The Conclusion and Outcomes of my Study Exchange Semester in University of Geneva, Switzerland
(Written by: Melati Kusuma, an undergraduate student of Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia)
The inclusion of Multiculturalism in the Indonesian education curriculum has been happening since many years ago. But the understanding of why we are multicultural is not sufficient, especially when the students get older and find another unsolved questions of whether it’s okay to enjoy something that is coming from outside of their cultural origin. Thereby we need to support further the cross-cultural interaction. One of the way to learn how to overcome my prejudices towards other cultures and other nations, indeed to be able to interact with them is by studying abroad. Therefore, I applied to join a study exchange program in University of Geneva (UNIGE), Geneva, Switzerland from February until June 2019 with the funding scholarship from Professor-Nowak-Stiftung. By having a chance to study in UNIGE, I am able to experience to meet many students not only from different areas of studies but also from diverse cultural backgrounds. During this time, I can broaden my knowledge by joining a study group with another international students. In this group, we can discuss about what is happening in our countries or about our global issues such as climate change. There, I often encounter lively discussion where everyone seems come up with interesting opinions. Furthermore, I am not only interacting with them in class activity but also outside of the class, such as through the international culture programs where I can promote Indonesian culture while learning other students’ culture. By coming in touch with other culture and values, it could teach me to be more open-minded and ready to start friendship beyond cultural boundaries. After all, as a young woman who has never lived in a foreign country and has never been socializing in a truly international society, living for few months in Geneva is not an easy task for me because the reality that I face in Geneva is very different from the reality in Indonesia. But on the other hand, I also enjoy living and studying in this city because there, I can experience a society without social classes’ differentiation. There I can experience where women and men are on the same level. Female students can perform well and be appreciated in the same amount as how the teachers appreciate male students’ performance. In conclusion, going abroad for any young people could help them to break down the cultural bias and prejudice, so that they be more ready to cooperate beyond cultural boundaries. As a result, this experience studying and living abroad for 5 months significantly affect my personal development, ranging from the development of my emotional intelligence dealing with culture shocks to the broader knowledge I gained from joining many discussions with other international students. And this experience also motivates me that being a woman is not a reason to stop pursuing my career furthermore. Last but not least, going and study abroad means that you will be surrounded by international society. Therefore you will be confronted by global issues and eventually you will be demanded to react and contribute to tackle these issues right when you go back to your country.