Student Exchange Experience: Christina Aprilia

My Experience during Student Exchange at Universiti Teknologi Petronas

oleh: Christina Aprilia (Mahasiswa Kimia Angkatan 2017) 

My name is Christina Aprilia, a 3rd-year student of the Chemistry Program at Universitas Pertamina, Jakarta. As a student from an energy-based campus who still lacks experience and theory, I want to explore a lot of knowledge that can support expertise related to my interest fields. Nanomaterial has been my interest since I first learned it from Synthesis Nanomaterial class during my second year. However, my knowledge is still limited to the concept. To increase my knowledge about nanomaterials, I explore various information through independent learning by reading several books or journals that are easily accessed on the internet. This winter I was chosen to be an exchange student for one semester at Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Malaysia. During this exchange program, I deepened knowledge about nanomaterials by taking a course Nanoscale Materials: Synthesis and Applications. In addition, other related courses such as Organotransitional Metal Chemistry, Molecular Spectroscopy, Sustainable Water Management, and Hydrocarbon Chemistry were also learned during the program. I also have experienced using chemical laboratory devices e.g. FESEM, TEM, and FTIR to characterize nanomaterial.

The positive aspects that I got when joining this program are quite impressive. I can compare the learning system here so that it’s no wonder Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) ranks 145th in the QS World Unversity rankings. Classroom learning is divided into two types, concept/theory class, and tutorial class. In the theory class, students are taught by lecturers about the subject matter being discussed as usual. While in the tutorial class, the lecturer prepares questions for each chapter then discusses them in class. Tutorial classes are discussed and held together, often the lecturer goes around to check student understanding. The number of students in one class is quite effective because of just around 10-25 people. The classroom environment also supports smooth wifi access, bright lighting, and comfortable air conditioning. In addition, lecturers always upload learning material before class begins in advance. This makes it easy for students to learn the material before class. Quite often students ask questions and discuss with the lecturer when in class. To provoke student activity, lecturers also sometimes give rewards. I once solved the problem written by the professor in front and was able to solve it. It was a pleasant experience because I was encouraged to immediately look for answers to these questions and get 5 ringgit money. Although it’s not how rewarded, I want to show that the quality of exchange students from UP can also compete in the class.

The schedule is not too tight makes us often have the opportunity to travel. The destinations that we visited around Ipoh were Kek Lok Tong Cave, Concubinlane, and Gunung Lang. Fortunately, the campus facilitates transportation to Ipoh is free of charge for students.  In front of the bus stop, there is an AEON Mall. Sometimes we go there to buy some necessities or just to walk around.

Talking about campus facilities, I am very satisfied with all the facilities provided. Starting from the gym, swimming pool, basketball court, oval park (suitable when you want to run around), and library. Information Resource Center (IRC) is a library designation at UTP. IRC operating hours starts from 8 am to 10 pm. The place is very comfortable, the lighting is bright, the books are very complete, and the cold air conditioner makes me want to stay longer when there. When I visited IRC, books that I often read was about material technology for photocatalyst applications, solar cells, and batteries. But unfortunately, the books there cannot be borrowed for international students.

Another impressive experience was the outbreak of COVID-19. This pandemic caused our learning to stall a little because we could not attend class face to face. Moreover, some unfinished chapters are included in the final semester examination material. So, we are required to study the material itself, and sometimes some lecturers also provide virtual classes. Because of this pandemic, my return was stalled until May, which should have been able to go home after 12th April. This situation made me have to spend time during fasting in Malaysia. This was a memorable experience. I was happy to quarantine at the athlete’s guesthouse, which was a little worried about discussing viruses. However, thank God, I have friends who can go home safely.