Day 1, Monday March 11

Here we go!  Day #1, Visit #1!  Today we started things off with the panel visit with students at KAIST University. After lunch we then walked the City Tour, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village.  What are your observations from today?  What did you learn about Korean University system, MBA programs, and the approach to education?  What did you most gain from the city tour?

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29 Responses to “Day 1, Monday March 11”

  1. Leili Says:

    From the Q&A portion, it seems as though in the U.S. there is much more fluidity to what MBA students choose to do with their degrees and the career paths they choose to pursue post-school. Students at Kaist seem to fall into very structured buckets in terms of career plans.

  2. Sneha Says:

    From KAIST, I realized that there might not be special efforts to include as many women in the program as possible. We also learned how much the educated Koreans might have been struggling to find high paying jobs and the competitive nature in education. It was amazing to learn the inbuilt support for startups funded by the university affiliations and the study room assignments

  3. Chase Says:

    When asked their favorite thing about KAIST, several students stated their favorite thing is seeing others’ reactions when they state they attend KAIST. One gave the example that taxi drivers are impressed when they ask to be taken to KAIST. I found this to be a fascinating cultural difference. I have never heard a U.S. student be this transparent.

    A fun memory was getting lost in the Bukchon Hanok Village while following our trusted leader Sol:)

  4. Nicholas Pyne Says:

    It was exciting to hear briefly from one of the student panelists about the entrepreneurial ecosystem at KAIST. In particular, I was impressed by the university program which requires student entrepreneurs to launch their businesses before being able to graduate!

  5. Chandler Moody Says:

    I really enjoyed meeting the MBA students and hearing their perspectives. I was interested in the education facts that Helen told us throughout the day. She said 80% of their country is college educated, which is extremely impressive. It made me think about how this plays into their society as a whole (low crime, clean streets, healthy long life-spans, etc). It’s also shocking to hear how hard it is to find a job in Korea. It would be difficult to get a great education, but feel as though you had to move abroad for a good job.

  6. Jackie Margol Lewis Says:

    My first impressions are different because I joined late – but I was surprised how active the streets around our hotel were in the evenings. I loved walking around the pedestrian-only streets and seeing/smelling the different street food and doing a first round of exploration of skincare products.

  7. Margaret Mauel Says:

    What are your observations from today? What did you learn about Korean University system, MBA programs, and the approach to education? What did you most gain from the city tour?

    First, I was extremely impressed by how well the KAIST students spoke English. I was reflecting on what the same presentation would look like at McCombs, and other than Sol, I don’t think any of us could have possibly carried on a panel discussion in Korean! Second, it was very interesting to hear how the fact that it is difficult to fire employees leads to finding a post-mba job extremely difficult.

    I loved the city tour! In particular, the Bukchon Hannock village was a blast to explore- I loved seeing people dedicated to “shushing” tourists!

  8. Anika Urfi Says:

    I found the KAIST University panel discussion to be the most revealing about the current economy in South Korea. Jobs are clustered around the major cities, and there is not enough of a draw for talent to move to the outskirts. The unemployment rate is comprised of mainly young professionals who are unable to find job openings. And if they want to start a new business, government regulation makes it very difficult for them to be successful even with the seed money provided to KAIST students.I spoke with one of the KAIST students, YZ, who obviously demonstrated his interest in coming to UT through an exchange program.

  9. Rachel Compton Says:

    One of the first things that I noticed in Korea that continued to astound me throughout the trip was the quietness of the city. For a bustling, urban city, there was very little noise – no horns honking, large trucks barreling down the street, or individuals shouting on their phones. I continued to experience this quietness when we visited KAIST. Rowling Hall is filled with students chatting and laughing in the stairwells and hallways, but at KAIST, everyone appeared to be tucked away in a room, quietly studying.

