Hey AIESEC Western! We’re happy to introduce our first blog spotlight from our EP Story Series! For those of you who don’t know what an “EP” stands for, it’s a short form we use to call “Exchange Participants.” These are the people whom represent the very values of AIESEC as they take the leap to go abroad and be able to utilize their skillset through either AIESEC’s GCDP or GIP programs.
Evan Chen, 2nd year BMOS student at Western recently went on GIP to Daejon, Korea during his first year summer. We caught up with him and asked some brief questions to let our readers get a sense of his experience!
“Going to teach English in Korea was an amazing experience. It really put me outside my comfort zone and I had to learn many things on the fly. I will never forget the time I spent there and would recommend an international experience to anybody.”
How was your experience?
Fun, will remember for the rest of my life!
What did you do (work/volunteer) over in Korea?
Teach English: Facilitated English discussion with children 8-13, assisted with special needs children, helped with community events at local church.
How did you find the culture?
Very different, subtle differences in interacting with elders, drinking culture and nightlife was extremely fun!
Favourite part of the trip? Least favourite part?
Favourite: Going to Seoul to meet new people, clubbing, and exploring the nightlife
Least: Not having any English speakers during the work week, having responsibilities that were not in the contract sprung on me.
How did AIESEC Western facilitate your experience? How was the local AIESEC community?
AIESEC Western: Vicky Cheng answered some questions I had during the beginning of the exchange
Local Chapter: Only interaction with them was picking me up and putting me on a bus and 1 phone call with the TM president.
Reflecting back: Anything that you wish you would’ve done or never got a chance to?
I wish I tried to learn more Korean, interact sooner with the student teachers I was working with.
What advice would you give people setting out on an AIESEC exchange?
Make sure you can find your own friends, don’t count on the local LC to help you.
Finally if you were to rate it out of 10 (10 being best), what would you give your experience?
So if you’re like me, you’re screaming: where can I learn more! During his trip, Evan liveblogged his experience on his personal blog: http://koreakeke.wordpress.com/
It’s a fantastic read and experience into what he felt in the moment! There is a wealth of detail on each topic and I’ve added a short post from his blog below:
THOUGHTS ON THE INTERNSHIP AND KOREA
Food: Koreans love fried chicken. The kids love it, the adults love it, you can’t walk around for 5 minutes without seeing a chicken and beer place. I have probably ate more fried chicken in the past 3 months then I have in my entire life leading up to it.
The soups are very hit or miss. I find them to be either very salty and spicy or just plain and bland.
The family: The family I live with are community leaders. There are always people over at the church and the family is well respected. I feel important with them although sometimes have a joke at my expense. (usually in reference to my age or ethnicity)
Nightlife: North America really needs to embrace the Korean nightlife mentality.
1.There is no last call so people can actually get a cab when they chose to go.
- There are no open container laws.
- You can buy alcohol everywhere. (Corner stores right outside the club sell it!)
It’s a really great time, no drugs as laws are so strict here, people are nicer and the prices are certainly better. One thing that isn’t as great is a lot of people here tend to ‘wallflower’. Go to any club and you will see many people against the wall, checking their phones, smoking and awkwardly looking at people of the opposite sex. Perhaps you say we have this in NA but it’s much more so in Korea.
Clothes: Streetwear is pretty big in Korea. It’s also a little cheaper, not a lot but a little. There is a ton of hypebeast stuff and way more stores carry it. There’s also a ‘uniform’ for Korean guys. It’s a loose fitting white shirt tucked into black shorts with an informal belt. You see so many people wearing the same outfit it’s a little funny.
Transportation: Traveling from Daejeon to Seoul is so easy with the KTX. The high speed train takes a little less than an hour to get from one stop to another. The public transportation is also amazing. There is a system called T-Money and every city uses it for public transit. You buy a card and fill it with money and just tap to pay. You can also use T-Money to pay for lockers at the station, taxis, pay phones and more.
Friends: I’ve met some amazing people in Korea that I honestly did not expect to meet. By a chance of fate, I have met some great friends and as well, have strengthened the bond with old ones
Coworkers: My coteachers are so funny. The limited English they know makes for some hilarious conversations, especially when they pull out a word I don’t expect them to know. Some of them are trying to improve their English to go to Canada and America so I try to talk using online translators and gestures. I wish they came sooner and not just in the last 3 weeks.