2022 Summer Student Exchange Program Experience

Louise Gutter (ANEPF, France)

Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology


I applied on the IPSF website in November, without a lot of hopes because of 2 years of Covid, to the Tourist program. And, indeed, I wasn’t chosen for the tourist program. Just before planning my summer holidays, in April 2022, I sent a last message to the KNAPS SEO YoungEun to confirm that there weren’t any places left for me. She told me about some opportunity in the research program, so I took it immediately. I couldn’t believe it at first, but I was going to South Korea !!


I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare everything, so I was quite nervous, and I was trying to not bother everyone with all my worries and questions. It was my first trip all by myself so I guess it didn’t help me to relax…


I was welcomed at the airport by JiEun, who was the kindest person, she helped me with everything, and we went directly to the restaurant to meet all the other international students in SEP like me, and the KNAPS staff. Everyone was so sweet, and I was overwhelmed with happiness, fatigue (from the trip, the excitement, the jetlag), and language confusion. 😉


The day after arriving, I was already in the lab! I was worried, because in France, we need to have a signing convention that attests the presence of the student in the laboratory, even for an observational internship, but I didn’t know that it wasn’t necessary there, so I went to the lab without knowing what to expect! But the lab team was soooo welcoming, I had great moments with them. Each day, I was with a new lab member, who presented their research project (the lab theme was neurodegenerative diseases), and I help them on their manipulations, if I could help. It was a rotation observational internship, I had a schedule, with each day a new person to help, with a new project (even though the theme was usually the same).

Lab Schedule

I started at 10AM, with a lunch at noon with 5 or 6 colleagues, and depending on the lab member I was with, or the manipulations they had to do, I could leave at 3PM or at 6PM. They were very welcoming, and they did their best to speak English each time I was around. I’ve never felt isolated.


Each week, we had a session with all the lab members (28 persons) and the professor, to discuss the advancements on each project. So, for one hour, 5 lab members presented their new results in English. 


Another session during the week was dedicated to article presentation; in English, 2 lab members presented one article related to their research project.

Sometimes, we would go altogether to the restaurant, at lunch or at dinner, and I felt so included to the team! One of the lab members became a PhD so he invited me to take pictures with his friends in the whole outfit!

Lunch with lab members
With a new PhD graduate

When my day at the lab was over, I went to Seoul, to join with the KNAPS members, and the international students. Every two days, we had some activities to do, and it was so nice to visit Seoul and eat Korean food with the Korean students, to entirely enjoy! They showed us so different places, we ate so many succulent things, we were amazed every time, and never got bored! During weekends, if, there wasn’t any schedules we would hang out with the international students. 

With other SEP incoming students

I met fascinating people, and I feel so much gratitude for all the KNAPS team members, I don’t have the words to express it. I lived my dream in South Korea thanks to them, and they can’t wait to see them again!! I even celebrated my birthday in Korea, on the last day of lab, and colleagues and friends, and that was incredible!

My birthday cake with my name in Korean
Birthday dinner

It was the experience of a lifetime, and now that I came back to France, there isn’t a single day that pass without a thought to this amazing journey. 

Thank you very much Korea, thank you very much KNAPS members, Thank you very much to all my friends ~ 감사합니다 <3

Big love <3


Naksan park
With other SEP incoming students