Once we landed, I immediately saw the culture differences in Korea and the efficiency of the country as the customs process was the fastest process I had ever encountered in my life. After we finished getting our bags, we were finally introduced to the program counsels and tour guides from Asia Institute, YJ, and Rob. They drove us to our hotel and on the way, I realized how much Seoul differs from the US in terms of patriotism, nationalism, and sustainable – which as of right now, I believe Korea performs better than the US.
On our drive over to the hotel, Rob explained how the country seems unified in the simplest forms. For instance, cars mostly share a monochromic color scheme and rarely have color cars that highlight individualism. Rob explained how the country pushes for unity and a sense of togetherness, even if it’s as small as the cars’ colors. The nationality and patriotism was a very nice cultural aspect to see, but major aspects of Korea that I astonished me were the attempts the country makes to promote efficiency, security, and environmental cleanliness. Korea has developed a fair amount of systems that make transportation more efficient in the very “hurry hurry” and massively populated capital city. Things such as wide sidewalks that encourage walking, bike rentals across the city, subways and buses that stretch across the city, and express trains throughout the country have been implemented to expedite transport in a city that over 25 million people commute to. In terms of security, CCTV runs the town. Rob mentioned how a person who goes about their daily routine could be recorded visually or through audio with up to 500 recording devices. This intensive security protects various citizen but can be nerve-racking coming from a whole other part of the world. After going to the hotel and settling, we went out to eat and tried some luxury Korean food! My palette was somewhat limited because I can’t eat pork, but the food was quite authentic and delicious! I did a bit of exploring with my classmates afterward and I look forward to all the other things we will get to experience tomorrow.