  10. Grace Ferguson Says:

    Everyone at KAIST was so kind and open to sharing with us about their school and experiences. I thought it was interesting to hear about how entrepreneurship was a big focus at the school. It was also interesting to hear about the different MBA programs that the school has that we don’t have. Also, they shared with us that venture capital is the most popular industry to go into. This is an industry students at McCombs like the learn about but it is not the most popular industry as it is really hard to get jobs in this industry.

  11. Emma Blumstein Says:

    During our conversations with students from KAIST, many of them mentioned how much they wanted to come to Texas, and in particular, to Austin and UT. They seemed to have done their research and gave off the impression that they were extremely excited and honored to be there with us. I found myself wondering whether or not their extensive flattery was in part due to a cultural difference. Austin is an amazing city but if I were visiting the US for the first time, I would probably rather visit NYC, DC or San Francisco first!

    Additionally, I don’t know that if they roles were reversed, we would spend quite as much time talking about how much of an honor it is to host them. That’s not to say we wouldn’t verbalize our excitement at hosting them, only that I’m not sure we would spend quite as much time praising the visiting school.

  12. Jeff Ochfeld Says:

    At the tour in Gyeongbokgung Palace, it was interesting to find out that native Koreans could visit the site for free if they wore traditional garb. It made the tour a fun people watching experience in addition to understanding the cultural significance of the palace. Also the architecture of Hanok Village was beautiful – – with the small hills and traditional homes, it was a very nice contrast to the bustling urban landscape of Seoul.

  13. Paula M Says:

    I thought the KAIST students were very respectful of their program, but were still candid (i.e. when we asked about the lack women in the program). I appreciated how the students were helping each other out if we asked questions that they didn’t understand. I was also surprised how outgoing younger Koreans are in general. They were chatting with us before the program even got started. I’m not sure that we got the full-flavor on how challenging the university system is compared to the US system, but enjoyed listening about their curriculum. dasd

    I thought it was so interesting that the Bukchon Hanok Village was in a residential area especially with all the “shhh” signs (other cultures did not respect this). I did like seeing the difference in living arrangements between the village (government officials / nobility) and the palace (royalty). I actually though the village looked more ornate in design than parts of the palace. It was hard to tell how lavish of a life the royals lived.

    The idea of dressing in “hanbok” was fascinating at the palace and the village. It seems to be highly encouraged by the government regardless of ethnic origin. It is a genius tourist attraction idea.

  14. Anna Edelman Says:

    I was fascinated by the KAIST students’ overall experience in the Korean education system. It was very interesting to hear that despite much more rigorous schooling than in the US, many Koreans struggle to find jobs after school. This is partly due to the fact that positions do not become available as often because getting fired in Korean culture is very uncommon. I also wondered if this was because Korean students have to choose a more narrow path in their education system that US students do. They seemed to specialize more in areas such as technology and investment banking, while our education system is much more general.

    Walking through the Bukchon Hanok Village was one of my favorite activities on the trip. It was so interesting to see how Koreans traditionally lived, especially when it was juxtaposed with modern shops and skyscraper buildings close by.

  15. Bryant Buraruk Says:

    During the KAIST, Q&A I found it interesting to learn that three major universities, SKY, dominate the higher educational system. This fact shed a lot of light on why South Korean students would want to study abroad and how difficult it can be to find employment if you are one of those students who did not attend a SKY university.

    What I gained the most from the city tour was how much emphasis South Korea has placed on preserving the country’s history. South Korea has gone through such a drastic change in the past 70 years that it would be easy to overlook its rich history. Preserving historical sites is a great way to see the old world blend with the new.

  16. Laura Greissing Says:

    KAIST was an incredible place and the pride that the students had was unforgettable. I was so impressed with their english and knowledge about different industries. The book cleaning machine was amazing and indicative of how clean korean’s can be! We need some of those in the US…

  17. Cecile Cosby Says:

    Walking through KAIST today was very interesting. One, I really thought it was cool that they had specific, dedicated space for them to work during the semester. I saw this as a parallel to our study teams and thought it would be nice if I had my own dedicated space to study in rowling 🙂 Second, another interesting things we commented on is how well dressed the students were. This was something we would come to learn over the course of the trip but the Asian youth always dressed very sharply.

