From Bishkek to Daejeon: “Go, get out of your comfort zone!”

From Bishkek to Daejeon: “Go, get out of your comfort zone!”

April 17, 2017

For our students, studying abroad is a consistently enriching experience, pushing you to move outside your comfort zones and learn about the world and yourself. We recently interviewed Zhibek Kamalbek kyzy, a junior in the BA department, about how she’s doing at SolBridge University in Daejeon, Korea. Hopefully her story inspires you to take a similar leap!

- How has it been acclimating to your new academic environment?

Thank you, everything's been just wonderful! When we arrived at the airport, special volunteers were there to help us with purchasing bus tickets, exchanging money and generally getting us on our feet. My university (in Daejeon) is about a 2.5 hours bus ride from the airport. On the bus, I met two students from Ata-Turk Ala-Too International University! It turns out that they had started a partnership with SolBridge before us!

Adjusting to life here was very quick and smooth. SolBridge (my host university) planned a great orientation week program in which all the exchange and new coming students were introduced to the team members. Throughout the whole week, we spent time discovering and learning the “what,” “where,” and “how” of SolBridge. My team was really diverse as well: in a group of 12 we represented Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Germany, France, China and Korea. After the week was over, we all became friends. Now our intensive classes have started.

  - What are you studying at SolBridge?

I am studying in the same department I was at AUCA, Business Administration. Students in Korea do not start their university careers right after high school, so my groupmates are almost 5-10 years older than me. I am taking mostly upper level finance classes and building simulations.

 - What’s difficult?

Coming to Korea and not knowing the language is difficult. Even though it is a developed country and has a diverse population, most of the times people talk in Korean. I was hoping people would speak English. My greatest challenge was going to the store and buying things during the first weeks. Now, after being here a month, I have learned some phrases, and life has become so much easier. :)

  - What is SolBridge like?

More specifically, I’m within the SolBridge International School of Business. SolBridge is a highly diverse business school, where 70% students come from different parts of the world. My university gives valuable knowledge and teaches students to be GACCS, where G- stands for ‘Global Perspective’, A- ‘Asian Expertise’, C-Creative Management Foundation, C- Cross-Cultural Competence, and Social Responsibility. Moreover, the University has great business programs.

Most of the teachers come from different countries. During the classes, we study real cases, and were even directed to help existing organizations. I am very happy to be here. For me, SolBridge is like a big and technologically well-developed version of AUCA.

Student life here is active like at AUCA! There are more than 15 clubs, which includes sports, meditation, business skills, debate, dance and swimming. I joined dance and swim (since I want to learn how to swim). I am also a part of the Negotiation club—particularly useful for business students.

The Student Council/Senate does a great job organizing great events here. They organize excursions for the international students to visit great sites of Korea, and they give away snacks and gifts during the holidays and exam periods. So far, we have already had two excursions. The first one was to Lotte Amusement Park (a smaller and Asian version of Disney World). The second was to the Korean Folk village.

There are a lot of students from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Russian-speaking countries. They are always helpful, friendly, and make me feel at home.

My classes have already started, so I hope I get to learn about business while I enjoy discovering my dream country.

 - What are the students like?

Since my school is really diverse, I blended in perfectly. My friends are mostly international students, whom I met through the student clubs. It is not a secret that if you join student clubs, you’ll find new friends. I also met an AUCA alumnus who is doing his Master’s degree here.