Advice from alumni: Raka Akmal
Raka Akmal from Indoneisa graduated from EF Acaemy New York in 2015. The Varsity Basketball star was interested in studying Petrol Engineering at university but an internship in his home country changed his mind and he decided to pursue Chemical Engineering instead. Interested in taking on a new challenge, Raka now attends the University of Groningen in the Netherlands:
Why did you decide to attend EF Academy?
It was actually very spontaneous. I talked to my friend Billy Sudiartoand he told me that he was planning on going to EF Academy for high school. I thought that was interesting and he encouraged me to check it out. At that point, I was already thinking of studying abroad in the U.S. so I checked it out and talked to my parents. My parents said that if that’s what I wanted, they wanted it for me too.
What did you find exciting and challenging about the IB program?
I really liked the teachers and how they taught. My physics teacher, for example, made the subject really interesting for me. The most challenging was the homework and the core requirements because it was a lot.
How did you balance playing on the varsity basketball team with completing your IB assignments?
It was challenging, I found ways to split up time between school work and sport. Participating in sports made me feel better so that helped me a lot in school.
How did you choose your university and your program?
When I first started at EF Academy, I was thinking about attending university in the U.S. but my interests changed after I did an internship at Patra Teknik in Indonesia. The senior staff at the company gave me advice about what I wanted to study – Petrol Engineering. They suggested I study Chemical Engineering instead because it’s a broader major. I checked out some of the Chemical Engineering programs in other countries because I wanted to keep my options open and I also wanted to try out a different environment. First I applied to a school in London and then after I discovered Groningen, I applied and got in. I also was accepted to Penn State in the U.S. but I picked Groningen because it has one of the best Chemical Engineering programs in Europe. One of the professors in my faculty, Ben Feringa, won a Nobel Prize in chemistry this year.
Tell us a little more about your internship at Patra Teknik…
I did the one-month internship after my first year of the IB program. I worked with the senior staff so that I could learn about what they did and what projects they were working on. I asked them a lot of questions about their jobs and they gave me a lot of advice about what I should study. They brought me into meetings so that I could learn more about the petroleum company. I learned how to make good presentations and I helped with PowerPoints and administrative work.
What is one thing you learned at EF Academy that prepared you for university? For your personal life?
The experience at EF Academy prepared me for university by helping me learn how to write reports, and there are a lot of those for chemical engineering experiments.
For life, being a student at EF Academy has helped me be more open-minded. Before I came to the U.S., I wasn’t this open-minded about the world. But there were so many different cultures and people at EF Academy and so now I like being around international people. My university experience would be different if I wasn’t studying in an international environment since that’s what I’m used to now.
What is the accomplishment you are proudest of?
I’ve never really thought about that. I’m proud that I have been surviving in another country on my own for four years; and that I got into university and I’m still surviving; and not thinking about going home even though it hasn’t always been an upward journey. I still keep my head up so I’m pretty proud of myself for taking care of everything on my own. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.
What is your dream for your future?
I can do a lot with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I’d like to work for a company where they make things out of waste. I’d really love to live in South Africa. For now, I don’t have a desire to move back to Indonesia but maybe I will in the future.
Full name: Raka Akmal
Home country: Indonesia
Languages: English and Indonesia, and learning Dutch
EF Academy campus: New York
Grad year: 2015
Favorite club: Varsity Basketball
Favorite subject: Physics
University: Studying Chemical Engineering at University of Groningen