Looking back on our lives, everybody has their happiest and worst memories. For most people, those two must exist separately. When I look back on my days in the U.S., however, the memory of how hard it was overlaps that of how desperately I tried to make myself happy.
Having a comparatively well-off childhood, I spent my college years in Korea without much difficulty, just going back and forth between school and church. I had vaguely dreamt of studying abroad while I was working overseas, but had not even expected I would abruptly go to the U.S. to pursue my degree much earlier than I planned.
When I think about my days of studying in the U.S., the first thing that occurs to me is my study group members. Even before the semester began in September, I had suffered from a dust allergy while I was studying at the library of Law School in the University of Wisconsin. The symptom was not that severe when I was in Korea, but the completely carpeted American buildings worsened my allergy to the degree that I had teary eyes and a runny nose all day long from the moment that I opened my eyes in the morning until when I fell asleep. Andrea, one of the members of my study group who became my friend as well, later told me that she believed I cried for homesickness. That was why she talked to me first to become friends and suggested that we study together in the study group.
It was easy to join a white students’ study group, but to survive was not easy. Being the top students in the class of 250 students, the members were not lenient with an Asian female student like me. Renee, who explicitly opposed my joining the group, seemed to want me to voluntarily give up as she kept indicating that I lowered the quality level of the group and I did not reach up to the level as I didn’t even read Latin.
The other four were also cold-hearted. They gave me an assignment every day, saying that Renee was not wrong and I really needed to make up for my shortcomings but I would be fine as long as I made it. So I had to do my homework from my friends intending to make me smarter, though it was hard enough for me to do my coursework. Being expelled from the group felt seriously dishonorable, so I spent a year doing all the homework till every early morning. I kept collapsing on the street due to numerous symptoms that doctors could not even diagnose. However I appreciated the members, feeling that if it had not been for them I would have been frustrated with other matters and wanted to go back to Korea. Working together for two years we six had never eaten together. They always say that being members of a study group means studying together, so if I want to have a good time I can do whatever I want to do with a pal outside the group. It felt so cold then, but now I am truly grateful. Those days in the U.S. made me a better, mature person. Even though I do not wish to go back, I still miss those days. I truly appreciate my friends who helped me grow.
Gachonians remind me of my younger self, before experiencing the U.S., and I believe they are wonderful people who can grow much more as I did. I want to help them become better people who believe in themselves. They say learning is a benevolent process in which we can understand and be understood. I hope we all can build respect and trust for each other by way of intellectual communication.
-Park, Seonuk (Department of Law)
< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >