My First Semester Experience as an International Student at UIII

February 13, 2024

Contributor: Erickson Samson | Editor: Supriyono

UIII, DEPOK - As a Filipino student embracing Roman Catholicism, I thought that I would find it difficult to go to the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII), as I came from Manila, the Northern part of the Philippines, where the majority of religions are Christians.

Since I arrived here on September 23, 2023, I was still clueless what a day in a life would be at UIII, generally, in Indonesia. Going with my fellow Filipino friends, who are Muslims from the Southern part of the Philippines, Mindanao, would mean I was still in my comfort zone.

However, as I started my first day, I was already impressed by how welcoming the Indonesian people were. We went to a public market, Pasar Cisalak, better known as Cisalak Market, accompanied by an Indonesian friend who helped us communicate with the market vendors. The help was much needed because we shared more or less similar physical characteristics with Indonesians, resulting in local vendors presumed that we were Indonesians.

In terms of learning experience, the first semester was a tough one for me as it was my first time studying overseas, especially in a research-based university with an international standard of curriculum.

Drawing back from my study experiences in the Philippines, I majored in education in my undergraduate study. Pursuing the same field in graduate studies at UIII, some lectures that I have been learning at UIII are an expansion of what I learned in the Philippines. Hence, the breadth and depth of lectures have challenged me to unlock my full potential as a graduate student and a novice researcher.

Throughout the semester, it has been worthwhile and a good opportunity to meet my lecturers—be it offline or online—classmates, friends, acquaintances and staff in the male dormitory, known as Asrama Putra. Walking around the campus, alone or with friends, in the afternoon was one of the things that could alleviate the stress due to tasks. Eating at night on the bench rocks inside the campus facility also made it worthwhile with friends, sharing and listening to each others’ insights, reflections, experiences and ideas.

Attending some conferences organized by different faculties within the university, and inviting academics and prominent people of their field was also one of the things that I loved so far, meaning that the university invests more in professional development in the academic community, signifying lifelong learning. Extracurricular activities such as volunteering as a teacher, organized by the Faculty of Economics and Business, in a public primary school in Depok was one of the best experiences that I have had so far.

Also, spending time in some coffee shops with myself, and sometimes with some friends, pretending that we did not know each other while doing projects and assignments, was also fun. I also found it productive to do some assignments and projects outside the campus during the weekends because there are no distractions. This thing that I could do for once in two weeks or once a month, depending on my mood and availability.

As of now, one thing is certain: I look forward to visiting more places like museums, historical places and tourist spots in the future in any part of Indonesia, where I can explore more about the culture, traditions and history of this country where people are very welcoming and hospitable as what Filipino people do, while despite the challenges, still enjoying the student life with the UIII community. All I can say is that it has been a worthwhile experience to be an international student at UIII, giving me memorable experiences that bring lessons to my personal and professional growth, and readying us in our future endeavors.