My summer school experience: building intercultural awareness and gaining new perspectives

Participating in an international summer school is a great way for students to gain international experience, learn new skills, increase their intercultural understanding, network, and have fun while visiting an ACU member institution overseas.

This year, the ACU offered UK students the opportunity to gain this experience through our Global Summer School Grants. Here, Elliot – an undergraduate student from The University of Sheffield – shares his experience from this year's international summer school at the University of Malaya, Malaysia.

I was lucky to receive the ACU Global Summer School Grant to attend the 4th annual AEI-ASEM Summer School at the University of Malaya, which was based on cultural diversity in Asia and Europe this year. I was excited to attend this summer school as Asian culture is something I have always had an interest in and was eager to experience it first-hand. Through an array of seminars, lectures, and group activities I learnt a lot about a whole range of topics, including history, religion, politics, cuisine, and arts in Asia and Europe with an underlying focus on Malaysia. In addition, we had several day trips exploring the sights of Kuala Lumpur, visiting local heritage sights and various exhibitions. We also had the opportunity to visit local towns including Putrajaya and Melaka, where we explored, engaged in Kampung games and even enacted a traditional Malaysian wedding.

University of Malaysia sign

I found this summer school extremely rewarding! It was fascinating to see how such a diverse country with many nationalities, including the large Malay, Chinese, and Indian populations, coexist and are so respectful of one another's beliefs – something I believe we could learn a lot from in the west. By attending this summer school, I have also made friendships with other passionate young students from all over the globe, including people from Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan and the list goes on. Sharing our experiences growing up and teaching each other about our own culture was very enlightening, and being able to share some amazing memories together is something I shall never forget.

Studying in a different continent and being plunged into an entirely new learning environment pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I genuinely feel like it has helped me grow as both a student and a person. In an increasingly interconnected world, not only does immersing yourself in a different culture improve your intercultural awareness, it also helps you to see things from different perspectives and make more informed decisions. Because of this, I think it's very important for students to take advantage of any international opportunities they are presented with and use them to engage with the local people you are surrounded with whilst you are there.

Coming from a scientific background, cultural diversity in Asia is something rarely discussed, but is very important to be aware of when corresponding with people from all over the world. Because of this, I will share everything I have learnt with my peers to ensure we live in a more respectful and educated world, and I'm sure I will continue to share those memories throughout my life. I feel confident that the experiences I had and the new skills I've gained will benefit me throughout my studies and future career. In fact, I have enjoyed studying in Malaysia so much, I have even decided to investigate future study or career options in the environmental sector within the region.

Overall, this summer school was an unforgettable experience! I have memories that will last me a life time, learnt many new skills, and crossed paths with some amazing people I'd otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet.

Elliot is an Ecology and Conservation Biology student from The University of Sheffield, UK. Earlier

Read more about how you can get involved in an international summer school with the help of our Global Summer School Grants, which will be opening for applications in January 2019.

Last modified on 01/11/2018
Tags: students, scholarships, Asia, Commonwealth