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Ing Jan Ullsperger, UCT Prague, ročník 5

Faculty Faculty of Chemistry and Ttechnology
Field of study Chemical technologies
Field of internship Chemistry, Material Science, and Chemical Engineering
Specialization of InternshipAny
Internship period (from - to) 1.9.2018 - 31.5.2019
Internship duration (weeks) 39
Transport (means, price) Flight, approx. 400EUR one way
Insurance/Insurance company True Traveller insurance
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) yes
Price of Visa Approx. 60EUR
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  South Korea, Daejeon
Internship reference number KR-2018-KIER-H1

About the country

Location of the place

The employer was located in Daejeon city, approximatelly 20 minutes from the city centre.

City

Daejeon is a million city located approx. 2 hours by bus south from Seoul. It is a very modern city known for its high concentration of research institutes. You can find many restaurants, cinemas, sport centres and other attractions (karaoke rooms noraebang, PC rooms) around the city. Night life in Daejeon is breathtaking, as well as in other big Korean cities.

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

You can travel to the rest of Korea from Daejeon by sophisticated network of buses and trains. Seoul can be reached in two hours. Muju ski resort is just one hour far away.
Korea provides beautiful nature with endless hills which can be appreciated mainly by hikers. Many hills are situated in protected areas together with Buddhists temples. The temples are basically the only historical buildings in Korea since all the cities are very modern.
Korean climate is similar to our with some differences, especially during the winter when the temperature can fall below -10°C.

Employer

Employer

I worked at the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER). Besides its curious name it is famous for development of technologies for production/storage of energy and also energy-related chemical technologies (e.g. CO2 absorption).

Work description

My team deals mainly with computer simulations of solid materials (DFT theory), but also with applications of machine learning for this area of research. The work was very interesting and motivating for me, partially because of great working culture (we had regular team lunches, dinners and workshops). All of my collegues could speak english well, which was unfortunatelly not true for most of other teams. Another advantage was rellatively easy-going work pace that is typical for government research institutes but far away from work pace of some Korean big companies.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

Salary was sufficient for covering of life expenses and for some traveling around Korea and other countries in south-east Asia.

Language requirements

I communcated English at my work. A communication in Korea is generally a problem if you cannot speak Korean. Many Koreans don't speak English so it is very helpful to use translator apps. If staying more than year, learning some basics of Korean is a must. Korean alphabet (hangul) is relatively easy and convenient to learn.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

I lived in the dormitory provided by the institute. The rooms were shared for two people. Every room had its own bathroom and a kitchen was shared for the whole floor (so it was correspondingly messy). The biggest advantage of this dormitory was its price and the quality was proportional to that.

Social life

Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organised events...)

The IAESTE members picked us up at the Incheon airport and instructed us how to get to the Daejeon.

Meeting other foreign students

I worked at the institute with 6 other IAESTE interns from Europe. We became good friends and spent together much of our free time. A big university complex (KAIST) was close to our institute that provided lots of sport/culture courses for foreign students and I met there many interesting people as well.

Sport and culture

The institute was located 20 minutes from the city centre. There was a Sinsongdong neighborhood in the vicinity, where it was possible to have a dinner and buy basic stuff for living. Even though I had some problems with mobile operator and bank, it was possible to order food delivery. Inside the campus there was a canteen with cafeteria (breakfast, lunch, dinner), a small grocery store and sport facility (gym, tenis courts).

Food, local specialties

The traditional Korean cuisine is based on rice and kimchi (marinated cabbage with spicy sauce). Kimchi is an universal side dish and there is lots of different types. Tofu is another typical ingredient. Pork, beef or seafood are main parts of most popular dishes. Dishes are usually served in form of soup bowls. Very popular serving style is Korean barbeque with table grill used to gril raw ingredients at the place. Pork entrails soup or KFC-style chicken are another interesting traditional meals. All in all, Korean food is very spicy which was convenient for me but not for some of my other friends. Korean poeple drink lots of homemade or imported beer during the dinner and also a wheat destilate soju.

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

I communicated with people from Czech mostly in the evening hours due to the time shift (7 or 8 hours).

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

As of today, all foreign employees at KIER pay a national health insurance so it is not necessary to get a travel insurance for the whole stay (I recommend to buy t.i. for couple of first weeks that can be extended if needed). It is advantageous to use Korean chatting app KakaoTalk. Google Maps don't work in Korea, and KakaoMaps is the first choice instead of it. It is possible to get a wireless debit card that can be used to pay in public transport in the city. The most famous online shops are GMarket and Coupang.

What not to forget with you

Open-mindness. You will meet lots of interesting people. Patience. Korean bureaucracy is huge and unfamiliarity with Korean language makes everything harder.

Benefits of the internship

I see benefits on two levels. First I gained professional skills and experience that helped me to make a career move. The internship was a significant-plus when I was applying for my future job. Second I met lots of interesting people that I would never meet back in Czech Rep.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country

The members of Korean IAESTE organization communicated without any delay, but did not provide some important facts like we will pay a national health insurance from our salaries. However, even the institute employees did not know this. Generally, very few people at the institute were able to explain us what were the deductions from our salaries, how the tax refund works etc.

Overall experience with IAESTE

I would recommend this internship to everybody who wants to meet new places/culture/people as well as to those who want a bright record in their CV.

Student's website

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Employer's webiste

https://www.kier.re.kr/eng/

Other useful links

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Other comments

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