The Catholic University of America (CUA/www.cua.edu) and the George Washington University (GWU/www.gwu.edu) are the two private universities in Washington D.C. where I spent my college years.
I spent my freshman and sophomore years at CUA. It was my first choice because of the beautiful campus and its nationally renowned Social Work Program. Since I was a girl who wanted to help all “human beings,” it was an obvious choice among many other fine universities in the DC area. Due to CUA’s religious background, I was required to take courses like philosophy, anthropology, and New Testament; Readings for those classes were difficult even for native English speakers so I do not have to say how difficult and frustrating it was for a foreign student like myself.
I endured only one semester of the Social Work Program, realizing that I was not a wingless angel but just an average human-being, and changed my major to English literature. But I sometimes wonder what my life would have been had I finished my undergraduate degree in Social Work.
On the CUA campus, I had a tree named after my favorite book, “My Orange Lemon Plant”; I used to read and write a lot of poems and enjoyed drawing the warm, sunny, leafy and snowy seasons of Washington D.C. under “ChungAh’s Orange Lemon Plant”.
Even though I loved and enjoyed my life at CUA, I decided to transfer to the GWU so that I could work part-time hoping to help a little bit with the very expensive tuition. I worked as an assistant to one of the professors who later became my graduate program’s advisor and good friend. Drafting memos and letters and coordinating meetings were a large part of the job. Also, since the professor was in charge of the international scholar/student exchange program at the Graduate School of Education at GWU, I had opportunities to meet and get to know many international students and scholars. Helping them to transition and adjust to the school as well as their new life in the States also was part of the job. I think my experience working at the International Office influenced me greatly on my appreciation and interests of diverse people and different cultures. Even today, I work well with people of different age groups and from culturally diverse backgrounds.
As for my studies, I remember borrowing an old-new English dictionary, old-new versions of English literature and carrying a very thick Korean-English dictionary because there was no such thing as Naver or Google back then. One assignment I still remember was to write a 3 page essay after reading a half page of poem. Most of my class assignments were reading and writing novels, plays, and poems so my friends usually found me on a couch at the school library; yet it is too bad that I could not memorize any famous line from these great literatures.
I took a drum class in my last semester. While one semester was hardly enough time for me to master it, I learned to read music notes for playing the drums.
As I shared with you earlier, I started with a major in Social Work and changed to English Literature after one semester. Also, I started at a conservative, traditional, and religious college with a beautiful campus and transferred to a liberal, modern and multi-cultural college at the center of a downtown. Studying in a foreign country away from my family and friends was by no means an easy task. My grades thus were less than perfect.
However, I am content and proud of my college days. I am willing to share all my memories of those days. Why? Because I lived fully and enjoyed fully. I studied and tried hard. Regardless of my less-than-perfect-English, I did not hesitate to visit professors’ offices when I could not understand something that was discussed in the class or when I had comments or questions while I was studying for classes. At the same time, I always managed to find excuses to reward myself for hard work and for enduring the lonely and difficult life in a foreign country.
What is it that I am trying to tell the readers? Please do not be in a rush. You are the “Homo Hundred” generation! I understand that sometimes you feel like wasting your time because you are taking a wrong course, majoring in a wrong program, or receive bad grades. But I can promise you that your time and effort will be paid off if you have good intentions and try your best-just not right away. Sometimes it will come later in your life but it is well worth the wait. So be patient and be healthy and enjoy what life has to offer until then!
-ChungAh Kim, Department of Tourism Management< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >