So the game has started, the 1st quarter has ended, we’ve adjusted, and now we are really in Korea. We got a great coach, Dr. Kim. She’s helped us with big stuff like acclimating to Korea and understanding cultural norms, and little things like bus tickets, restaurant orders, Korean phones, and more. At the end of the day though, it’s really us and our less than proficient Korean on the field, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The easiest thing to describe is work. It’s predictable, organized, and a safe learning environment really. Here at CJ, everyone is very friendly and inclusive. They are very forgiving of some cultural norms I find myself forgetting. There is a language barrier sometimes, but it works. Everybody is trying to communicate and there is patience and repetition. As important, you also learn technical knowledge. In my case, I have been learning to operate material characterization machinery and engaging with packaging methodologies. So 10/10. (There are also free snacks here;)
Also, in between, once a week, we have Dr. Moser’s workshops, which are fun. They’re a chance to get away from the language barrier and focus on the art of communication itself. It is also enjoyable to chat with the other members of the program who are going through a similar experience.
Then you have excursions. 2 days ago we went hiking to Gyeryongsan National Park. I was under the impression that it was a hilly park rather than a real mountain hike. While at GS25, I thought everybody else was buying too many snacks for a trail walk, and realized my misunderstanding 700 meters away from the ground and miles away from the nearest restaurant. I did enjoy the restaurant when we got down though.
More day to day, something that is very enjoyable here is trying out the restaurants. Typically, English is limited so you have to go halfway on your Korean which is fun. Now, Korean food is great. It is spicy, but that spice adds to the flavor rather than overtaking the platter. International food tastes pretty much the same here. Korean Mexican food tastes like American Mexican food. Korean Italian food is like American Italian food, though the platters are served differently (for the table, rather than for a person). However, American food is very different. It has less meat. And you can also notice the difference when it comes to Indian and Chinese food here. And this is more for the reader, but the best American food here is actually a Korean-Japanese restaurant called Lotteria (in my opinion).
P.S. You will need to learn some Korean in CJ, and be a really good listener. It is a multi-billion dollar company and most of the work going on around you is in Korean. When somebody forgets a word, you may need to know that 필름 means ‘film’ or 교수님 means ‘professor.’