Removing the Fear of Being Unfamiliar, Eindhoven Welcomed Me Warmly Like a Family.
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- Registration Date : 2015-07-31
I had never studied abroad. It was true that I am afraid at first. However, my professor's recommendation and my senior's advice, as well as my drive for research led me to go on. Of course, the fear was just a fear. It was a short period, but the friendliness of my colleagues and homestay family made me feel comfortable at home.
Just a two-month stay was a challenge? Yes, it was a challenge to me!
While diligently preparing a paper on next-generation elements under the instruction of Professor Yun Sun-jin at the ETRI campus, I heard that the professor's research was assigned as a topic of international joint research in a school in the Netherlands.
The professor asked me to go and join the research. However, I could not help but hesitate at first when I knew that it would take some time to complete the research in the said country. Moreover, I had never been abroad! Staying abroad alone was as if I stepped into a undiscovered world all by myself. What was the first impression of a flight for Eindhoven? It was a fear in itself.
I could not make up my mind, so I asked my senior who had studied there for advice. The senor strongly recommended me to join the research. My mind began to change, and the first fear gradually turned to a little excitement. I tried to comfort myself by saying, "Okay, let's do it. I am not totally alone because there be a professor who will teach and guide me there." I do not deny that I was still scared, but it was clear that I wanted to challenge something new.
Warm-hearted and friendly Dutch family and research colleagues
Even though UST would pay all costs for a stay and research during the joint research program, I could not just enjoy the luxury. I thought I was not supposed to do that and I did not want to either. Thus, I decided to find a place where I could stay comfortably because I thought I would be able to be more focused on tow-month research.
I eventually found Airbnb. It was similar to homestay, but not exactly as it is. I spent two months with a Dutch family. The stay was more than I expected. I had a meal with the family once a week, and the family were so generous and thoughtful that I was really happy. They taught me one or two Dutch words over a meal, which were very useful. They also helped me go and buy something in the market.
I still remember two research colleagues who conducted experiments with me there. One of them is a Chinese friend named Ingwang who was in a post-doctor program and who had known one of my UST seniors. Because of that, we became close and spent some time together in a lab. After our daily work, we had dinner, and even the colleague introduced me to other people. This enriched my life in Eindhoven more than I expected. The other was a Dutch colleague named Pin, who helped me the most during experiments. I realized that not only minor information such as languages, customs, and living environments but also colleagues's help was very important in living a foreign country.
A successful experiment and a poster paper presentation in a seminar in Amsterdam
There had been no particular difficulty in conducting the experiments because I had conducted the same experiments in Korea, and failing in an experiment before, I was given a few other chances with equipment I had never used before in Korea until I drew right results. Except for the fact that the experiment was a very hard and a time-consuming task.
It was not easy to use completely new experimental equipment in a foreign country. However, I got over the hard task thanks to my Dutch professor and colleagues. My colleagues frequently helped me use the equipment, and my professor gave me helpful pieces of advice whenever I faced difficulties. Now, I am preparing a paper with data from the successful experiments.
There was nothing special for sightseeing in Eindhoven, but in Amsterdam, where I visited to attend a seminar, was very impressive. It took one hour and 30 minutes by train from Eindhoven to Amsterdam. The distance may be between Seoul and Daejeon. A windmill village near the city impressed me most. People may think windmills are familar in the Netherlands, but they were more memorable scenes to me just because windmills represent the country.
I presented a poster paper instead of an oral presentation during a seminar in Amsterdam. A poster presentation is the presentation of research information by affixing research posters to a portable wall so that other researchers can see them. It was an unfamiliar and invaluable experience because I had not had any opportunities to give a poster presentation abroad.
Likewise, my two-month experiment and stay in the Netherlands ended. However, as my paper reflects the experimental data that I acquired there, the memories there are still vivid in my mind, and they had enriched my life in Korea more than ever.