And how are things in Daejeon?23 January 2017
South Korea is usually seen as a relatively unknown, but also wealthy and high-tech country. The connection with North Korea is easily made because of all the news related with the latest Kim-dynasty ruler: Kim-Jong-Un. However, South Korea has a lot to offer for an exchange student as myself: good and cheap food, the many karaoke nights, sleeping in the library next to the Korean students, the neon-lighted streets of Seoul; and the chance to see North Korea closely, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
My adventure during the last months was in Daejeon at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). This is one of the most prestigious university in Korea where every Korean wants to study. An important reason for this is that you won’t have to do military service if you are going to study a PhD at KAIST.
The Korean culture is quite different to the Dutch culture. The Koreans tend to a lot of things excessive. It is quite normal to work long days sometimes even of twelve hours or longer of which they sleep a relatively big part of it. This is perceived as normal since a hard working person also deserves some rest. It is not unusual for Koreans to fake the sleeping at work to let others think that they have worked long hours.
There is also a big power distance between an older and younger person. To give one example, a younger person may not refuse something from his superior. A well-known problem is that this stimulates the drinking culture in Korea since the superior is supposed to give rounds of drinks to the younger people. On the other hand, this also gives many nice evenings at the karaoke bar with the normally shy and closed Koreans!
South-Korea is also a beautiful country. Hiking is the national sport and every weekend you will see busses full of people going to the nationals parks. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of these masses since the beautiful nature and views are absolutely worth it. It also gives a nice contrast with the busy lives of the city. All in all, South-Korea is a diverse country with a lot of possibilities for an exchange semester, you might be the next one?
감사합니다 (Thank you!)
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