KNAPS Korea SEP_Visiting Program
In summer 2018, I was finally granted the opportunity to participate in a student exchange program. I immediately skipped through the various countries and their description of their program on the IPSF website, but to decide which one would be the best and the most interesting, was not an easy task. As I am utterly interested in Asia and the Asian culture (because it is so different compared to Europe) and the people’s approach to pharmaceutical topics I could narrow the choice down to countries in Asia. As I knew that South Korea is an extremely well developed country and that it would be specifically interesting concerning pharmacy, I decided to give it a closer look. What caught my eye instantly was the detailed description of their proposed SEP’s. It gave me the impression that someone really made an effort and compared to other organisations I was originally interested in, that made the whole difference. Shortly after getting accepted, my initial impression of a hard working and well organized organisation was confirmed through the uncomplicated and friendly email contact with members/staff of KNAPS. Subsequently I had no longer any doubt that I chose the right place to go to for my SEP and also now, when I am looking back on my time in Korea, I do not regret my choice at all and think it could have not been better.
What was the best of all the places we visited?
That is another question I can barely give an adequate answer to, because it really depends on what you want to see and what you expected. I think in general the SEP was a well-balanced mix of everything and every person could pick out things, which would be the most suitable and exciting ones for them. Also I really appreciated that KNAPS tried to combine the SEP with an authentic experience of the Korean culture, so it was not “only” visiting places, but also getting to know the country and the people who live in it. If I had to choose one of the places, which was the most interesting regarding the pharmaceutical insight, I would definitely choose the ChongKunDang Factory, as it impressed me the most. I cannot really say why, I think it was the largeness and dimensions of the factory that made a lasting impression, and also the eagerness of the people working there.
On second place would be the visit to St. Mary’s Hospital, which was really informative and we were able to see all different departments where pharmacists were involved or working. The one thing I was mostly excited for (as a girl who already knew the brand and the stores owned by it) was the Amore Pacific Factory. Although I imagined the visit a little bit different and they did not grant us a real insight into their production what I originally hoped for, they really tried to give us a show and introduce us to the beauty and progressiveness of Korean skincare and makeup. And I have to admit, they achieved that goal in the end, as we were all utterly excited and jittery when we entered and after all left the building.
Share my story- cultural experiences in Korea
For me, it would be impossible to choose and describe just one (cultural) experience in Korea, because there were a lot of it and sometimes you are not even completely aware of them if you are in that situation. But when I can say one thing about South Korea and its inhabitants, at least from the experiences that I made and the people who I met, it is the most progressive and hard working place I visited so far.
My home is Austria, which I would dare to say, is similar concerning the development of the country to South Korea, but after visiting I realised we Austrians, could still learn a lot from the eagerness of these people. And by eagerness I do not refer only to the will to work hard in your job or career, but the eagerness to always give your best and do your best to help us foreigners to have the best time as possible. At some point I already felt bad because I felt like I was treated like a celebrity. There was always someone there listening to my questions and making sure that I got what I wanted.
For example, one time I asked my lovely friend Chaerin if she knew if there were some sort of Korean luck symbols, as I wanted to bring one back home as a gift for a friend of mine, and at first nothing came to her mind so I just forgot about it because it was not that important. However, days later, people came up to me and led me to a Buddhist temple near Insadong where they believed I would find such a souvenir and they even searched every shop on the streets with me, just that I would be able to buy a minor gift. Also the homestay at Chaerin’s family in Ulsan was incredibly heartwarming, as they did literally everything to make me feel comfortable. Her father drove us around in his free time so that I could see the most interesting sights and Chaerin’s mother always got up early in the morning to prepare delicious meals for me and she did make sure that I tried and liked everything of it ♥. At some point I did not know anymore how to show them how grateful I am, for looking after me in such a loving way.
To sum up, the common thread in my Korea visit was definitely the enormous kindness of the people. Besides that, as I mentioned above, there were various experiences that I will never forget, like ordering food at the bank of Han River, drinking Soju and learning new games with our Korean friends, taking hundreds of selfies and finally learning how to eat properly with chopsticks. Thank you KNAPS and everyone involved, for making us feel welcome and at home in a country so different and so far away from ours, I will never forget it. With our last words: discover SEP, unlock the world and spread international love.