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Submitted by android290374@… on 22 September 2023

One of the Ministry of Education and Culture's flagship programs, which is part of Merdeka Belajar Kampus Merdeka - Independent Learning Independent Campus (MBKM), is the Merdeka Student Exchange (PMM). Bayu Ashila Nafis, one of the outstanding students of Universitas Jenderal Soedirman, is one of the participants in the program in 2022. Studying Biology at the Faculty of Biology Unsoed, the student often called Shila participated in the PMM program at Mataram University, Lombok City, West Nusa Tenggara Province as she admitted that she had fallen in love with the beauty of the island.

Taking 6 courses and 19 credits at the University of Mataram, Shila became a temporary student at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Education. According to Shila, PMM students are allowed to choose a study program that is not linear with the study program from their home campus. This broadened Shila's knowledge and that of other friends who participated in the PMM program in terms of gaining knowledge from different disciplines.

Shila participated in this activity from August to December 2022. "I really feel at home there. If I'm tired of doing assignments, I go straight to the beach because it's close by. The beach is beautiful. The people are very polite and friendly," she said. Shila admitted that by participating in the PMM program she also learned to get used to and be open to different cultures. Lombok is one of the most favorite cities for PMM program applicants. In addition to the city being an international tourist destination, the city of Lombok also supports the learning atmosphere of the students by providing infrastructure and relatively affordable living costs. The PMM program participants receive funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture starting from departure fees, living expenses, pocket money costs, to the cost of returning to their home universities.

Despite experiencing culture shock as she had to adapt to the taste of the food there, which is slightly different from Java, Shila enjoyed the moments during the PMM period well. She was active in both academic and non-academic activities along with her friends as well. By participating in the PMM program, she made many friends, both with fellow PMM participants from all over Indonesia and with native students of the University of Mataram who are mostly natives of Nusa Tenggara Province. This made her able to open wider networking links and get to know more cultures from all over the archipelago.