7-days of My Life in South Korea: MONDAY was a Dreadful Day

Halo semuanya, kali ini saya akan berbagi sedikit pengalaman tentang bagaimana saya menjalani hari-hari selama saya menempuh program master di Seoul National University. Artikel kali ini mengenai pengalaman lab meeting pada hari senin.

Saya di sini membahas fakta yg terjadi di lapangan, dan hal yg umum diketahui di masyarakat Korea. Saya membuat artikel ini bukan  untuk menjelekkan atau membanding-bandingkan sistem di Indonesia dan di Korea, tapi saya hanya ingin berbagi dari sudut pandang seorang hasiswa international yg pernah menjalani kehidupan Master di Korea Selatan.

Saya sangat appreciate supervisor saya di Korea, dan dari beliau saya belajar banyak hal. Saya bahkan meneteskan air mata saat menuliskan surat terakhir untuk beliau sebelum kepulangan saya ke Indonesia. Jadi artikel ini tidak ada maksud untuk mengkritisi beliau, tapi hanya untuk share pengalaman saja.

Okay, so without any further ado, I’ll start the first chapter of the 7-days of my life in South Korea, starting from MONDAY!

Photo by Toa Heftiba

Monday was the report day. We had to send a weekly report to my supervisor before 8 am. If we were ‘lucky’, there would also be a whole laboratory meeting on this day.

Senin merupakan hari yang biasanya menjadi momok untuk sebagian besar orang, dikarenakan ketidaksiapan menghadapi 5 hari kedepan sampai akhir minggu kembali datang.

Bagi saya, hari senin sama saja seperti hari lain, tidak ada bedanya.

Yang berbeda hanyalah keharusan saya dan teman-teman lab untuk mengumpulkan laporan mingguan (weekly report). Weekly report ini berisi progress selama satu minggu penuh, yang umumnya berisi experiment results and some literature review.

Weekly report ini biasanya sudah diselesaikan dan dikirimkan pada hari Jumat-Minggu. Sehingga wajar saja kalau hari Senin bukanlah hari yang istimewa bagi kami apabila dibandingkan dengan hari-hari yang lain.

Kecuali…

Kecuali jika ada notifikasi group laboratory di Kakaotalk kami.

Satu kata untuk notifikasi group laboratory: menakutkan.

Saya ngga bercanda.

Selama saya di Korea, dua hal yang paling saya takutkan adalah notifikasi di group laboratory dan kedatangan email dari supervisor.

Kedua ketakutan ini mengalahkan ketakutan akan Korea Utara melemparkan bom nuklir Korea Selatan.

Hal ini dikarenakan, Prof saya terkadang ingin mengadakan laboratory meeting secara mendadak pada hari Senin.

Lab meeting di Korea bukan sesuatu yg kecil, karena kita diharuskan untuk mempresentasikan hasil kita di depan lab member, dan juga di depan supervisor kita.

Alangkah bahagianya kalau supervisor Korea mirip seperti supervisor di Indonesia, yang tutur katanya halus dan jarang sekali membentak. Tapi kenyataan tak seindah harapan.

Supervisor di sini sangat strict akan hasil, jadi apabila kita mempresentasikan hasil yang buruk, maka kita akan dicap gagal dan bisa dimarahi habis-habisan. Hal ini membuat banyak mahasiswa merasa lab meeting itu menakutkan, to the extent ada mahasiswa yg sengaja ngga masuk kalau ada lab meeting.

Saya sendiri sebagai foreigner, tidak pernah dimarahi oleh supervisor saya. Bukan karena hasil saya selalu bagus, tapi karena supervisor saya memang sangat menjaga perasaan international students. Ada rumor yg mengatakan bahwa Prof saya pernah dibantu oleh foreigners pada saat tersesat saat menghadiri suatu konferensi di luar negeri, dan itu membuat Prof saya sangat menghargai foreigners.

Dikarenakan perlakuan yg berbeda terhadap international student, saya jarang merasa takut saat lab meeting. Grogi sih iya, tapi ngga takut dimarahin 😂 kalau saya dimarahin seperti Prof memarahi orang korea, sepertinya saya udah lepas beasiswa ini karena merasa kerja keras saya tidak dihargai.

Pernah saya ngobrol dengan teman saya dari Thailand,”kalau aku mahasiswa korea, sepertinya aku juga akan takut untuk menghadiri lab meeting.”

