Student Exchange Experience : Virginia Angela

Passionate to learn has always been in me ever since I remembered. I’m Virginia Angela Hadlar Gili Danarti, a chemistry undergraduate student from Pertamina University. I was raised in a small city called Gresik, along with my three siblings. Among my family, I was known as an/a inquisitive and passionate surround my studies. Moreover, growing up in a small city had motivated me to contribute to society through what I desire. Coincidentally that Chemistry is one of subjects that I love. Through studying Chemistry, I could give an innovation in various aspects, such materials research, or renewable energies research and many more. As I studied through research paper, I acknowledge that Indonesia’s education system is quite astern from Malaysia. Thus, it had motivated me to study there and applied the education system to myself for further study.

The previous batch for exchange student program in Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) was experiencing offline classes, projects, etc. As for my experience, I was attending online classes during my program due to COVID-19 Pandemic. It is quite different way to experience things such as studying, interacting, and many more. But gladly, I have the same excitement as the first time that I wanted to apply. Despite of being excited, during the virtual classes, I also encounter some troubles.

Conducted virtual classes obviously it’s a new method of studying in Indonesia. Therefore, some problems might occur throughout my virtual student exchange. One of the issues is new class platform with a different approach for instance using BBB (Big Blue Button). It is a new platform for me where I can only access it through an official website from UTP. Most of the times it runs smoothly when I was using a good connection. There were couples of incidents where one of my lecturers was kicked out by the site for hundred times, thus it delayed our lectures and baffled my lecturer. Another platform that I found it quite troublesome is Microsoft Teams, where I use it in both home and host university. Microsoft Teams use a huge amount of space in our devices so that when I open it using laptop or phone, a lagging might occur. It won’t be a problem if lecturer wasn’t calling our name, but I once experienced where my lecturer called me, and my devices weren’t responding.

Another issue that I have been facing during the classes were a bad internet connection. It does sound cliché, but it does happen, and it took quite sometimes to recover. Moreover, I live in a small city where a good internet connection is considered as a privilege. I am lucky that I have the advantage, though it is still a struggle due to continuous internet improvement in the area. At one time, I was attending a class and my internet was shut down for a moment so that I need to pack my things and move elsewhere to continue my class. Besides of the internet limitation, language and time difference were on the struggling list.

Studying at UTP was using fully in English and it was great. Malaysia also has a different cultures and nations, for example India, Indonesia, and much more. Those are wonderful since I could learn their cultures and languages. I even learn a bit of Melayu from my fellow friends through a small project. However, at the first time it is a new difficulty for me since some of them have an accent. I found it a bit hard to understand since most Indonesian don’t have an accent such as Singlish or Indian English accent. After a couple weeks in classes, I’m starting to use to it and instead it intrigues me to be familiar with it. Understanding both language and accent are important for me to relate to other people from different nations. Gladly, I was assisted by Ain (one of the friends from UTP) to adjust with language barrier.

Virtual student exchange experience is a different experience than offline student exchange. It has some troubles that I come across to, but in my opinion a study without those struggles is regressive. A progress of learning is also including a problem; thus, we can continue to develop ourselves and be the better version of us. Regardless, this experience was wonderful, I’m able to improve myself, learn new insights, and gain connections