Breaking down cultural barriers

It was a very exciting opportunity to be able to not only visit another university, but be able to spend the day there and experience the lives of students and their studies. Our visit to Hanyang University turned out to be one of my favorite things that we did. It was a little uneasy at first because of the language barrier and the clear differences in classroom behavior. Once the ice was broken, we found many similarities in the expectations for our studies, research topics, and future goals.

The group of students that we spent the day with had been given the day off from class so that they could talk to us and do a project that was planned. The hospitality, like the entire time in Korea, was incredible,and the students there were happy to give us a tour of the campus and explain their student lives. It turned out, that all of us were equally as nervous and unsure what the day would bring. It was an interesting dynamic to see the way that they tended to be more shy and did not speak up in class as it is disrespectful to them. I couldn’t help but think that this difference was almost inconceivable because our grades and overall evaluations are based on class participation and discussion.

We were assigned to create a public relations plan for the branding or rebranding of a business or service of our choosing. The group that I worked with chose Lotteria, which is a sit-in/fast food type restaurant in Seoul. Apparently the chain had recently had to close some locations, was typically found in suburban areas, and had had the same menu for quite some time. It was a very interesting and unique experience to work with a group where half of us had no idea about this place, only knew what we did about Seoul and its people from the time that we had spend there, and were formulating a plan for a community in which we did not belong.

As our planning expanded to marketing and advertising, locations, target audiences, and quarterly menu changes, we were very serious about how successful and effective we thought our plan could potentially be; seeming to forget that it was just an exercise. The surprising part was, it was one of the most fulfilling things that we had done on our trip. It was such a great lesson and experience to work with not only other students, but to have to adapt to language barriers, cultural differences, and thinking strategically about something that we knew nothing about.

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