Hal ini dikarenakan kebudayaan Korea memang seperti ini. Supervisor atau senior sering kali keras terhadap mahasiswa atau bawahannya. Dan saking hal ini merupakan kebiasaan, orang korea menganggap ini normal dan wajar.

Suatu ketika kami sedang lab meeting, lalu salah seorang senior kami dimarahi habis-habisan. Saya yang bisa berbahasa Korea tidak habis pikir bagaimana dia bisa mengadapi 언어 폭력 (verbal abuse) seperti itu.

Setelah lab meeting, saya beranikan bertanya ke senior saya,”Unnie (re: older sister), kamu ngga apa-apa dimarahi kayak gitu sama, Prof? Kedengerannya kasar banget.”

And then she casually replied,”It’s nothing, he wasn’t that angry.”

Saya hanya bisa terheran-heran.

Setelah beberapa percakapan, saya bisa mengerti mengapa senior saya menganggap itu biasa saja:

It’s their culture.

Photo by Jana Sabeth

Yup, ini dikarenakan hal tersebut sudah menjadi kebiasaan mereka. Ditambah lagi, saya merupakan orang asing yang memiliki budaya yang berbeda, dibesarkan di lingkungan yang berbeda, dengan cara berinteraksi yang juga berbeda.

Saat saya artikan apa yang diucapkan oleh supervisor saya secara literal ke bahasa Indonesia, kalimat tersebut sangatlah kasar dan jelas akan membuat muka merah padam dan mata berair.

Namun untuk orang korea, kata-kata kasar semacam ini sudah biasa dan taraf ini bukan termasuk marah.

Di sini saya belajar, barangkali perlakuan yang berbeda terhadap foreigners juga dikarenakan perbedaan culture ini. Prof saya sepertinya bersikap hati-hati terhadap orang dengan culture yg berbeda, karena takut akan menyakiti hati kami para international students. Sebaliknya, karena beliau mengenal betul watak orang korea dan kebudayaan masyarakat disini, dimarahi seperti itu merupakan sesuatu yg biasa saja sehingga dia melakukannya.

Bahkan setelah diskusi lebih lanjut ttg hal ini dengan teman lab saya, orang-orang korea di lab saya malah menganggap ini sebagai warming up (pemanasan) sebelum benar-benar dimarahi saat bekerja kelak. Karena tingkat verbal abuse di pekerjaan jauh lebih harsh (kasar) dibanding saat di Universitas. Hm, saya jadi berpikir jangan-jangan Prof saya juga sengaja untuk melatih mental baja anak-anak Korea 😂

Anyway, saya sangat bersyukur karena prof saya orangnya bijaksana, jadi sudah memperhitungkan kalau foreigners bisa salah menangkap perkataan Prof saya apabila beliau terlalu kasar.

Banyak juga lho teman-teman Indonesia saya yg sakit hati dikarenakan Prof mereka menyamaratakan orang Indonesia dengan orang Korea. Prof semacam ini benar-benar berkata kasar sampai-sampai saya yg dengar omongannya secara ngga langsung aja miris dan ingin menangis. Beberapa ada yang ngga betah dan akhirnya berhenti dari program mereka. Sedih banget pokoknya tiap denger ada berita kayak gini. Karena kalau saya di posisi mereka, saya juga ngga akan betah dan memilih pulang ke Indonesia.

Teman-teman yg mengalami kejadian serupa… You did your best. It’s okay to give up on something that is not worth. Who knows that giving up might be a better choice?

Nah sekian dulu hari Senin saya.

Pengalaman hari Senin ini mengangkat momok laboratory meeting dan juga budaya orang korea dalam interaksi antara atasan dan bawahan (di lingkup ini adalah Professor dan mahasiswanya).

Saya berharap, sedikit sharing cerita ini bisa menambah wawasan temen-temen semuanya tentang kehidupan di Korea Selatan, terutama di bidang akademik

Yang terakhir, saya mohon maaf apabila terdapat kesalahan penulisan atau ada kata-kata yang menyinggung perasaan. Saya tidak ada niat untuk buruk dalam penulisan ini.

Sampai ketemu lagi di hari Selasa!

Hari senin ini didedikasikan untuk mereka yang menjalani rough day selama di Korea Selatan, entah sebagai mahasiswa, pekerja, ibu rumah tangga, dan sebagainya. You did well.

 

Salam,

Inna
One warm afternoon in my hometown
2019-12-02

How I Met My Supervisor (HIMMS): Part 2

I will continue the story with the last part of How I Met My Supervisor. I hope I could still elaborate it well because it has been so long since it happened 🤔

I was both happy and anxious at the same time when I heard that the department already assigned me with a laboratory; happy because I got a laboratory, but anxious because of the spin dynamics things.

