Representing UM, Representing the Philippines

OBTAINING college level education and being able to travel outside of one’s country may seem like a luxury available only to the moneyed, but luckily, at the University of Mindanao, there are programs available to the determined and deserving that can enable them to do both, even for just a semester.

NICK Julia

NICK Julia

The University of Mindanao’s Outbound Exchange Program has so far enabled four batches of students since 2013 to experience studying in partner schools in Asia either through the AIMS (ASEAN International Mobility for Students) or the UMAP (University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific) scholarships; bringing with them the values and education learned here in UM, and also the warmth, amiableness, and smarts of a global Filipino.

RUBEN Tilona Jr.

RUBEN Tilona Jr.

For most of the exchange students, it is their first time to travel outside the country and immerse in a different culture, and here are some of the insights from the 2017-2018 batch who left last month to their host schools in Taiwan (NJ & SJP), and Thailand (RTJ). TIMES asked them on their insights about travelling for education:

What was it like for you growing up in your family? Did you have to work while attending college?

SARAH Joy Pasa

SARAH Joy Pasa

Nick Julia (NJ): I finished my basic education in Tagum city, and my mother raised me and my younger sister by herself after my father died in an accident in 2001. I was a working student in my first year of college taking up BS in Human Resource Management, and it sustained my expenses for school until I decided to stop working to focus on school. I applied for the scholarship and fortunately it was granted to me.

Ruben Tilona Jr (RTJ): My family went through a rough time in my last few months of high school after my parents’ business wasn’t doing very well, and it really seemed I would not be able to go to college. Luckily, a family member informed us of the Student Assistant Program (STAP) at the University of Mindanao, and I prayed so hard for it and was accepted. I’m glad to say it has been three years since I applied as with UM’s STAP, and now I filed a leave for this outbound exchange program and when I get back home I will still be an STA.

Sarah Joy Pasa (SJP): I applied with the STAP in UM Tagum College to help my parents finance my education, as my mother is an elementary school teacher and my father works with the local health office. Growing up, I’ve always loved meeting new friends and exploring new places, and was very active in the youth ministry of our church.

Is this your first time to travel outside the country? Describe the experience.

NJ: Yes, and it’s been a slice of heaven experience! I feel like I’m on top of the world. I experienced different things for the first time: meeting friends and establishing good rapport with other students from other countries, experiencing a life that is quite different from my daily routine in the Philippines, and living in a place where language can be a barrier but an opportunity to for better communication practices, and many more.

RTJ: I’ve been to different parts of the country due to church participation, but going on an international plane ride was a really different experience. I was scared at first when my family and I said our goodbyes, but I was lucky on that plane ride because I found out there were Filipino students from UP Mindanao who will also study in KMUTT (King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi) for Master’s Degree and I felt that I was safe and I made friends with them.

SJP: Yes, it is my first time to travel outside the country. My student exchange in Taiwan is one of the best experiences in life. In my new environment, I can say that I really grew into my confidence, my independence, and got to know myself better. Student exchange has impacted me greatly, as I have become a lot more open to new things and a world bigger than just my comfort zone.

Will you recommend UM’s Outbound exchange programs to other students?

NJ: Yes, of course, I would love to recommend this program to other students. This is one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my whole life. Money can be a big consideration but there are scholarship programs that would help you realize your dreams. It has been said, “Better spend your money to gain experiences than possessions.”

RTJ: I will really recommend the UM’s outbound exchange program to my friends and co-UMians because studying abroad helps you to gain more experiences and also it is your advantage in applying for a job in the future.

SJP: Yes, I will strongly recommend UM’s Outbound Exchange Programs to other students because in my part, even if my parents spend money just to send me to Taiwan for this purpose but my experiences there cannot be bought by money.

In what way has studying abroad helped broaden your perspective on education here in our country? What do you think can be adopted here in UM that you experienced in other schools?

NJ: One of the things that I observed in my host university is that it does not offer specialized programs particularly in Business Management and instead integrates Financial, Marketing, and Human Resource Management into a single course called “IB” International Business. Tamkang University believes that in the corporate world, being flexible than being specialized helps you to become more valuable. Also, it would be better if UM offered dormitory housing to students from outside the city, like they do in Tamkang.

RTJ: Through the program, I understood better our recent K-12 implementation in the country. I think that it is one of the reasons why the students in the Philippines fail in their subject courses and some shift to other courses in college because they are not yet prepared to go to college and had not yet decided what they really want to enroll to in college. Also, I really like the student and school relations here, the administration really listens to the concerns of the students.

SJP: The program helped me to be able to learn various things including the future trends, businesses and on how to deal with diversity. We must go to places wherein we can learn various things because experience is the best teacher.

 Lastly, what do you hope to contribute to your community here at home through the experiences learned from studying outside the country?

 NJ: I will simply act as a functional citizen in our society by adhering to all the rules, policies and regulations of our country and by simply doing the right things. I observed the Taiwanese are well-disciplined. They take the initiative to fall in line while waiting for a bus or train. In restaurants or fast food chains, they also take the initiative to clean the mess before they leave the table, and they mostly don’t need security guards in department stores because people don’t steal. I think, if would be better if we, Filipinos, would also act like this.

 RTJ: I think that the thing that I can contribute to the community and at home is be an inspiration to other people. I want to tell my peers to dream big and strive to make that dream a reality. I would like to tell them to go out from their comfort zones, since if I never went out from my comfort zone in the Philippines I will never have this opportunity.

 SJP: I will always share my experiences and the lessons that I have learned outside the country particularly in Taiwan and encourage my fellow students to apply for exchange program.

 The Outbound Exchange Program is an initiative under UM’s External Relations and International Affairs Office, and interested students may visit their office located at the Embassy campus for more information on how to apply for the program.

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