About a journey in uncertain times

Vanessa during her visit to Seoraksan National Park.

In recent times, no year has ever been as difficult to travel the world as has been the past year. Border closures, entry and exit bans and quarantine regulations made many journeys impossible. However, even this year we can report about successful and responsibly implemented travel plans.

Creglingen/Seoul. Vanessa Schell, who is completing a dual course of study in Business Administration - International Business at the headquarters in Creglingen, was able to take up a term abroad in South Korea and successfully complete it despite the Corona pandemic. From March to July this year, the 20-year-old stayed in the capital Seoul and gained valuable experience during this time.

Already in September 2019 Vanessa started to plan and prepare for a theoretical phase at a university abroad. Since South Korea is one of the countries that were affected by the coronavirus very early in 2020, detailed planning proved to be difficult, and of course she also had to consider canceling the whole trip. Together with the human resources department, she permanently kept track of and assessed the situation. To be able to travel, first it was required that South Korea was not classified as a risk area and secondly that Vanessa stayed in voluntary 14-day quarantine upon her return.

During her visit, Vanessa studied at Chung-Ang University, which with around 22,000 students is one of the country’s largest and most renowned universities. A clear contrast to her home campus in Bad Mergentheim, where nearly 550 young people study.

Due to the pandemic, the lectures were held exclusively online. "This was no problem at all for the lecturers as well as for us students. As far as that is concerned, the German education system can certainly catch up a few steps still," Vanessa compares. Also unlike in Germany, she had to write mid- and final terms, i.e. mid- and end-of-term examinations, in Korea. In addition, homework and group projects had to be completed. In video sessions, for example, Vanessa's team developed a marketing and sales strategy for a seasonal product based on key business figures. The student also took a beginner's course in Korean in which she learned the alphabet Hangul and basic phrases for everyday life.

Vanessa describes Seoul with its almost 10 million inhabitants as colorful, loud and restless. "Most of the Koreans I met were full of energy and seemed to be active twenty-four hours a day," she says. She finds the combination of tradition and modernity in the city particularly remarkable. Here you can find historic apartment buildings and temple complexes between huge skyscrapers. Thanks to the cleverly and responsibly implemented infection control measures throughout the city, Vanessa was able to visit various temples, palaces and museums as well as fancy theme cafés. Thanks to her online lessons the student was not tied to a particular place but could also explore other provinces. Among others, she visited the second largest city in South Korea, Busan, on the east coast, Seoraksan National Park in the northeast and Jeju, the country's largest island. Vanessa was particularly impressed by the contrast between the pulsating city of Seoul and the quiet mountain regions and sunny sandy beaches.

The student learned to know incredibly hospitable people. "It takes Koreans a little while to warm up with others, but then, contrary to my expectations, they are very communicative and emotional." She will never forget her time in South Korea and is grateful for the support by her university (DHBW) and Wirthwein.

Vanessa in the Gyeongbokgung Palace in a traditional Hanbok costume.

A building of the Changdeokgung Complex, one of five preserved royal palaces in Korea's capital.

Vanessa in front of the skyline of Seoul at sunset.

On the occasion of Buddha's birthday, wishes and prayers were attached to the Jogyesa Temple with colorful lamps.