By Abigail Cloutier
Nearly a year after Youngstown State University graduate Emily Henline was accepted into the Fulbright Program, she touched down in Seoul, South Korea to begin her master’s program. Henline, who graduated in 2020, deferred her enrollment from fall 2020 until the spring 2021 semester because of travel restrictions.
“I was definitely sad, because I did want to start and not lose my language ability more than I had. As time goes on, you lose more from not using it,” she said. “But in the end … starting later was better. I’ll have a better college experience.”
Henline graduated with a dual degree in integrated language arts and English with an endorsement in teaching English to speakers of other languages. She’s planning on studying the effects of colonization on language in her master’s program in Korean studies at Yonsei University. Even though her program was delayed, Henline didn’t let those extra four months go to waste.
“I had an internship at the time, so, a fun thing was there was a Seoul International Book Fair. [OverDrive] does book selling and is trying to work with publishers. They were trying to get publishers in Korea. Some of them didn’t know English that well, so I got to talk to them in Korean and, like, use my skills a little bit through my internship. It was an interesting and fun way to keep up my skills,” she said.
After arriving in Seoul Feb. 8, Henline faced mandatory COVID-19 testing and was quarantined until Feb. 21.
“I had to download apps where every day during quarantine I had to state if I had symptoms or if I had a temperature. I just had to let them know every single day or they would come and be like ‘Hey, why aren’t you telling us your symptoms?’ They just want to make sure that we’re COVID free,” she said.
While quarantined, Henline had groceries delivered through apps and by friends she made when she studied abroad in Seoul in 2017. Though her classes don’t begin until March 2, she’s excited to explore the city and make connections.
“I did research for all professors for my Fulbright before I came, and one of the professors I did some research on — and I really want to learn from — is teaching two of my classes this semester,” Henline said. “I’m really hoping to make connections with him and try to get my thesis going.”
Though her graduate classes are online this semester, she plans to try to get an internship and network during the two-year program.
“I think ultimately, I will come back to the states to finally get a job after a master’s degree. Maybe once I get into my job a little more, I will try to get a Ph.D. We’ll see when the time comes for that, but those are my ambitions right now,” Henline said.
Henline is YSU’s first Fulbright Program semifinalist since 2016. The competitive process includes essays and faculty recommendations.
- (image of Emily holding a bag) YSU alumna and Fulbright scholar Emily Henline snaps a photo between rounds of COVID-19 testing after landing in Seoul, South Korea Feb. 5. Photo courtesy of Emily Henline
- (Emily posing with two girls) Fulbright Scholar Emily Henline (center) poses for a photo during her South Korea study abroad trip in 2017. Photo courtesy of Emily Henline