Three Months in the “Seoul” of Asia

Eva spent three month in Korea

“My recent practical phase brought me to Asia, to a small country between China and Japan: South Korea. Here I spent three months in our subsidiary Schmalz Co., which is headquartered in Anyang (Seoul).

South Korea is as big as the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg together. The peninsula is often described as the soul of Asia. The contrasts in landscapes are impressive: high mountains, jagged cliffs, flat and sandy beaches and mega-cities, you can find it all here. The people are initially a little distant, but they never let you down once you have found your way into the community. A wonderful country that set me a few hurdles to begin with, like the food that felt like I was spitting fire or the chopsticks that became pretty dangerous weapons in my fingers. However, everything began to work better with each passing day and more and more I took the country and people into my heart. It became easier to smile at questions like “You have blue eyes. Are you wearing contact lenses?” and not respond with confusion. Or not to spit out my rice at the sight of the still wriggling squid on the lunch table, but just to try it, even if it took some effort. Even the language no longer sounded so strange after some time there, although I still can’t really speak Korean today, let alone write it.

Schmalz Korea had recently relocated to a 35-story office building and each morning I asked myself: do I walk the 362 steps (yes, I did count them) to the 14th floor or do I wait at least 5 minutes for the overcrowded lift, which is only full once two more people have pushed in after the red “lift full” light has lit up. I arranged directories, categorized customers and helped with trade show preparations during my stay. They were tasks that I would rarely deal with as a mechanical engineering student. However, it was an exciting challenge to put myself into these different processes.

The linguistic and cultural differences sometimes cannot be ignored, but that is exactly what made the stay such a special experience. How can anyone know how they deal with other cultures if they only know their own.

These three months have brought me to a country that I could not pinpoint exactly on a map, let alone knowing what to expect when I got there. I can now say that it is a blossoming peninsula hidden away by the size and speed of Asia that is a special and recommended travel destination, even for a holiday.”