Fega Ayu Pangestika is a Disaster Management Analyst. In 2019, as a Bachelor student in Psychology at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, she spent a semester at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2018.
According to her, the Erasmus+ programme was a gratifying experience: “Going abroad for the Erasmus+ helped me enhance both my intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. As someone who had never been to another country for such a quite long time previously, I found out that I was able to quickly adapt with the international culture without any difficulties (thanks to Ms. Sandra from UAM International Office for her kind support as well). I also learned that the environment in the university was very supportive and encouraging, especially for an Asian student like me who tends to feel shy and inferior in western countries. Despite being far away from home and family, I had the right support systems in Madrid: my very talkative landlords, some Indonesian families in my neighborhood, and my friends from different backgrounds at the university.”
Furthermore, studying abroad allowed Fega Ayu to deepen her knowledge of Psychology. She explains: “In terms of academic matters, when I took the Data Analysis class at UAM, I realized that what I learned during the program was much more advanced than what I learned back in my home university. Fortunately, the course I took during the Erasmus+ was beneficial for my bachelor thesis writing process. Fast forward to two years later, the data analysis skill I learned from UAM remains useful in my professional career now as a Disaster Management Analyst. Erasmus+ also provided me an opportunity to expand my network with fellow Indonesian who also took part in the program previously. Until now, the Erasmus+ alumni network in Indonesia is still very active to share information about scholarships, jobs, and research opportunities.”
Fega Ayu also talked about her worries and expectations of going to live in another country:
“Since my junior high school, I used to dream about living in France for a long time someday. Hence, I prepared myself to learn about its culture and languages. When I heard about the Erasmus+ A4U to Spain, I was actually a bit hesitant to apply. Spain never crossed my mind before, but at that time I thought «at least it is next to France». I experienced mixed feelings when I got accepted into the program. On one hand I felt really grateful for that, but on the other hand I was afraid that this country might be difficult since I was not well-prepared on mastering the languages and understanding the culture well.
One month before I flew to Madrid, I learned about Spanish cultures from the internet and practiced my basic Spanish using Duolingo every day. I was a bit anxious that I might find any difficulties to adapt with the new environment. The moment I landed on my feet in Madrid and met my landlord, surprisingly I felt relaxed knowing that Spanish people are «muy simpática». At first, I experienced a «lost-in-translation» moment with my landlords who didn’t speak English. But then I took the Spanish class at UAM and was very excited to practice what I learned in the class with my landlords at home. Slowly but surely, I was able to communicate effectively with them and still am until now.
After doing my Erasmus+ exchange, I often encouraged my junior colleagues to take this excellent opportunity in that it is surely a positive life-changing experience.”