Student experience - Adrian Smitham
Adrian Smitham is currently studying a Bachelor of Teaching and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and Japanese. Adrian is currently on exchange at Dankook University, South Korea.
While at Dankook University, Adrian spoke to us about his exchange, what it’s like to study in Korea, and how it changed his goals for his future career.
“Studying and living overseas is completely different to travelling. For me, it’s like I have a home that I haven’t seen yet. So every day I try to see, eat, or do something new. Whereas on holiday, it feels like I need to rush back and forth all the time and I have a personal expectation to do something every hour. But, during exchange, there’s plenty of time, and plenty of new friends!”
Adrian found settling in to the social life at Korea quite easy, due to the friends he already had back at home:
“In Australia, I spent a lot of time with Koreans and speaking Korean. So, blending in felt more natural and easier than you’d typically expect. Although, if I couldn’t speak any Korean, I would feel so lost and I wouldn’t be able to ask for help finding somewhere, or ask if someone could explain a cultural difference.”
Reflecting on how he’s changed since starting his exchange, Adrian told us:
“I feel more positive. I feel like I’ve finally found my home in the world. I really don’t want to go back home. My social life has flourished, my drive to study has increased, and I’ve even become physically healthier.”
“I joined a musical club. We have a club room where we can sleep and study, and we have a practice room where we jam daily. I’m usually there on class heavy days, studying between and after classes. Since I joined, we started booking gigs at hotels, bars, and stuff around the country, and we’ll play a couple of festivals before the year is over.”
“I also started volunteering at a community centre. I usually work with elderly people and help them in their homes, like moving furniture, preparing food, grocery shopping, etc. I also had an opportunity to do a day trip to the ocean with the group.”
A large benefit of Adrian’s exchange has been the influence it’s had on his motivation to study and work:
“I’ve found it’s so easy to develop a work ethic here, as all the people seem to have a great way of thinking about what’s important. There’s also a great ‘downtime life’. On weekends, my friends and I go to new country towns around the country, eating unique food and seeing museums, galleries, etc. I’ve developed some great connections for future employment too.”
Before departing for Dankook University, Adrian had an idea of what he wanted for his future career, however since living in Korea, he’s been able to refine his goals and find what interests him:
“I want to teach, that’s all. I love the feeling of seeing people achieve their learning goals. But after doing some recent translating work, I also feel like I’d love to be an ambassador/employee at the embassy here in Korea. I like the idea of being an in-between for two people wanting to spend time together.”
“I would like to set up a not-for-profit Korean foreign and local student connection company with some friends. We would organise and connect students with local activities, festivals, and more.”
In the next six months, Adrian hopes to achieve a 3-level increase in his Korean language proficiency test. He also hopes to visit Japan and Mongolia.