How to foster an open mindset that will keep you learning during your internship in Seoul.
Patrick’s reflection on his experiences in Seoul. Describing how his love for sports in Seoul, and how his experiences here have shaped his return to the States.
Feature Story Continued
Patrick’s future goals, inspirations, and the habits he picked up during his travels in Seoul.
Special thanks to the editors, writers, and DIOKOS team for making this interview possible. We grow together.
It was scary being in Seoul alone, but I told myself that I would make mistakes and figure it out. I gained a lot of confidence and security through my travels here.
Interview with Patrick Nowlen:
We had the opportunity to catch up with Patrick a few days after his return to the States. Jetlagged and exhausted, Patrick is enjoying the slow life back at home, breathing differently after the rapidity of life in Seoul.
– What interested you in interning in Seoul?
Honestly, I was just really interested in East Asian culture. I had the option to go to either Korea or Japan, and Korea was my personal preference. I felt like I had seen more Korean culture than Japanese – so it seemed like a good fit. Plus, I wanted a new take on a different culture, and get some much-needed work experience.
– What is something you wish you experienced more of during your time in Seoul?
I wish I had spent more time with people my age in Seoul. I got the opportunity to play lots of volleyball at Seoul National University and it allowed me to learn about some of their habits: what they do on weekends, how they spend their time, and how they deal with the more rigorous academic system. I wish I could’ve applied to some colleges in South Korea during my primary school days, maybe in another life. But, hearing about more of academic life, the stresses, victories, and the structure – is something I want to do more of next time I’m in Seoul.
– What was your favorite experience in Seoul?
It would have to be playing volleyball with some of the students at Seoul National University. It was awesome to get to participate in this activity that I love in a foreign environment. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, it was a sport and we bonded through our love for the game.
My favorite destination I visited was easily Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon. It was the first time I had seen such a well-preserved cultural heritage sight. From intricate woodworking to the faded paint with its warm, vibrant colors – the fortress was stunning!
– Who will you remember most from your time in Seoul?
It would have to be our boss Danny Han. Not only was he the person we spent the most time with during my trip, but so much of my experience was shaped by the assignments he gave, the projects he assigned, and the advice he shared. He taught us so many valuable cultural lessons every day. This was my first formal internship, so going into it, I was very nervous. It made me even more nervous knowing that we would be working under the company’s CEO. So many questions rushed through my head and of course, I was the most worried about disappointing. To my surprise, he was incredibly understanding and welcoming – explaining to me that as long as I had an open mind and willingness to learn, everything would work out.
-What are your plans for the future?
Korea expanded my worldview so much. In fact, when I touched down in the States, I almost instinctively said kamsahabnida (thank you). I am instinctively giving and receiving gifts with two hands. I am bringing respect home with me for sure. It was amazing to have that comparison between the culture of the States and the culture of Korea and going forward I want to integrate aspects between the two. Most importantly though. Korea is going to be on my mind. I loved everything, from the people I met, to the food I ate, to the places I visited. That will probably start with learning the language, which will be a fun challenge, but I definitely want Korea to be in my future somewhere.