This summer I was lucky enough to be funded by Imperial College to travel to Seoul, South Korea where I spent eight weeks working in a research group at the university, SNU (Seoul National University).

Tim Harrington in lab

In my time there, I was able to meet the friendly staff and students in the research team and work alongside them, gaining experience with top-range scientific equipment. I was given a short coding project to do at the start using Matlab – a language I had never been exposed to before. My supervisor gave a lot of his time to help me get to grips with the programme.

The second part of the exchange involved doing more experimental work in the labs at SNU. This involved some reading and after being taught how to operate the valuable machinery, I was able to use it to conduct my research project which was a valuable experience.

The work load wasn’t too intense which stemmed

 from the fact my supervisors realised that an important part of the exchange was to experience South Korea and the culture. Evenings were spent wandering around the capital, exploring parks, temples, shopping districts, restaurants and lots of other interesting things. Weekends provided a good opportunity to explore the country. I took trips down to Boryeong for their annual ‘mud festival’ which was a unique experience and I also visited Busan – a common holiday retreat for many Koreans on the coast. It was really interesting seeing lots of sights and experiencing many different things you just couldn’t come across in England or any other part of the world. A personal fav

Having completed the exchange in early September, this left me time to do my own self-organised travelling around Eastern Asia while I was over there. I had another month visiting Beijing, Tokyo and even North Korea which added to the incredible summer.ourite of mine was sleeping in the ‘jimjilbangs’ in Busan (having found no accommodation for the night). Throughout my time in South Korea I was able to meet many different people. The best way of experiencing the culture was to hang around with locals. By doing this I was able to try most of the traditional culinary dishes and drinks as well as living like a Seoulite. This included lots of maekju and chicken, somaek and karaoke bars – all best experienced at the simultaneously!

My exchange to SNU was one I will never forget. It was full of interesting cultural experiences while meeting new people and seeing what it is like to work within a research department."

 I would recommend this opportunity to anybody. I think having work experience over the summer is useful, though the chance to go abroad and work alongside and living with people in a completely different country is a far more valuable and self-developing experience. I look forward to my return trip to South Korea in the near future!