2022 Summer Student Exchange Program Experience


Csillag Virág Tóth (HuPSA, Hungary)

Seoul National University, Seoul, Laboratory of Pathological Physiology & Molecular Metabolism


Ever since I started university and heard about Student Exchange Programme, I knew I wanted to participate and do my internship abroad. When I filled my application I still had no idea that I will end up in South Korea but after all I did and it’s one of the best things that happened to me! Personally I chose this country because I wanted to know a totally new culture and I read/heard really nice things about the SEP team there. 


When I arrived at the airport, a SEP member (Jaeho) was already there, waiting for me and helping me to get to the Airbnb I booked. This summer the Covid restrictions were not that bad so I didn’t have to spend time in quarantine. Even before the programme started, people from the SEP team contacted me, we could meet and have dinner and it was really helpful since Korea was a totally different country and I could ask many questions and they answered, helped me with anything. My arrival coordinator was Kyung-ha and I’m really grateful for her for being there for me and helping me. 


During these 4 weeks I could learn many thing about research and Phd in Korea and I felt special to be able to experience that. I could work with Professor Yunheen Lee’s lab at Seoul National University where they are doing research about adipose tissue. I worked with Phd and masters students, I could get to know and practice new tehcniques (western blot, genotyping) which I believe that will help me to be a better researcher in the future. I could get to know the korean work ethic and it amazed me, because they are really hardworking, humble and precise and it also motivated me to be like that. 

When I wasn’t in the lab, I was always doing something in Seoul because it’s a huge city and there is always something to do there. The SEP team organised us programs 2-3 times a week. On weekdays we mostly went somewhere to have dinner and I was really happy about it because this way they could show us traditional food and drinks (and they made sure that we try as many food as possible). I have to say that I was always a person who could not tolerate spicy food at all but ever since I came back from Korea, I have no problem with it anymore! The team was amazing and huge, every time we met, there were new people and every one of them was extremely kind. In general I would say that korean people are very kind, friendly and helpful. On the weekends we also visited different places for example the Lotte tower or the botanic garden. One of my favourite activities was when we went to Hangang park at night to eat fried chicken with cheese balls and we could have a picnic there and talk and laugh. When we didn’t have any program planned, we organised it for ourselves with the other exchange students (visiting beautiful temples and palaces, hikings) but the SEP team was always there for us, they helped us to find the best places and the best was to get from A to B. I would like to express my gratitude to the SEO of Korea, Leah who made all this to be possible.  If anyone is thinking about SEP, especially in Asia, I would definitely recommend South Korea because my opinion is that that’s the perfect country to start getting to know the Asian culture. This adventure was an exprience of a lifetime, it inculded all. I could improve my professional skills, I could explore a new country and culture and I could also make amazing friends with whom I’m sure I will meet again soon.