Semester Abroad During The Pandemic at Seoul National University
David Wojciech’s experience abroad at Seoul National University
The global pandemic posed a new challenge when it came time for HHL’s students to go abroad. Would they still be able to spend a semester abroad, discover a new culture and meet other students in person? Luckily, many students were able to safely travel and are now back to share their experiences with us.
This interview is part of a series of study abroad stories. We have linked all blog posts below for you to enjoy.
FRANCE: ESCP in Paris
Full-time Master in Management student Roman Pastoors spent the winter semester 2020 in Paris, studying at the French campus of ESCP. An experience he wouldn’t have wanted to miss, even though it included another lockdown at the end of his term. >> Read more
SPAIN: La Salle Barcelona & EADA Business School
Johannes Leonhard Hauschild on his time in Barcelona >> Read more
Jonathan Heimer sharing his thoughts on studying and staying in Barcelona >> Read more
SOUTH KOREA: Seoul National University
Livia Jansen-Winkeln reporting about her experience abroad at Seoul National University >> Read more
GERMANY: Exchange student at HHL
Jorge Luis Ramirez Dorantes from Mexico speaks about his experience as current exchange student at HHL in Leipzig >> Read more
What is the most inspiring learning experience abroad you have had until today?
For now, I think the state of digitalization here in Korea is really interesting. Korea doesn’t have much more advanced applications with amazing features but their apps are able to create value by scaling smaller (but very useful) features. These features are implemented in applications that are used by nearly every Korean. Korea’s dominant players are not Amazon, Google, Uber or Paypal but local companies such as Coupang, Naver and Kakao. They offer the same features as the mentioned Silicon Valley companies. The key to their success is having business models and features that match the needs of Koreans consumers exactly and are perfectly suited to the peculiarities of the Korean market.
What was the most impressive cultural experience?
First of all, it was great I was able to have a somewhat “normal” semester abroad including meeting new people, enjoying amazing food and going out to the bars. For many people hiking one of Korea’s many mountains is a weekly exercise. The mountain trails are full of people from every age group. It was particularly surprising to see a lot of elderly people even at the most exhausting trails of South Korea’s highest mountain Hallasan.
How has your stay in Seoul helped you to expand your network?
There are two things that stand out for me: firstly, a program called “SNU Buddy” that is organized by SNU students for exchange students. The Korean “Buddies” organize weekly events which take place in groups of four (due to Covid-19 restrictions). The program helps to connect with students from all over the world. The second program is called “Happy Hour” and is usually an event where MBA students meet with their professors at a restaurant to eat and have some drinks together. These two programs helped me to get to know many people and not only expand my network but to also find new friends.
How has HHL supported you during your time abroad?
HHL supported me especially in planning before the semester abroad. Not only the HHL staff assisted me but also former SNU exchange students from HHL. From how to apply to SNU to where to live in Seoul, I didn’t have any questions unanswered and had a smooth transition to my life in Seoul.
Is there anything else you would to share with the community?
I would just recommend everybody to visit Korea one day. It is a really fascinating country with extremely friendly and welcoming people, amazing food and beautiful countryside.
And for everyone thinking about doing a semester abroad I would definitely recommend doing it, as one can learn and grow so much.