After my friend and I heard that we got our laboratory already, we went outside of the department because nevertheless, we could not meet our supervisor that day. So we went to the student center to look around and took a photo. Then we went on our separate way.

That was when suddenly I got an email from the professor.

In the email, the professor said that he wanted to meet me on Monday. But at that time I would have been in Daejeon so I asked him whether we could make the meeting sooner, like on Saturday or Sunday (it was Friday, by the way). And he said OK to meet on Saturday 😊

I was actually feeling guilty because that weekend was supposed to be my holiday with my KGSP friends (Gita, Ana, and Bobby) but I had to meet my supervisor because that would be the last chance during the week. Fortunately, my friends understood and were even being so considerate by pushing back our traveling schedule, oh I love them so much!

So the next day, after I visit the Line Store in Myeongdong with my friends, I said goodbye and headed to SNU. On the way there, I spared some time to eat nearby the Nakseongdae Station and bought some bread for the supervisor. It would be my first time meeting him so I really did not want to make any bad impression. Then I got an email from him that I could just call him when I had arrived in SNU, and I replied with an OK then I rode the bus to SNU.

Well, unfortunately, bad things happened. I forgot that I ran out of phone balance so I could not place a call to tell my supervisor that I have already arrived at SNU. I was thinking that I could make a transfer from Woori bank with my Hana bank account but turned out that it was impossible (perhaps because the ATM machine did not support all card or something). So I was a little bit panicking and sent an email to him telling that I already arrived in SNU but I did not have any phone balance.

So instead of waiting outside of the building, I just went inside and rushed to his office. I knocked several times but there was no answer! 😨 Then while sending another email to him, I waited for several minutes but still, there was no reply…

So I went to the administration office, hoping that perhaps it would be opened even if it was Saturday. When I reached the floor, I suddenly met a man on his 30s or 40s and without thinking, I threw a question whether he knew where would my Professor be (I said my Prof’s name). And turned out that he was my supervisor! Woaa I was so relieved that I finally met him!

He gave me a Callister book! The Holy book of Materials Science Engineering. The price is 90.000 won and just gave me the book saying it was a present for me.

He welcomed me with such warm manners as he talked a lot during our way to the office. I did not feel any awkward moments or feeling anxious while around him, I guess because he was open to speaking about anything, even about his family; he is married with 3 children.

And after a little bit of chit-chat about some casual stuff, he told me about the research topic. He said that when the department received my application, he read about the nanomaterials so he chose me. Because he wanted to do research about nanoparticles especially about nano magnetic so he thought it might be suitable for me. I was so happy when I knew that he considered about that thing! Since I thought that he might ask me to do about spin dynamics or something that would be totally new for me. And also I am pretty interested in nano magnetic as they have broad range of application, thank God 😌

After some times had passed, suddenly we heard the knocking sound. They were my laboratory senior! When I first saw them, I was actually mesmerized by their appearance! Well actually I was thinking that SNU students might look nerdy or too serious, but they dressed really well and had good appearances, so pretty and handsome, kkk.

The professor introduced me to them and he asked them to help me about anything (because I was new here). The prof later gave me a book (Materials Science and Engineering by Callister) and then asked my seniors to take me to the laboratory and introduce me to the other lab mates.

The laboratory is located in the building number 37 and it has many instruments which were new to me. Several times, the senior said that I must have tried this or that instruments but innocently I just said I have not used any of those instruments (well that is the truth). But fortunately, he was okay with that and just told me that someone would teach me.

After the lab tour, the senior took me to a cafe nearby the department to grab some beverages. I think it is a culture here to welcome someone, so I happily followed them and grab a cup of juice. I thought after that we would separate our way but turned out that they asked me to sit down again in the student center. Woa I felt so welcomed, they were so nice.

We chit-chatted about so many stuff and I even asked them whether it was difficult to study in SNU. And they said yes without thinking, lol. I was not surprised though because I also expected it to be difficult (already heard a lot about SNU…). I need to be brave because I already took this path of living 😂

We ended the meet up after several minutes of chatting and said goodbye in front of the students center. I really hope that I will get along well with all lab members there ❤️

 

Thank you for reading this article!

 

Seoul National University Dormitory Bld. 902,

10:15 p.m. 29th of August 2017

Early of Autumn (it is cold already)

Inna YK