Being selected to travel to South Korea was one of the greatest opportunities I have had in life so far. I learned a lot academically and culturally. I also met some amazing people, who I hope to call lifelong friends. The memories made certainly are.
As an electrical engineer, visiting places like Samsung and Hyundai gave me a good idea of the engineering aspects in Korean culture. I think the biggest dilemma that the country has in this field is that everyone over works. Not only are the hours long, but work becomes everyone’s life in Korea. Many companies will be provided housing and dinning for their employees, so they never leave the work area. This is rather unhealthy, as it is important for people to have lives outside of their professions. The number of hours must decrease, to provide more time for employees to live their lives.
Visiting these companies not only enhanced how I think as an engineer but taught me about business aspects that were interesting. We visited a start up firm, which helps new companies form, and I learned a lot about starting a new business from scratch. I never realized how interesting business could be, but I could see the potential in what is to come. Furthermore, I could learn some aspects that were of less interesting but good to know, like supply chain management.
Something that I learned as a lifelong skill, and can always be improved upon, is cultural understanding. There are so many different cultures across the world, some incomparable to the life I live in the United States. This trip was my first experience to Asia, a place where I feel the culture differs much more than other countries. Not only did I get to understand the culture of South Korea, I got to live it. Doing so made me understand the way of life of the natives and learning the history of the people made me realize how it became this way. Being able to walk in the shoes of another culture is difficult, but brings forth a larger understanding of the nation, and even leads to learning about oneself.
The social environment of South Korea is summed in in the coined phrase “Hurry, Hurry”. People in Korea move fast at everything they do. When they work for ten hours, they are not taking any break. Its all work. This is even seen outside the workplace. There were multiple times where I was shoved out of the way at the subway so people could get on the train as fast as possible. In Korea, its be fast and be productive. This is how they were able to come back from the Korean war, and this lifestyle worked wonders for their economy.
Regarding functioning as a team of business and engineering students, I learned a lot about multi-disciplinary functionality. The three business students in my group were some of the hardest working people I have ever met. Each one determined to strive for success, ready to take on any challenge. They were not the stereotypical college business students, and it was a real eye opener. When we worked together, we were unstoppable. We came up with great presentations and were able to think about problems in multiple perspectives. Working with people outside of engineering was a great time, productive, and a ton of fun.
Overall, I loved my time in Korea. I got to immerse myself in an incredible unique culture, learn more about industry, and meet some great people. I cannot believe the time is already over, but I hope to travel back someday. Korea was an experience I will not forget ever e