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School Of Communications

Seeking and Seizing Opportunities: Comms Student Shares Experiences from Experiential Learning Trip to Seoul

BYU Communications Student Lauren Waite Discusses Opportunities She Found During Experiential Learning Trip to South Korea

Lauren Waite and Aliza Nickles on the Subway in Seoul
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Waite

The day I walked into my supervisor’s office at the BYU BioComms Lab, I was not expecting to walk out with the opportunity of a lifetime. It was a cloudy day in December and my boss, Professor Kevin John from the communications studies program, told me about an upcoming experiential learning trip in South Korea. The group of students would be researching emerging media in the field of communications and he invited me to go.

My first reaction to his invitation was a sense of inadequacy. Though I was devoted to joining the comms studies program, I was only a pre-major student. I would be a freshman on a trip with upperclassmen who were already well-established within the program. I also was struck with disbelief at the fact that an opportunity that seemed tailor-made for me—an avid student of both communications and the Korean language—fell right into my lap.

Despite my original shock, I accepted the invitation and it was one of the best decisions I had made since coming to BYU. Every day, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences I had during the trip.

While in Korea, I was able to experience learning opportunities in every aspect of life. We visited museums, participated in cultural activities, including visiting a traditional Hanok village where we were encouraged to wear Hanbok, Korean traditional dress. We also went to the university Kevin John was working with and ate a lot of really yummy food. My favorite cultural experience was getting to sit down with everyone for a group dinner and discussing the differences in traditional Korean culture and “K-culture” that emerged after America’s Cold War involvement with South Korea. Being communications students gave us all a special outlook on the tensions between the traditionalism and Americanization of Korean culture.

Communications Studies Students Lauren Waite and Alyssa Banfield Wearing Hanbok (한복) in a Traditional Hanok (한옥) Village
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Waite

We also had many spiritual opportunities while there, including visiting the local ward that met next to the Seoul Temple. There was also a constant presence of God’s hand throughout the trip. For the past two years, I have been studying the Korean language and I was blessed with several opportunities to use what I learned and expand my vocabulary. Now that I have my mission call to the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission, I will be focusing on learning Portuguese for the next two years. However, I am beyond grateful that I had the chance to practice the language with native speakers before taking an extended break from studying. Another small miracle came through my roommate during the trip, Aliza Nickles, who had served her mission in Brazil and shared advice and stories from her mission, that I appreciate even more now that I know I will also be serving in Brazil.

BYU connects its students with so many wonderful learning opportunities, you just have to seek them out. I am so grateful for the opportunity that presented itself to me on that day in December. I believe that God put me in the right circumstances and I know He can provide similar experiences for other students who trust in Him.