Speedy Gonzales

Monday morning had arrived, another beautiful sunny day in Seoul. With only a couple of hours of sleep and a quick breakfast from the 7/11 we all hopped on the metro to visit our second university of the trip: Korea University.
Text by: Jasper Mol

After a short walk from the metro station we arrived at the university campus. The campus felt very wide and American, the buildings were well-spaced and impressive. Both the average height of our group and the fact that most of us looked slightly hungover, made us easy to be recognized by our guides. They briefly introduced themselves and immediately relieved me from some of my hungover related headache by commenting on the symmetry of the university campus, which any true econometrician can appreciate. After this they started their tour and led us through some of the university’s buildings. During the tour they also told us about their rivalry with Yonsei University, which we visited earlier, and about all the reasons why Korea University is the better of the two. A little propaganda has never hurt anyone, right?

Next the university had arranged a guest lecture from Prof. Dr. Myoung-Jae Lee, an econometrics professor who has been affiliated with Tilburg University in the past. There was a small problem with the reservation of the lecture room, so we were told to wait in a different room until the original one became available. This was more than enough time for our very own doctor, Bas Dietzenbacher, to fire up the computer and surprise us with a brief introduction to his recently finished PhD research. After Bas wrapped up his presentation, we were told the room was ready and it was time for our, now second, guest lecture. Professor Lee spoke about difference in differences, a method used to isolate and measure treatment effects by studying the differential effects between a treatment group and a control group. During the lecture I noticed that various people were battling against sleep and were coming up with increasingly more creative ways to stay awake. Fortunately, the professor also noticed this and decided to skip the second hour of the lecture. He told us to follow his assistants to a nearby Chinese restaurant for lunch and, not knowing yet what we were up to, we agreed to join him later that afternoon for a hike over the old city wall. At the restaurant we were overloaded with different dishes, most of which were unclear to me what they exactly were. Even our very own Chinese expert, Wenxin, was not sure about the contents of the dishes.

With a full belly I decided to travel back to the hostel to freshen myself up before the hike. There was no real time to relax though, the professor was already ready for us and he was not keen on waiting. After everyone arrived at the agreed location, we immediately noticed a person’s height is not a direct indicator of their walking speed. Apparently, we were dealing with the Korean speedy Gonzales and it seemed like we were aiming for a record time to cover the track. About 50% of the group decided somewhere on the hike it was no use to try and keep up and turned around. I figured I could not be beaten by someone 2/3rd my height and thus stuck with the professor during the two-hour hike.

ibt1.2Group photo during the hike: On the bottom row Prof. Dr. Myoung-Jae Lee, wearing the green sweater.

Once we got down again, we thanked the professor for his time and went our own way. The eleven of us decided to have diner at a Thai restaurant where it was clear the dishes at this restaurant were meant for sharing. However, being the typical Dutchmen, we all ordered our own dishes and shared as little as possible. I ordered some noodles with shrimp and tried a sip of Guus’ ‘spicy’ noodles broth of which the flavor is best resembled by a full spoon of sambal. Luckily, I had some soju and Cass to cool my taste buds and an hour later we got back to the hostel. Here a big group was playing a drinking game called: ‘Vikingen’, which I can assure you looks, and especially sounds, very strange to anyone unfamiliar with the game. After a while they went out to the group’s favorite bar, Zen. I decided it was time to go to bed early since we had a rather physically demanding day ahead.