Madeleine Gray - Exchange Alumni Testimonial

Madeleine Gray completed her exchange at Pusan National University in Semester 1 2023. Madeleine went on exchange for her Bachelor of Environmental Policy & Management.

While on exchange, Madeleine was able to gain extensive knowledge towards her program and made core memories with the support of the New Colombo Plan Semester Mobility Grant.


Madeleine Gray - South Korea

Madeline smiling in front of an ocean view (2023)

What motivated you to participate in an overseas experience?

I've always wanted to go study overseas ever since I was in school, mainly because I want to work overseas in the future. I thought that this was a good opportunity to move overseas briefly to get an idea about what it's like to live alone in a foreign country but still have lots of support. That's the main reason why I wanted to go.


Which study period did you go overseas in?

I did Semester 1 2023, which is the Spring semester in South Korea.


Why did you choose Pusan National University?

Originally, I had applied for 2022 to go but because of COVID-19, I wasn't able to. When applying for exchange in 2023, I chose Pusan because it has the most classes and their website was the easiest for me to navigate through; I had all the information so it felt like the natural choice to choose them first.

Madeleine Gray - Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan

View of Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, photo taken by Madeleine (2023)

Also, their dorms looked really, really nice, so I thought, "this looked like a good choice!" As last year was meant to be the last year of my degree, I didn't have many options for what courses to do, but they (PNU) also had the most options for me.


What was the highlight of your exchange experience?

The fact that it's such a big cultural difference; it's such a big switch-up, and you just get placed in this other country while being surrounded by the language, the food, and the people. It was really intense, and a good way to learn independence. Also, as South Korea is so small compared to Australia, it's so easy to reach all the destinations and is so convenient there!

Madeleine Gray - Beach at Busan

Beach at Busan, photo by Madeleine (2023)

I think even just the opportunity to live independently and conveniently, while experiencing all of this fun stuff crammed into 5 months and not have it be stressful, was a highlight.


What was your biggest takeaway from your experience?

I learnt a lot there. The way that they teach and what they teach is very different to Australia (in the way that you learn). So, I got to takeaway knowledge in terms of learning from a Korean university that has helped me in these final two semesters of my [University of] Adelaide degree. Now, I get a different context of learning.

Madeleine Gray - Busan Air Cruise

View from the Busan Air Cruise cable car over Songdo Beach, photo by Madeleine (2023)

Also, learning confidence. I have made so many friends and I still talk to people from South Korea. I was talking to one of my professors from South Korea the other day, so networking was awesome too!


What is something you wish you knew before going overseas?Well, I got lots of information from [Study Overseas], so I went over there, and I wasn't too stressed. I think something is that you're going to love it but there will also be parts that might not suit you. Especially coming from Australia, the lifestyle is very different. I found that it suited me well, bit some people had a really hard time adjusting as it is a very big change. You can expect to be a bit out of it for the first little bit, and the last bit when you're going home. You're going to experience so many things and your emotions are going to go everywhere; it is a lot to process, and it goes so fast! It is so worth doing, you just have to know that you're going to mentally grow up and it can be hard to deal with.

Madeleine Gray - Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

View of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan, photo by Madeleine (2023)

Also, you don't need to take much - I packed way too much stuff! Especially because South Korea is so convenient, you don't really need to take as much.


Do you have one piece of advice you would tell other people who are going on exchange?

Make the most of it. When you have the opportunity to do something, do it. Time goes so fast, if you say, "I'll just do that next weekend," you might not get the chance to go to a certain attraction, or a certain shop, or meet certain people. So, when you're there, it's a really good idea to spend as much time doing [what] you can, and you will make so many memories.


Madeleine Gray - Pusan National University campus sunset

Sunset view from the Pusan National University campus, photo by Madeleine (2023)

How did the New Colombo Plan (NCP) Semester Mobility Grant support you to participate in your outbound exchange experience?

I think the New Colombo Plan (NCP) Grant is so much more than financial aid. Know I had support made this outbound exchange program far less stressful and far more enjoyable. I felt encouraged to travel more within the country, attend more events and go to more tourist attractions, etc. I was able to try more food, go out with more people and become more confident than if I did not have the grant. It helped me realise that I made the right decision in studying overseas where I might have been more concerned if I had less support. Especially as a 19-year-old, I would say the NCP Grant made all the difference. I am very grateful!


Interested in learning more about how to apply for exchange? Visit our Semester Programs webpage.

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