that has influenced me to begin applying to study in China once I graduate. The language classes I undertook at RUC were intense but incredibly fulfilling and I believe that I achieved a lot. I was also able to learn about Confucian philosophy, this allowed me to broaden the scope of my current research and opened my mind to the benefits of comparative philosophy. This has influenced me to undertake further research into Chinese philosophy in my spare time.

The placement influenced me personally in that it gave me more confidence to travel in a big city without a guide and without support. It also influenced me in reaffirming my desire to travel in the future as well as live and work in China.

What skills do you think your gained from your Global Summer Experience?
I had lived in China previous to this experience and so was not expecting too many culture shocks. However, I did learn a great deal about other cultures from all over the world as the summer school had a truly international vibe. 

On a more practical note I learnt a lot about a different way of studying. I learnt to be more focused and hardworking as well as more dedicated to my studies. This is something that I learnt from time spent with Chinese friends.

I was able to reinforce skills that I had learnt from living in China before, to be open-minded and curious about other ways of living.

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?
The one piece of advice I would give is: do it ! No matter what kinds of worries you are having, there is something to be gained for everyone. It’s an incredibly interesting and fulfilling experience and there’s nothing quite like being a student in another city – you have a great balance between studying and exploring. In conjunction with that, the best way to overcome fears is just to get on and do it; you will be surprised at how well you cope.

Hong Kong

Ting-Ting Hu, Summer 2014 at Hong Kong University

What do you study?

Mathematics with Management and Finance BSc

Where did you Global Summer Experience Take place?
Hong Kong University (Global Business in Asia programme)

How did you apply?
I began looking at the different Summer Programmes offered by King's' partner universities very early on in the year. There are so many different summer programmes on offer at fantastic universities all around the world so it took me a while to decide which one I wanted to apply for. KCL Study Abroad also held a really informative presentation on summer programmes which listed the number of exchange places available at each partner institution. I completed the King’s online summer programme application form, which asks you to describe why you chose your study abroad destinations and programmes. Next, I had to complete HKU’s online application, which required a short essay about why I wanted to join the programme. I was then invited to a Skype interview with the programme’s Associate Dean (most other programmes don’t require an interview but check the application process for each university programme). The next day I received an email telling me that I had been offered a place on the GBIA programme along with a scholarship that King’s had nominated me for. Throughout the whole process the KCL Study Abroad team were always there to answer any questions I had and to offer help and advice at every stage.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge that I experienced while I was overseas was not having open access to Google and Gmail when I was in China. However, HKU have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which all students can use so it wasn’t that bad.

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
The highlight of the placement was meeting students from all over the world and making friendships that last for well beyond the duration of the programme.

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?
In terms of my studies, I now have new insights into the Chinese economy which I can apply to my current courses. The GBIA programme has also given me a new perspective on business and marketing within Asia, enabling me to compare this with what I have learnt at King’s. On a personal level, the GBIA programme influenced me massively. Even though the programme was only four weeks in duration, I could definitely see myself living and working in Shanghai or Hong Kong one day. If it hadn’t been for GBIA I doubt I would have considered working in Shanghai in the future but it is now a possibility!

What skills do you think you gained on your Global Summer Experience?
I definitely think I became more culturally aware: not only from my surroundings, but also from the other international students that I met. 

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?
JUST DO IT! Trust me, it will be an unforgettable experience that you won’t regret. Also, subscribe to the KCL study abroad emails so that you don’t miss any important events and information.

Anything else?
It was the best Summer I’ve ever had.

Japan

Aysana Dallali, Summer 2018 at Ochanomizu University

Ochanomizu University was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget. I was welcomed warmly on my first day by the kind lecturers. Despite our language barrier, the Japanese students tried their best to communicate in English and lifelong friendships were made. Classes are fun and interactive and everyone is encouraged to ask questions! Most days we had classes until midday and then we were free to explore Tokyo.

The streets were clean, not a litter in sight. Passers by would stop and even change their route just to help me get to where I needed to be! On our days off, my friends and I planned a trip to Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko. To this day, I still remember the views clearly in my head! On my last day, my friends and the Japanese friends we made, went out for ice cream where we enjoyed the area of Bunkyo for the very last time.

