Los Angeles, nicknamed “the city of Angels” is where I found myself during my PhD education process. With almost 4 million people in the city it was a melting pot of cultural diversity. Throughout all my travels abroad have I been to a lot of places but LA is where there was so much culture at every turn. From Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Little Saigon, Thai town, Filipino town, Little Bangladesh, if there is a culture then there is a little town. LA is a very interesting and great city and that is the place I called home for the next few years.
So my school of choice was UCLA, University of California Los Angeles which is located in Westwood, CA on the west side of Los Angeles. It is close to Santa Monica beach (about 15 min drive by car) the weather here was always nice and cool. What I first noticed about UCLA was how nice the summer weather was. I know why people always considered Socal to have the best weather in the world. I remember my first winter in UCLA and wondered when was it ever going to get cold. The answer was never. The weather here was very consistent and always nice. That is one thing I miss about UCLA.
Now, school life was very fun. The campus is very big with a few hills here and there. I remember the first time seeing the Bruin Bear. I didn’t know why there was a huge golden bear in the middle of campus then found out that it is the mascot. The athletics of UCLA is one of the finest especially in basketball and football. There is an ongoing rivalry against USC. The football games are where a lot of people have the most attention. They also play little pranks against each other before their yearly football match where they do stuff to each other’s mascot for fun. They would tarp up the bear and stand watch over the bear for the whole week so that nothing happens to it and say that the bear is in hibernation.
I remember going to Powell Library and studying with all the other students. During finals week it is so full of students you would think the school is in session. It isn’t a wonder that students who graduate UCLA are so recognized. The competition is great and the students strive for greatness. As a TA doing my PhD I taught various classes and can tell you how dedicated these students are in academics, even though I was one of the students studying for my graduate classes day and night without much sleep. And the fact that everyone is doing the same thing, that is studying, helps drive you more to not fall behind and just follow everyone to get that good grade.
I look back at now at a lot of things about my PhD education and I remember that it was hard, since English is not my native language, but with a lot of work and good peers at my side I was able to cope with all the struggles while enjoying the student life at UCLA. I do miss UCLA and Los Angeles as a whole, it was the experience of a lifetime to be able to get my PhD there. Very different than my life here in Korea and I have the great memories that will last me a lifetime.
By Lee, Jee won
Professor, The Department of Orient Language&Literature< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >