After visiting Beijing, I continued my study abroad experience in Seoul, South Korea. One of my favorite memories from Korea was our first night when a group of us went to a hole in the wall Korean barbeque spot right next to our hotel. We couldn’t speak the language but were able to sit down, order, and learn how a meal is typically enjoyed in Seoul. Our waiter cooked our food, showed us the proper order to eat it in and what toppings went with what. I think experiencing a country's food is one of the best ways to break down barriers and gain insight into their culture, and it was such a fun first night spent with good friends (It was also easily one of the best meals I have ever had!). Our hotel was located in the heart of the Gangnam district (yes, we sang the song like every day), and we were able to explore the city in between meetings and in the evening. It offers some of the most beautiful architecture and amazing nightlife I have ever experienced during my travels.
During my time studying abroad in Asia, we had the opportunity to visit a wide variety of businesses, and I think I enjoyed the company visits In Seoul most because I found the Korean people to be extremely open and easy to talk to about any questions we had. Our first stop was Hanwha Group, a multi-profile business conglomerate with diversified holdings stretching from explosives to retail & financial services. It was everything I envisioned a company in South Korea to be: modern, innovative, and highly collaborative. Next, we visited PNG, a textile company that originated in Norman, OK. It was really cool experiencing a company with such strong ties to OU thriving abroad, and they really made the experience like a home away from home. We each received personalized custom OU hats, which was the most thoughtful gift and something I will keep forever to remember the trip by. Other companies that we visited included Taihan Textile and Dreamplus.
By far the most formative experience during my time in Asia was visiting the DMZ. I will never in my life forget what it felt like to look across the border into North Korea for the first time. It was an honor being able to learn from Economic Officer Cameron Jones at the US Embassy about our relations with North Korea, and the experience helped me gain better insight into the history of the Korean war and its implications today.
Some other highlights of the trip included having tea at a traditional tea house, visiting the Seoul Tower, and experiencing a traditional Buddhist Temple. The shopping scene in Korea was amazing too, and the street markets in Seoul are great places to experience authentic Korean lifestyle, mingle with friendly locals, and browse through a vast range of goods. Most of these markets stay open year-round and are easily accessible via subway trains and buses. I was particularly looking forward to learning more about Korean skincare and fashion, so I was sure to visit Dongdaemun Market to stock up on my favorite sheet masks/ serums and experience the most trendy apparels, jewlery, and accessories. Seoul was one of the coolest cities I have ever visited, and I hope I get the opportunity to do business in Korea and experience more of the beautiful country one day.