SCOM’s newest study abroad program: Public Relations in Korea

By Sara Hardiman (Class of 2017)

JMU classes, particularly communication classes, are great.

But even the best of classes have their limitations.

That’s why a dozen Public Relations students in JMU’s School of Communication Studies packed their bags and went to South Korea last summer.

Sports and International public relations in Korea is one of the newest study abroad programs the School of Communication Studies offers.

SCOM and Soongsil University students are listening to public relations professionals at Weber Shandwick Korea.

During the three-week intensive program, students studied under the guidance of JMU professors Dr. Isaac Woo and Dr. Yeonsoo Kim, and world-class public relations firms and sports teams in Seoul, South Korea.

Woo believes the program offers students opportunities and experiences they won’t get with any other program,

“Seoul is very diverse, they have the Winter Olympics coming up so students were able to meet with some of the committees as well,” he said.

SCOM and Soongsil University students with Ms. Anna You, spokesperson for 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics at the ski jump waiting area

Studying abroad allows students to go out into the real world and experience places and opportunities they cannot get in the classroom, “context is important, studying abroad helps broaden a student’s knowledge of different contexts,” says Kim on why she believes it’s incredibly important for communication students in particular to study abroad.

Studying abroad has become a major part of the college experience.  Often times, students look into the various study abroad programs that universities offer before making any decisions on where they want to go.

The Korean study abroad program is special because students get the opportunity to practice what they have been studying in a country that is very different from the United States.  They are also given a unique opportunity to work the foreign spectrum of the career fields they could potentially find themselves in.

Studying abroad was never something that was emphasized or seen as important until recently.  With traveling costs being relatively inexpensive and a sudden interest in learning about other cultures, students are jumping at the bit to study abroad.

Here at JMU, students are provided with a plethora of opportunities to study abroad in places like England, Ireland, Costa Rica, and many other countries.  JMU has recognized the importance and draw of students to study abroad.

“I was drawn to this program because of the professors and the fact that it was relatively cheap compared to the other programs,” explains Erin Brown, a junior communication studies major on why she chose the South Korean program.

SCOM students and Dr. Kim wear Hanbok (Korean Traditional Clothing) at Changgyeongung Palace

According to both professors and students alike, the key to the success of this program was the openness of the students to try new things.  “Always be open-minded, take advantage of opportunities, and say yes to things you never thought you would say yes to,” Brown advises students contemplating studying abroad.

SCOM and Soongsil University students at employee rest area in Naver’s headquarter

Studying abroad can play a key role in students’ futures, not only does it expose them to cultures they normally would not experience, it helps them network in potential career fields.

“I got to meet with several different public relations committees, in particular I got to meet with PR practitioners for Naver (Korea’s top search engine company similar to Google) and the Olympics.  I also got experience that I don’t think I would have gotten without studying abroad,” says Brown on why she feels it is important for communications students in particular to study abroad while they can.

Would you use studying abroad to shape your college experience?