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WVU College of Media students take study abroad trip to Asia

With more than 15,000 miles traveled in just two weeks, College of Media and John Chambers College of Business and Economics students immersed themselves in the cultures, media industries and technologies of Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea.

The 14-day trip, led by Associate Professor Sammy Lee and Teaching Assistant Professor David Smith, focused on individual content-creation specific to students’ interests while exploring their future career fields throughout different parts of the world.

“Asian cultures are very different from Western’s in many respects. Study abroad is a lot more flexible, compared to student exchange programs, which last six months or one year,” said Lee. “For study abroad, students can participate in the design of the program and the program can change during the trip, depending upon the situation or needs.”

Japan Trip

In the weeks leading up to departure, eight undergraduate students – four journalism, two strategic communications and two marketing majors – planned the trip’s full itinerary, researched the differences between American, Japanese and South Korean media and made plans for photography, videography or print-based projects.

In Tokyo, the team visited historical monuments, religious shrines and ongoing festivals, working one-on-one with the faculty leads to develop their final projects and experience the shopping, food and lifestyles of the city.

“Although I am not a media student, I was able to incorporate what I learned and experienced through the trip into the business class I was taking,” junior marketing major Amanda Womack said. “It was a social media in marketing course, and I used this trip as the theme for my work.”  

The journalism students split off to visit Waseda University, the lone Japanese institution that offers a master’s degree in journalism, and The Waseda Chronicle, a groundbreaking investigative, online news outlet dedicated to press freedom – similar to WVU’s 100 Days in Appalachia.

“I’m drawn to leading study abroad trips that allow students to experience new, unfamiliar things and take them out of their comfort zones. Each student brings completely different life experiences to the trip,” Smith said. “Cultural immersion takes students out of the rigidly-structured academic setting and requires them to make decisions and build relationships that they might not in a classroom.”

Skyline of Japan

Adventures continued in Seoul as the team took excursions to traditional Korean markets and villages, historical museums, Lotte World theme park, Arirang TV and the demilitarized border between North and South Korea.

“I thought it was so intriguing to see the difference between the two nations,” College of Media student Gillian Wanosky wrote as part of her final project. “The visit gave me a brief history of the Korean War, how it divided families, and how it created two drastically different forms of leadership.

“My travels created a new image of Korea for me, and it developed an interest that I would love to pursue as a journalist in the future,” Wanosky said.

To see more of the group’s trip and hear from more students involved, watch this travel vlog created by journalism major Maura Flynn.