I still keep in touch with them and recently sent a postcard which they thanked me for and I also received letters and gifts from them! I wanted to thank King’s for giving me the opportunity and for constantly taking care and checking up on us throughout the trip.

I can’t stress enough that this summer school is a must! 

Aysana Dallali

Loay Rahman, Summer 2018 at Ochanomizu University

My aim from this summer programme was to understand the natural sciences in greater detail. As a medical student, I felt it was imperative to broaden my horizons and explore a field that has always fascinated me.

Additionally, I have always been interested in far East Asia, and felt this opportunity would allow me to indulge in Japanese culture by exploring its most populated city and trying the incredible food!

As well as this, I wanted the opportunity to meet people from all around the world with different backgrounds, and felt this would give me the chance to identify cultural differences and similarities to the UK.

This course encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and work with people who I did not previously know. It gave me a better understanding of East Asian culture and people, which I feel is very important when working in a multicultural city such as London.

Ochanomziu

Loay with his group on a field trip to the Medicine Museum to identify a topic for their presentation.

Nimrah Jamil, Summer 2018 at Ochanomizu University

Spending my summer at ochanomizu last year was really great. Myself and my two colleagues went together and it was one of the best experiences we’ve had to date. The university offers a lot more than just education, it was a chance for us to meet people from all over the world who had decided to take the trip to Japan and experience this course. Everyone was so lovely and the course was well structured, providing small field trips and group work to help with our studies and help get a feel of how things are in different countries, not only Japan.Nimra Jamil

Korea

Adam Elshimi, Summer 2014 at Korea University, Seoul

What do you study at King's?
Mathmatics BSc

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?
Korea University

How did you apply?
The application process was straight forward. It consisted of two main parts: 1) the application to the KCL study abroad team, which they filter down through their criteria and 2) the completion of the application with the external institution.

The first part compromised of relevant questions to the choice of the programme and the institution. This was fairly small and won't take any longer than 15 - 20 minutes of your time. The second part had several requirements before I could guarantee a place in their institution such as; references, passport photocopy, payments and confirmation from KCL, all of which was very easily done. The biggest complication came from paying the fees online, which I encountered early on in the process and I recommend anyone that wish to avoid any inconvenience in the future make sure to get it done ASAP. 

In any case I found the KCL study abroad team to be amazing at helping me with all the different parts of applications and in assisting me with choosing the right place for me.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I found while I was overseas was not having a clear and comprehensive schedule for travelling around the city or even the country. When I was in South Korea, many activities was organised in a weekly bases, however it does not even scratch the surface when trying to experience the best out of a city and trying to unravel its long history that is printed across the country. The way I was able to overcome this problem was by relying on two things: 1) self-preparation - not having to fully rely on people to experience what I want from a country, and 2) building good relationships with local students, especially those who work at the university.

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
My highlight was definitely all the different people I met from all over the world and the experiences, memories and friendship you make with them. Knowing that I can travel to so many different places in the future and be able to meet friends I once met in my study abroad programme, makes it the best thing about studying abroad.

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?
In regards to my studies the programme opened my eyes to so many different things relating to my current degree. The broad range of different subjects that the university had to offer allowed me to gain insights into my subject, which I otherwise would never have. Ultimately, this has led me discovering related interest in fields that intersect with mine and now influenced me in choosing my last year units and a Masters degree in the future. In addition to this, my summer programme has given me many new skills, which i personally have experienced having now come back to KCL, that is my views, values and perception of the world are now more matured and nuanced then ever before.

What skills do you think you gained from your Global Summer Experience?
My summer programme has given me many new skills, which I have experienced having now come back to KCL, such as; my ability to communicate to different people from all over the world. I gained the independence that is required to be able to go out in the world and most importantly am now able to put myself in uncomfortable situations more often-I learnt that is the only way to grow as a person.

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?
Choose a programme that will make you feel uncomfortable and make a decision on knew experiences and not existing associations of a "good idea".

Don't think too much about it, just do it!

