Inha University intern reflects on experiences at the Port

Each year, since 2009, the Port of Portland has hosted student interns from South Korea’s Inha University. Many of the student interns are interested in working for ports, airlines or in logistics. The student interns stay for five months and rotate through different departments at the Port. Intern Ellyn Lee recently spent a couple of weeks in our Community Affairs department and I asked her to share her impressions so far of living in Portland and working for the Port. Here’s what she had to say, in her own words:

It’s been more than two months since I arrived at this comparatively small city, after traveling more than 24 hours from my home in Korea. The journey made me realize the very big difference between the two countries, which was even larger than I expected. Portland is a perfect city to live in. It’s all green, the weather is gorgeous in the summer, there are hundreds of things to do such as hiking, camping, and fishing around this city, lots of local festivals are going on, and no sales tax! At first, it was surprising to me that some people have their own boat as I could never imagine anyone who tows a boat on a highway in Korea. But after I went to some ‘green places’ like Lost Lake by Mt. Hood, I realized it was not weird at all for people living in Oregon to have a boat or that kind of outdoor activity equipment.

The food is totally different from Korea. I remember on my first day of work when we had lunch with all our supervisors, I had no idea what to eat at the restaurant. I hadn’t had or even heard of such kinds of food back in Korea. I had to look at the menu carefully for a while so that I didn’t choose a food I might not want. It is interesting to me that Americans love Asian food like Japanese, Thai and Chinese. I generally like the foods here, but I will never get used to cilantro. This is not just my personal preference, but most other Koreans cannot eat or even smell it. I know that foreigners including Americans cannot eat some Korean food because of its strong scent, so I think it is a fair trade-off.

Working at the Port of Portland is such a big opportunity for me as a student studying logistics. I have rotated around to different departments and learned how each is operated.  I want to work for the airlines or an airport in a few years and every part of this experience is helpful to see how cargo and passengers go back and forth. I’m also getting some ideas about which department of the airport or airlines I would like to work in the future. I have had lots of tours of the airfield, concourses, marine terminals, and other Port properties during first several weeks. Other students in Korea might never have the chance to step on the airfield or climb on a crane. I also helped out at some events like Seaport Celebration and the Asiana Cargo First Year Celebration. These experiences have taught me how the Port works with the public and its customers. I’m having a wonderful time experiencing many new things that I can’t do back in Korea. I love this city, the people, and the Port of Portland. This five months will be a memory I will never forget.