SEOUL CURRY Ashish Anja, from the one-year MBA at IIMB, shares the good and the unexpected from a visit to KAIST in South Korea

Before boarding the flight to Seoul, South Korea, our seniors said: “The International Immersion Programme is a much-needed break in this intense course, make it count!” Our professors said: “This is a unique learning opportunity, make it count!” Little did we know that we were in for an experience of a lifetime, which would prove both the statements true!

After slogging for three terms and going through some intense interview rounds with our prospective recruiters, we (the students of the one-year MBA – the Executive Post Graduate Programme in Management 2019-20 at IIM Bangalore) saw the Immersion as a welcome break from our routine. While some of our more enthusiastic friends were already planning on which places to visit, what food to eat and where to shop, much before the trip was to start, some others were getting nightmares thinking about the projects and the related workload of this two-week course at a foreign university. 

Our group, consisting of 25 students and Professor Hyun Chul Maeng, started the journey to KAIST on 23rd November 2019. At the Incheon airport, we were welcomed by our travel guide and taken to the Gangnam Family Hotel, which would be our home for the next two weeks. 

The next day, we were in the classroom, listening to Professor Betty Chung from KAIST, who was a very welcoming and informative host.

Most of our classroom sessions were addressed by eminent personalities ranging from Her Excellency Sripriya Ranganathan, Indian Ambassador to South Korea, to Jae Choi, Chief Strategy Officer at Doosan Infracore, as well as industry leaders and scholars. We had site visits to the headquarters of several corporations, special visits to the KIA Motors plant at Hwaseong, and a visit to the Samsung Innovation Museum. By the time we began Week Two, we were familiar with the history and culture of South Korea, and had some understanding of the business landscape of the country. We started working on our projects and got an opportunity to interact with some of the business leaders of South Korea as well as the ‘chaebols’ (large family-owned business conglomerates).

We watched the ‘Nanta Show’ and visited ‘Lotte World’, we toured Changdeokgung Palace, the N Seoul Tower and the famous shopping streets of Insa-dong and Myeong-dong. All along we experienced the warmth and welcoming hospitality of the locals and were treated with a lot of love and care. The overall planning and execution of the scheduled programme was spot-on. Even though it was an intense course with considerable workload, we enjoyed every moment of it.

Most of us in the group eat vegetarian food, and hence, had to face some challenges on the food front. But we soon connected with fellow Indians running restaurants in Seoul to fulfill our craving. We also fell in love with the subway system that made us feel rather independent.

Seoul has outstanding public transport infrastructure. This enabled us discover the city after college hours and experience the ‘always on’ nightlife of Seoul. Be it the museums, the memorials, the VR gaming parlors, the city markets or the nearby islands – we sampled them all. 

As our seniors had predicted, we had the time of our lives, exploring and enjoying the city of Seoul, and as our professors had promised, these were two very productive weeks as MBA students.

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