Day 6 (5/26)
Today we went to some of the leading companies for technology in South Korea, SK Telecom and Samsung. Both of these companies are cell phone providers in South Korea but they also work to develop new innovative technologies for other uses.
We had a good lunch in the cafeteria at Solbridge University to start the day, and their food calf food is better than a lot of colleges in the US. After lunch we walked to the train station in Daejeon to take the bullet train to Seoul. After a very smooth, very fast 40min. train ride to Seoul we made our way to our first stop, SK Telecom.
This was by far the most impressive part of the trip for this day if not most of the trip. We were taken on a tour of the building where we were introduced to some amazing new technologies that are being developed. They showed us body scans for virtual shopping, a car system where the windshield is a display and the cars are on a network and can communicate with each other, video chat phones (which are already in use in South Korea), and a home computer wall system. The home computer wall system was one of the coolest things they had. You could make calls, have video chats, link your cell phone or computer to the system, easily transfer data from one source to the next, email, watch movies, and change the wall paper all on the walls and without touching a single thing. All the controls were motion controlled by moving in front of the wall.
After SK Telecom we went to the Samsung building. Their gadgets, such as cell phones, TV’s, and computers, were not as amazing but they were things that are available for use in the present day. There were only a few devices that were not developed yet. One of these devices was a pocket translator. The translator worked by scanning it over whatever was written in a foreign language and it showed it in words in your language on a little marquee. But that wasn’t the most impressive thing about it. The best part was that you could speak into it and across the marquee it would translate your words into the words of the foreign language you wanted so a foreigner could understand what you were saying if you wanted directions or you were ordering food.
After our trips to SK Telecom and Samsung we went to a little shopping area in Seoul. We had a nice dinner before spending an hour or so shopping. After shopping we headed back to the train station to make our way back to Daejeon and back to our dorms.
Day 5 (5/25)
The group was led to Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) in Deaduk, Innopolis. It is the aeronautics and space agency of South Korea. The agency was founded in 1989.
As we entered into the KARI, we all were handed a book that explained what KARI was and their projects, advancements, and history. We sat in a lecture style room with glass divider between the workers and us. We were able to see the big screens on which the presentation on KARI was given. We also noticed that the workers had their own computers, focusing on their tasks for the day, and not paying any attention on the big screen or us. I felt as if I was the big boss and they were my workers; the view was amazing and so was the comfortable chairs we were sitting in. Most of us did not want to get up from the chair to take a photo; it was that relaxing. Unfortunately, we had to cut the tour short because there was going to be an event going on in the KARI, so we could not receive a full tour of the Institute.
Our second destination was to the National Science Museum, built 1990 in Deajon, South Korea. Two transformer robots that were more than 100 feet tall greeted us, and I stood proudly and as tall as I could between them, catching that moment on camera. I took a quick glance at the whole Museum and noticed how big it really was; there were two sections of the Museum, and we started on the left side. The top floor started with the solar system, how everything came into play, commencing with the Big Bang theory. As I traveled through the Museum, I went through time; learning more about dinosaurs, Korean culture (I was most interested in their prints and design), Aerospace, and more. We all attended a 3D movie (in Korean, but we got the gist of it) with screaming little kids; it was funny. We concluded the visit by stopping into the souvenir shop, where no one bought anything; it was geared toward kids.
Since Ah Young’s apartment was near the Museum, she decided it would be a very good culture experience if we took a taxi back to our dorms. We flagged a taxi and we told him Woosong University; he did not know what we were talking about. It took us way over time to return back to our dorms. We did not know any street signs, which definitely could have helped us in this situation, but it was an experience. We took our taxi ride without a guide and without speaking Korean. In the end, it was worth it; we learned some new words and we learned how to get to our dorms.
Final day…on our way home.
At folk village exploring traditional culture.
On our way to a folk village.
Day 4 (5/24)
What an incredible first couple of days this has been! Today, we visited the Korea Ginseng Corporation to learn about the production and marketing of the root, which has been reputed worldwide to have tremendous health benefits.
No photography was allowed inside the building, which is unfortunate because it would have provided a clear depiction of the collectivist business culture that typically exists in Asian countries. When entering the lobby, which was ultra-modern with warm tones (nothing comparable to a factory in the US), we are greeted by our tour guide who began by sharing information about the company. The first couple of stops on the tour introduced the cleaning, trimming, selection, and packing processes. Employees sat in rows, dressed in neatly pressed uniforms, and worked incessantly. I was impressed by their focus. It seemed that only a couple of people raised their heads long enough to notice us and the ones that did, smiled and nodded, but then quickly returned to their work.
Throughout the trip, we have been learning about the education system in Korea and its value to students and their families. One piece that I found to be interesting is that there is much more emphasis placed on “studying,” to the point where that’s how most students spend the bulk of their time during the week. And the level at which student’s study (which is intense) is consistent throughout the semester, not just when there is homework or an exam approaching. At Solbridge, many students are involved in co-curricular activities, but also concentrate on their academics. Receiving anything less then the top grades does not seem to be an option…
After lunch today, I met the President of Solbridge’s student government, who was cordial and is interested in learning more about the USG at Moravian. I grabbed her information and plan to work with her to form a foundation for their organization on which they can grow.
Following our activities, we ate dinner at an authentic Korean restaurant in the countryside. The meal consisted of very traditional dishes - mostly raw - with a variety of seasonings, all very spicy. Needless to say, it was very different from American food, so much in fact that adapting was difficult. Some of it was good (we tried almost everything), but the transition was just too onerous.
At a coffee shop that serves as a meeting place for individuals to learn English. We met many local students, which was a lot of fun.
Enjoying a traditional outdoor Korean barbecue with beef, pork, onions, garlic, and other vegetables.
Pam soaking her feet in a natural hot spring, which is open to the public.