Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Seoul Semester: S3 Asia MBA

Beautiful Seoul situated on mountains is an amazing place to be (at least once in the lifetime). S3 Asia MBA semester in Korea University Business School starts around 15th February.

First feeling I got on Seoul airport was - " Oh my God! Its freaking cold". The snowfall has just stopped (but if you are lucky you can witness 1 or 2 more during the semester) and the traces of snow are still there on the roads. Our super nice Korean friends drove us to the CJ international Dormitory from airport. . CJ International Dormitory is situated on "Mount CJ" (That's what we call it because you never get tired of cursing that mountain every time you come back from class). 

Overall Seoul is a very beautiful city, super organized, neat and clean. After bearing the language and cultural shock in Shanghai, Seoul is pretty easy to live. People here can understand basic English (atleast you can get food and taxi very easily). Also, by the end of Shanghai semester my Korean classmates already taught me some Korean words like - Khamshamida (Thank you 감사합니다), Khanchana (Its alright!괜찮아), Anyonge (Hello/Bye 안녕). Oppa (Big brother 오빠 - if the girl is saying, for boys its different), Onni (big sister 온니- again if the girl is saying, Nuna 누나- big sister, if the boy is saying). Reading Korean is also very easy. Normally people learn it in 3 days (however, understanding it is really difficult) Korean language is little tricky but after spending a semester with Korean I could easily link the culture to the complications of language (that's one of the fun parts of being in S3 Asia MBA). 

Korean orientation was amazing. Everybody was distributed in groups and given 40,000 won to go around 5 famous places in Seoul, take lot of pictures (accompanied by the photographers) and give presentation at the end of day based on those photos. After the presentation was a drinking session. Students have to go on stage, scream out the introduction in Korean language and drink a big bowl of Korean Rice wine (bottoms up.. no excuses allowed). Post drinking there is some crazy and tiring dancing (everybody has to do it in group.. until you drop dead or about to puke :P)

Study wise Korea has 2 different modules. Each module is for 2 months. So course is little bit hectic compared to Shanghai. Plus, you have to keep on applying for internships. 
First module - Marketing Management, Operations Management, Business in Korea and Japan, Field trip
Second module - Corporate Finance, Business Ethics, Managerial Accounting, Business Insight, MIS. 
First module is light but second is very quantitative and difficult (especially for people like me who hate finance)
Korean language classes run side by side but that is again zero credit so I gave up after 2 classes. 
Among all these courses - Field trip is the best because you enjoy 4 day fully paid vacation in a nice 4 star Hyundai hotels outside Seoul. Our class also planned a Busan trip after the field trip.

We also get 9 days vacation in between 2 modules so many people planned a trip to Japan or Jeju. I traveled around Seoul during that time. 

Important points about Seoul: 
  • Beef is a very common food in Seoul and sometimes the curry or soup contains beef so being a Hindu I had to keep checking it. Even the instant noodles contain beef. 
  • There is a community called IndiansInKorea on facebook, join it if you wish to hangout with Indians. They keep organizing events. I had a Indian friend associated with that group so I personally went to many trips with them.
  • Koreans are very nice people. Just don't piss them off and they will try their best to help you. 
  • Korean currency is crazy. (USD 1 = 1000 Korean Won) so just discard the last 3 zeros for easy conversion. 
  • Lot of sea food available everywhere around the city. They even eat raw fish, octopus and what not.