girl holding her hat while watching the view of a mountain in Bali

What Is It Like to Be an Exchange Student during the COVID-19 era?

How is it to study abroad in Asia during COVID-19

Asia Exchange hosted a webinar for students and parents to hear and answer questions about studying abroad in 2020 and beyond. Students who are currently in our destinations in Asia shared their experiences on their semester abroad during the COVID-19 outbreak.

girl holding her hat while watching the view of a mountain in Bali

Do not give up your dream of a semester abroad in Asia due to COVID-19! Photo By Fabian Munoz Humeres

Our student panelists expressed some positive thoughts and comments regarding their spring semesters abroad and the current state of affairs in various destinations in Asia. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. At the bare minimum, it can be the most meaningful semester of your study years. Asia Exchange hopes that not a single student would need to give up their dreams of a semester abroad.

Yvonne Bolhàr-Nordenkampf from Austria – studying at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea

Before heading to study abroad this spring Yvonne was carefully researching how to manage her time abroad. It has been a surprise to her how much she has been able to enjoy the semester at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies regardless of the pandemic situation. The overall atmosphere in Seoul is warm and welcoming and Yvonne has not been too worried about the pandemic. She thinks the fact that South Korean society operates as a collective and residents follow the given instructions from the government have been a huge factor in helping halt the spread of the virus.

The university has taken effective measures to ensure student safety by offering sanitizer and requiring temperature checks when entering the campus. Yvonne states that the university has made the situation as easy as possible for the students and that she has felt safe during her time abroad.  Hankuk University of Foreign Studies has been able to arrange online studies to ensure student safety and all courses with less than 30 students are currently held on-campus. The courses have been well organized, easy to follow and teachers have communicated effectively with students and provided assistance when it has been needed.

Yvonne has been able to socialize with fellow students on -and off-campus. Restaurants and shops have been open for business and she has also been able to attend dance classes this spring. Because of effective tracing and testing, South Korea has been able to offer her a memorable semester abroad!

Maxime Verschoor from Francestudying in Bali, Indonesia

Maxime has been enjoying his exchange experience despite the ongoing global situation. He feels that there have been positive aspects even during the pandemic.

Finding accommodation has been relatively easy now that there are fewer tourists in Bali. Accommodation is generally relatively cheap, but he has been able to rent a more luxurious villa for less money under the current circumstances. Because of the lack of tourists, getting around Bali has been easier than it would normally be.

The Udayana University had to swiftly implement remote learning mid-semester when the outbreak began. Maxime adjusted to the new conditions well and says communication regarding assignments and other study-related matters from Udayana University has been executed well. The same has been reported from students studying at our other Balinese partner universities UNDIKNAS and UNWAR.

Maxime is also delighted that the Balinese society is gradually getting back to normal after the lockdown. He is making use of the opportunities to practice some Indonesian now that businesses are opening again. Local people have been genuinely delighted when he has been able to communicate with some basic words in Bahasa Indonesian. The pandemic has not been able to keep Maxime from enjoying the surfing opportunities Bali offers either!

Arnaud Mainfroid from France – studying in Shih Chien University, Taiwan

Taiwan has been a role-model country in dealing with the outbreak and there have been under 20 confirmed cases since April 27th. Overall, the country has remained largely unscathed during the outbreak. Shih Chien University has contributed to student safety on-campus by conducting temperature measurements for anyone entering the campus and informing students that, just like in other public places, masks must be worn on-campus.

Originally Arnaud was planning to explore both Taiwan and it’s neighboring countries during his exchange semester in Taiwan. The pandemic situation forced him to change these plans which he considered to be a stroke of good luck afterwards. Instead of the original plans, he has been able to focus on exploring Taiwan. He states that one could even spend more than one semester on the island as there is a lot to experience!

Ida Hyvärinen from Finland – on internship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 Ida has gained a lot from her time studying and working abroad! She is staying in Ho Chi Minh City, and currently working for Asia Exchange’s sister-company Edunation. She shared her insights on the on-going situation and life in Vietnam as well as campus life at Asia Exchange’s newest partner, Foreign Trade University.

Life has been getting back to normal in Vietnam. Ida describes Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, to be a fascinating city with a homely atmosphere. Students have been allowed back on campus two weeks ago and classes are being held normally. Like in many other universities, FTU (Foreign Trade University) requires students have their temperature measured when entering the campus to ensure maximum safety for both students and staff.

Vietnam has been the first of our destinations to decide to grant student visas after the pandemic. Starting from July 1st it is possible to apply for a student visa again. We expect the other destinations to soon follow with similar decisions. Read more about Vietnam here.

What did our attendees think?

We also wanted to know what our attendees’ thoughts and feelings were on student exchange in the upcoming semester. We were glad to see the results were mainly positive. Our poll results are further supported by data gathered by Anton John Crace, reporter for Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), who’s study reports that 70% of students participating in the study want to go abroad this year if there are no restrictions in place. The interest in studying abroad has not been died out due to corona!

Not only are students eager to go abroad next autumn, universities are also seemingly strategizing on how to allow student exchanges in the upcoming semester. By the end of the webinar, after hearing about actual student experiences and gaining more knowledge on what life is like at many Asian destinations, most students were hopeful for the upcoming autumn semester. As we mentioned in our webinar, the team at Asia Exchange is also doing their very best to make students’ dreams come true in the upcoming autumn semester.

Are you interested in studying abroad in Asia? Find out more here

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.