“Have a Global Coffee with” is a series of interviews of ANU exchange returnees and students currently on exchange, about their experiences abroad. The student we met this week, is Matthew, who was selected to go on the PRIMO short program “Winter Abroad at Yonsei” in South Korea last year. PRIMO programs are tailored for ANU First-Year students.

Hi Matthew, thank you for meeting with us 🙂 tell us, why did you apply for this program in South Korea?

I applied for this program, because I wanted to experience something new and expand my horizons by studying overseas. I come from a country town in NSW and that’s why I was really enthusiastic to experience more of the world. It is great to see how people live their life differently in diverse countries. Furthermore, I didn’t know a lot about Korea before, so I thought this could be a good opportunity to get a bit of knowledge about something which I hadn’t experienced before. In the course I enrolled in at Yonsei, I learned about Korean history and society.

How did you hear about the program?

I saw the ad of this program on the Global Programs Facebook-Page and I realised that I really wanted to apply, but I didn’t expect to get in. In the end, I was lucky enough to get one of the grants which really helped out and I am so thankful for that.

Would you recommend this program to other First-Year students? What did you get out of the experience?

Yes, I think it is definitely worth applying for the program. You will probably get nervous but it is a really exciting opportunity. You may think at first you won’t get the grant, but just give it a try. When I arrived at ANU, I never thought that I would have the opportunity within my first year to study abroad.

A couple of days before I left I became very nervous and asked myself “what am I doing?!”.. My advice to First-Year students would be “just do it”, don’t be scared! As part of the “Winter Abroad at Yonsei” program, I met a whole bunch of locals as well as international people there and we are still in contact which is really cool. It inspired me and it even changed my direction in my major degree. Moreover, I picked a Korean language course this semester and it is great – I love it – we are lucky that ANU offers so many languages and courses about Asia and the Pacific. Even if the program was only for three weeks, it opened so many options for me.

Tell us about your favorite memories 🙂

There are three special moments for me during this program: firstly, we went to Korean karaoke places many times which was lots of fun – we always had a good time there. Secondly, with the other students of the group we went to the Namsan Tower, the communication tower of Seoul. The view from there is spectacular. Thirdly, a couple of us went down to the Han-River by night – the view over the illuminated city was breathtaking. Overall, the highlight of my stay in Seoul is probably doing things with the new friends I met.

What was your first impression when you arrived in Korea?

I was so excited. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know any Korean at all. So I had to navigate my way to the student accommodation with the bus by myself. First night was great, I met a few friends there and we ended up going for dinner and drinks. But it was very cold though, I have never been so cold in my life.

The South Korean portrait, if you were a…

… Song, what would you be? “Sexy Love”, which is a K-Pop song – my friends and I listened to it lots of times – I love it.

… Word, what would you be?  It would be “Igeoshi mwoyeyo?” (이것이 뭐예요?) It means “What is this?” in Korean. After we learned this in class one day, my friend and I never stopped suddenly asking each other “Igeoshi mwoyeyo?!!” really enthusiastically about random objects. In hindsight, I feel like it nicely captures how excited I constantly felt about discovering and experiencing so much in my few weeks there.

… Dish, what would you be? It would be Hoddeok (호떡), which is a pancake filled with honey and walnuts.

… Location, what would you be? The famous Gyeongbokgung palace – it is incredibly beautiful.

See for yourself at the ANU Global Programs Fair at ANU Open Day.