Chiong Si Hui Joyce, Summer 2014 at Seoul National University

What do you study at King's?
Political Economy BA

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?
Seoul National University

How did you apply?
It was just a short form to be submitted to the Study Abroad Office, who then forwarded my name to SNU when I was chosen for the program. SNU then contacted me in May to register for courses and dorms. It was a very quick process and the SNU staff were extremely helpful and efficient - the only difficult part was navigating the Korean websites, but the SNU staff provided detailed guides to get us through that as well.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it?
Summer school at SNU packs the entire workload of a semester module into six weeks, so I had to get used to very short contact times in my course, eight-hour school days and a heavier load of assignments for the course-all on top of wanting to leave time to enjoy being in Seoul. I overcame this by working together with some great people I met at the summer school - we encouraged each other and each got various recommendations from friends so that we could all go out after classes to explore together and have fun together!

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
Meeting my Korean friends in their home towns - they were so excited to show me parts of their own areas, like the best restaurants and attractions around. I was able to relate to issues from their cultural and political contexts, which made them even more excited to share their Korean culture.

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?
I chose courses that complimented my degree at King's, which really provided an Asian perspective on my politics learning. This made even more of an impact on me, as an Asian, as I was also given the opportunity to understand my heritage on a deeper level.

What skills do you think you gained on your Global Summer Experience?
Being in Korea pushed me to be better at thinking on the spot. Being in a foreign country that has a foreign language, I often got lost or could not understand what people said to me. To manage, we just had to try harder to communicate and find new ways to solve problems, or be more open to seeking help from others.

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?
Be open-minded and try everything the experience has to offer. I tried eating silkworms!

Rhianne Menzies, Summer 2014 at Yonsei University, Seoul

What do you study at King's?
Geography BSc

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?
Yonsei University

How did you apply?
I filled in a fairly simple application, where I was then notified by KCL that I had been nominated for Yonsei's programme with the following steps I had to take. After this, all the processes where passed onto Yonsei, where I applied for housing, scholarship, courses etc. (however this can only be done on internet explorer due to Korean computer security laws!).

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it?
Adjusting to the strong cultural traditions that Korea has, such as a prominent age hierarchy. All it requires is giving respect to others around you, especially Korea's elderly (who won't refrain from shouting at you if you don't!).

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
A weekend trip down to Busan to see a childhood friend I hadn't seen in years!

How did you Global Summer Experience influence you?
It gave me the option to explore courses not necessarily available at King's, such as spending 3 hours a day in Korean language classes. 

What skills do you think you gained from your Global Summer Experience?
Some new (and still fairly basic) language skills.

What advice would you give others considering a Global Summer Experience?
It gives you the chance to do something different with your summer, so why not try it?

Mexico

Inti Mantripp, Summer 2014 at Tecnológico de Monterrey

What do you study at King's
Physics and Philosophy BSc

Where did your Global Summer Experience take place?
Tecnológico de Monterrey-Querétaro campus

How did you apply?
Applying was a varied experience. The Study Abroad department at King's were excellent, and that part was absolutely stress free. The Mexican system takes getting used to! 

What was the biggest challenge that you faced on your Global Summer Experience? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was probably having to leave. It was so sad saying farewell to all the awesome people I'd spent time with. I suppose the hardest part other than that was improving my Spanish-but this wasn't particularly a challenge, simply part of the stay and something fun to do with others.

What was the highlight of your Global Summer Experience?
Every weekend we would visit somewhere new, either through a trip organised by the International Department or something we would do ourselves. They were all excellent and it's impossible to pick out one. Some of the best were a trip to the beach resort Ixtapa (next to the town of Ziihuatanejo - from Shawshank Redemption) and a weekend spent in Guanajuato though.

How did your Global Summer Experience influence you?
My Spanish vastly improved and I'm more keen to garner skills outside of my specific subject. Personally, I learnt that saying 'Yes' to things is nearly always worthwhile. The experience also definitely influenced my palette for the better. Mexican food is the best!

What skills do you think you gained from your Global Summer Experience?
Meeting new people exposes you to new ways of thinking and a new culture, which is always valuable and mind opening. My Spanish improved vastly, I made friends from many different countries and now I am aware of my options available to me in the future.

What advice would you give to others considering a Global Summer Experience?
If you think you'll enjoy it then just do it. Say yes and throw yourself into something new.


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