Adventures in Seoul

Hello Seoul!

by Jessie Yang

‘Annyeonghaseyo!’ I greet the stewardess with a smile, excited to be able to use a word from my poor Korean vocabulary and also thrilled because this flight is the beginning of my highly anticipated exchange semester.IMG_6737Upon arrival in Seoul, the extremely nice staff at the airport arrange a taxi for my friend and I, which would take us to our hostel an hour away from the airport. Before taking the taxi the staff explicitly mentions that this taxi is only for foreigners and that the cab driver speaks English but during the drive we realize that the level of English of the cab driver is fairly disappointing. 

Even though the constant miscommunications are a bit frustrating, it does not really matter at the end because it results in an amusing conversation. ‘What is fun here in Seoul?’ I ask, hoping that he could give us some recommendations for Seoul. ‘I am not interested in hanging out.’ he responds. And that very first taxi trip in South Korea is also the first time I got rejected in this country unexpectedly.

Luckily this kind of rejection is just an exception here. For the past few weeks in South Korea I have constantly been meeting kind-hearted locals who are willing to support us foreigners during hopeless times, even when their English is not fluent. These considerate Koreans amaze me repeatedly, as it often occurs that they walk with us to our destination after giving directions, no matter how far away it is.Currently I am an exchange student at Seoul National University (SNU), which is a university with more than 200 buildings and that is bounded on all sides by high mountain ranges. SNU Campus_2Walking from the main gate of the university to the dorms means that you get to enjoy the fresh air and view for approximately 25 minutes. Because SNU is such a big university it provides free shuttle buses for the students. Usually the line for the bus is quite long and the bus rides bumpy, so I prefer walking to class. I like this option, because it not only lets you admire the gorgeous mountain scenery, it also prevents you from skipping leg day, which your body will thank you for.

After the short work out session, you get entertained during class by the hilarious lecturers – at least that is what the local Korean students would say. I remember in particular my very first class when laughter spread through the classroom after my professor said: ‘If you want to say something just raise your hand’. This is just one of the many surprisingly ‘funny’ remarks that left the majority of the exchange students confused, yet still excited, for the upcoming classes.

Laughter cannot only be found in classrooms, but also in the numerous cafeterias on campus. Each cafeteria has several mouthwatering options for just 2 to 3 euros.

Bibimbap with stir-fried squid for just 2.25 euro
Bibimbap with stir-fried squid for just 2.25 euro

When eating on campus there is no need to worry about eating the same everyday, because fortunately the menu changes on a daily basis and is different in every cafeteria. On campus you can find a world line varying from Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese to obviously Korean. Korean meals include rice with the daily specialty, kimchi, and a few side dishes. The best part of these authentic Korean meals in the cafeterias is that you get free refills of your tasty dishes – though usually you are already full after your first round.

All in all, South Korea is a country full of surprises. Being an exchange student has been a great experience so far, as it allows me to explore the unknown and break out of my comfort zone together with many others. They say travelling is good for the soul, and Seoul confirmed this! There is still plenty to uncover in South Korea, ranging from food to travel destinations and I cannot wait to experience more remarkable adventures here!

The Intern, episode 1

Flown Out

by Yanniek van Dooren

ing 28 september 2015, foto: Katrien MuldeAs summer starts to turn into fall and most of my fellow third-years have flown out to more exotic places, I am packing my stuff and preparing to leave my own nest. Unlike my classmates, who are slowly turning my Facebook wall into one big advertisement of all kinds of tropical places, I have chosen not to migrate South this year. In fact, I am moving North, to the ever so exotic town of Hoofddorp, near Amsterdam, to be an intern for ING. Now, before I take you with me on this journey and let you in on all the excitements of life as an ING intern, let me tell you how I got here.

Like many of you who are currently in their second year of IBCoM, I started out last academic year with less than perfect sense of what I wanted to do with my internship and, ultimately, the rest of my working life. If you are in my shoes right now, let me tell you: it’s completely fine. You not knowing what to do is exactly why they invented the Communication & Media Practice course, so use it to your advantage – attend the guest lectures (they’re actually pretty interesting, and mandatory too), go to as many fieldtrips as you can and talk to interesting people at the companies you visit. You will be amazed by how helpful people tend to be when you can find the courage to approach them.

For me, talking with managers and interns I met at the field trip at ING turned out to be more valuable than I could ever have imagined. Just by showing interest in the company and asking for opportunities and information, I got the chance to network with people inside and even combine a university course with a little research and consultancy for ING’s communication department. Before long, I had learned enough to not only know what I wanted to do with my internship, but to be able to convey my suitability in my applications as well.

Still, despite my preparations, my enthusiasm and the many hours I spent constructing the perfect cover letter and CV, I didn’t get accepted for the internship I ended up applying for. I didn’t even get accepted for the second one. But instead of giving in to the discouragement those rejections broughYanniek INGt with them, I cherished the interview experiences I got and kept looking for the perfect internship to come around. Fast forward a few weeks, and I got accepted not for one, but two incredible internships at ING. Two internships that fit me better than any of those I was rejected for. I still can’t quite believe it, but perseverance really does pay off.

So here I am, flown out in search for a suitable place and safely landed in a new and exciting nest. A place where I hope to develop into the singing bird I would like to be.

To be continued. Definitely.