    At the Bukchon Hanok Village I was very interested in learning about the samurai that came to murder the queen and a bit of the “dramatic” historical quotes that we picked up along our trip.

  18. Amanda Wilson Says:

    I am grateful we had the opportunity to talk to students in Korea who are at a similar stage in life as ourselves. Hearing their enthusiasm for Kaist (and Texas!) was really cool, and being able to compare and contrast our experiences was extremely interesting. I hope we will be able to return the favor if they ever make it out to Texas.

    The cultural visits were a great introduction to the city (and bus life). I l loved seeing the homes in Bukchon Hanok Village and was inspired by the architecture. I would definitely have gotten lost in the village if I hadn’t followed our fearless leader Helen!

  19. Kat Robinson Says:

    Not knowing what to expect from the KAIST visit, I found myself enjoying the Q&A with the students so much. It was a pretty unique experience to have a somewhat candid back and forth with other MBA students. I wish we could’ve gotten more from the entrepreneur who was on the quieter side. I appreciated that Orlando jumped in at the end about the gender inequality at the school which I think we were all hesitant to ask about… when he did, I immediately looked for the response on the students’ faces, but they weren’t very phased by it. I guess it’s not an untouchable subject, but they almost matter-of-fact explained how it ‘is the way it is.’

    I really enjoyed the brief wandering around the winding streets of Bukchon Hanok Village. It was definitely interesting to see the “Silence Please” signs everywhere and the attendants working in the streets to shush people to no avail (everyone was still very loud). I wonder what it’s like to live there!

    Also a quick note that I was blown away by the hospitality of Jun’s family’s restaurant, DKORE. And the fact that they’d made a huge laminated sign to welcome us (not to mention the equally impressive fact that we continued to be greeted by these custom signs on most of our visits). I was at the “Default Meal” table which was delicious, albeit spicy, but I’m trying to up my spice tolerance so I braved my way through it.

  20. Waldo Arreola Says:

    As an entrepreneur, I appreciated the support that KAIST students get to start their new ventures and many of the successful startup CEOs are celebrated on a Hall of Fame wall. I really appreciated how stylish the students and university employees were, but was wondering why they wore so many layers. Apparently they were wondering why I was wearing such few layers and they asked me directly haha.

  21. Blake Schwartz Says:

    As with Leili, I was struck by the narrow focus each of the MBA programs. In our program each of the students may have different concentrations, but we all go through the same core classes and certainly have more flexibility for classes and the freedom to alter our career paths at any moment. The different programs at KAIST felt very rigid, without much room for exploration by the student.

  22. Ramon Cordova Says:

    The evening of Day 1 was the time that I arrived in South Korea from the US. I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t participate in the visit to KAIST because I was looking forward to interacting with South Korean university students. In the US, I attended a pretty culturally diverse undergraduate university, but I was interested to see what collegiate life was like in Seoul and to ask students questions about their studies and their day-to-day life. Despite cultural differences between South Korea and the US, I imagine there was a lot of common ground to be tread between KAIST and McCombs MBA students! Once Garrett and I arrived at the hotel, we had no energy left (thanks to the all-nighter and subsequent trans-Pacific travel), so we ordered room service and went to bed early to be ready for the next day.

  23. Molly Pfister Says:

    It was immediately clear that the students at KAIST loved being there and were excited to talk to us. KAIST has a strong reputation in Korea and the students were very proud of that. Coming from a startup background, I found it interesting how KAIST students aggressively sought entrepreneurial experiences. Students are expected to start their own businesses even before graduating. On an unfortunate note, it did not sound like KAIST is actively being proactive in increasing female enrollment. Getting female enrollment to 50% is a major initiative at UT and something I hope KAIST considers in the near future.

