When I started my MLIS last year, I knew that there were opportunities to study abroad in graduate school, and because I studied abroad in Barcelona as undergraduate, I was eager to travel abroad again on someone else’s dime (at least until I pay back my student loans). When an email from Simmons College SLIS came over the DLIS listserv last winter about their summer course in Seoul, Korea at Yonsei University, I was sold. Even better, the study abroad course was on Management and Leadership, so I was able to count it toward LIS 240.
After a short application and essay submitted to Simmons’ Study Abroad Office, I learned that I had been accepted to the program! Between applying for the trip and leaving for Korea, there was a lot of preparation. I skyped into pre-departure meetings at Simmons, filed various paperwork, and did online coursework via Simmon’s online course module, Moodle. While the trip itself was held over two weeks in late July and early August, the course began at the end of June and finished in late September. The format was a little unusual, but it allowed us to have plenty of free time to explore Seoul, instead of being stuck in the library writing papers.
The group I went with consisted of 11 women: 9 from Simmons, one from Kent State, and myself. With our professor, Dr. Lisa Hussey, we rounded out the dozen. We were housed in the dorms at Yonsei University, a prestigious institution of higher education in Korea, and our in-person class meetings were held at their iSchool. We went on group tours of the National Library of Korea, Korean Film Archive, and the Samsung Library at Yonsei, where we were always warmly welcomed by our hosts, and ate several meals together. Fortunately, as the trip went on, we were able to break up into smaller groups and explore on our own. I’m not going to lie–a lot of the trip reminded me of Girl Scout camp due to the size of the group and pre-existing friendships, so I was glad to get away and shop on my own!
I could go on and on about my impressions of Seoul, so you will just have to take my word on it that Seoul is a very cool city, especially for a future librarian. I’m already thinking about technology and its uses in my own research and future practice, so being in a city where everything is managed by technology was refreshing and inspirational. The subway tracks are protected by glass sliding doors that only open when the train arrives, so no one can fall in, and their transit cards are accepted in taxis as well. Imagine being able to pay for your cab with your Metrocard! So cool.
I strongly encourage everyone to consider studying abroad, especially as a DLIS student. I was able to network with American and Korean librarians, consider cross-cultural differences in information management, and even developed a research poster based on my trip for the ACRL/NY Symposium. While the Seoul trip with Simmons was a lot of fun and I met many awesome people, I would definitely encourage other students to apply for Dr. Lee’s trip to Kingston, Jamaica in Summer 2017. Start planning now, folks!