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Beyond Belgian borders: internship in South Korea

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Beyond Belgian borders: internship in South Korea    Aug 16, 2017

Beyond Belgian borders: internship in South Korea
Aug 16, 2017

Within the Master of Transportation Sciences, we give our students the opportunity to regularly exchange views with experts from home and abroad, and strongly encourage them to gain international experience themselves. Master student Muhammad Mashhood Arif did an internship in Seoul, South Korea. “Although it requires a lot of hard work, it always pays off. With your knowledge and experience growing during the internship, you will eventually feel more confident and bold in yourself.”

Master student Muhammad Mashhood Arif spent three months at Kyunghee University and at Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in Seoul, South Korea. During his internship, he developed an optimum traffic light interval using the agent-based modelling software NetLogo. “An optimum light interval reduces the waiting time of both vehicles and pedestrians taking into account different parameters such as speed limit, road courtesy and traffic intensity. With the developed transport model, we simulated various situations and tested for each situation which time interval minimizes congestion, reduces the waiting time of pedestrians at intersections and thus establishes an equilibrium in traffic flow.”

He thanks his supervisors Prof. Chang-Hyeon Joh and Prof. Chansoo Kim to turn his internship into a challenging yet rewarding experience. “I have truly enjoyed the company of my supervisors, with whom I, not only, have had weekly meetings regarding my work progress, but who were always welcoming for some coffee or lunch time together. There is not a single moment I remember when I have felt away from home.” According to Muhammad Mashhood Arif, in the friendliness of the colleagues and inhabitants, one can find a motivation to stay.

Different cultures
Although Mashhood felt at home in South-Korea, he had a culture shock after arriving in Seoul. ‘Pali pali’ – meaning ‘Hurry hurry’ – seemed not to be just a favourite expression in Seoul, but rather a way of life. “Seoul City never sleeps: office hours stretch past 11 p.m. and unlike Europe, where everything closes at 6 p.m., another life has just begun over there”, says Mashhood. “Furthermore, despite the international residents in Seoul City, I often experienced a language barrier. People working at the markets and groceries, usually don’t speak English.”

Experiencing local life
Mashhood explored the local culture. “I learned to eat with chopsticks and visited several fun festivals with my Korean friends”, says the master student. His visit to Pyeongchang county, who will host the 2018 Winter Olympics, will stick his mind forever. “We camped in the jungle, watched the ice-hockey match South-Korea vs. The Netherlands and attended a concert. We closed our trip with morning yoga on a mesmerizing beach. Can a trip be more breathtaking?”

Pursue an international experience!
“The connections that I have made, the things that I have learnt, the opportunities that have come my way... None of this would have been possible without my internship at these institutes”, concludes Mashhood. “I recommend my fellow students Transportation Sciences and those to come to pursue an international experience as well!”