  24. Clare Lanaux Says:

    I very much enjoyed our visit to KAIST. If I had one request, it would be to visit the MBA program after seeing the Korean companies and learning more about the culture. Because we were able to have such an open conversation with the KAIST students, it would have been valuable to me to be a bit more familiar with Korean culture and companies. For example, do any MBA student plan to work for companies like Netmarble or Kakao or do they only want to start their own ventures? These were questions that lingered with me.

  25. Jaey Li Says:

    KAIST was a pleasant surprise! My initial expectation of a “school visit” wasn’t the highest, and was mostly looking forward to the rest of the day instead. But KAIST turned out to be super interesting! The students shared interesting insights about their jobs and career outlook, which is very different from what we have in the US. The most interesting thing I’ve learned through our Q&A session was that their biggest “obstacle” for start-ups is the government regulations. I had thought the availability of capital would have been a top issue, but was surprised to find that it was the outdated regulations that really hindered the implementation of many great new ideas. I can see how that’s a big problem, given how much the general population respects the rules.

    The rest of the day was also interesting. The palace was smaller than I expected, but still included all the key elements of East Asian architectural designs. I had hoped to wear the traditional clothes as I saw many tourists do as we wandered through the palace, allowing for a more immersive experience, but I guess that might not be very practical based on the number of people we have and the tight schedule.

  26. M. Ku Says:

    What a great start to the trip. In retrospect, our KAIST visit was the most engaging and candid, and I’m grateful for the chance to talk with fellow MBA students. I was struck by the interest in social entrepreneurship, especially the students’ intention to pursue their own ventures. This in a traditionally conservative culture that values professional stability, while those of us with the benefit of being in a city that welcomes startups are actually too risk-averse to pursue one! One thing that is similar? It’s really tough to be an international student and find work in the US.

  27. Garrett Arras Says:

    Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the KAIST visit since I landed in Seoul in the late afternoon early evening. I spoke with other students about their experience and it seemed like a wonderful visit connecting with a humorous group of students. What I did learn today was truly how far away the Incheon airport was from Seoul! Also, our cab driver was very nice and gave us some recommendations on where to visit within the city. While Ramon and I must have looked like very lost foreigners, everyone at the airport was extremely helpful and gave us advice on the taxi service. It was a great introduction to experience in South Korea.

  28. Jolene Wang Says:

    In a more conservative society, career switch seems to be more challenging and riskier in South Korea than in the US. Through the panel discussion with KAIST University, it is obvious younger generations are making changes but facing a lot of challenges with the work hierarchy being so strict.

  29. Neomi S Says:

    I loved our visit to KAIST – I felt like this was the most extensive/deepest conversation we had during any of the visits. I happened to sit next to one of the KAIST students (JY) before the panel began – I was struck by how interested JY was in studying at UT. JY was prompt to add/message me on LinkedIn. It was nice to walk away with a connection. This was also the first time I saw the exchange of business cards happening with both hands. Seeing the students bow at each other was interesting too since they were peers – I wondered if they do the same with close friends. The silent hallways were a stark contrast to the chatter at Rowling Hall – it was a clear sign of what each society values. I was so happy to hear about their social entrepreneurship scholarship and the requirement to start your own company – I always pictured Korean education as more traditional but they are doing so much more to support social entrepreneurs than we are at McCombs!

    The visits to the palace and bukchon hanok village was a good way to cross-off a few touristy spots. I am not usually a fan of big tourist spots but the architecture was lovely at both spots. I felt a little uncomfortable looking at the homes in hanok and felt like we were violating their privacy. Some of the little tea houses, coffee shops and restaurants in the bukchon hanok area were really charming though – a few of us got lost in the cute little side streets!

    PS – Dinner at DKORE was awesome! Such a warm welcome. Had great conversation with one of the employees who ate with us. Delicious veggie meal.

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