During this past summer, I had an exciting trip to Tenerife and Gran Canaria of Canary Islands of Spain, where I went to see Candida Julia Rodriquez, an old Spanish friend of mine who was my classmate while I studied in University College London (UCL henceforth) in 1990-91. In Tenerife, I climbed the 3718m-high summit of Mount Teide, which has one of the first major international astronomical observatories. In Las Palmas of Grand Canaria, I was thrilled to visit Casa de Colon (Columbus House) where Christopher Columbus stayed and repaired his ships on his way to the East Indies crossing the Atlantic in 1492. Such stories about Christopher Columbus will be included in my class “A History of the English Language” this fall semester and in the “English Phonetics” class that contains listening material on the expedition next semester. It is great to have a foreign friend who has a different cultural background and who can discuss worldly things in different perspectives. Candida and I have kept our friendship for more than twenty-five years, exploring, wondering, and adapting ourselves to each other's cultures, viewpoints and life styles.
Obtaining life-long friends in one of the world's most esteemed universities is one of the greatest merits of studying abroad. With such an opportunity, you expose your views to broader horizons by comparing your views with those from other cultures. Through such an encounter, you may get to know more about the world and develop a well-balanced perspective for dealing with problems arising later in your occupation, whatever that may be. In particular, you can become a civilized person by keeping a good human relationship and helping each other and taking care of each other whenever and wherever such help may be needed. For instance, I occasionally made extra lessons for my friend Candida after school when she did not clearly comprehend the contents of the class we attended together, and I shared my notebooks with her when preparing together for qualifying examinations.
Along with an opportunity for meeting new friends, you will be able to meet world-eminent scholars or world-leading minds in such a university. In every academic field, whatever your major may be, you will be able to learn from notable faculty members and you will be able to have a chance to be members of world leading groups. I was lucky to have had such opportunities to study under Professor John C. Wells who is the author of Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, and Professor John Harris, my PhD adviser during 1993-1998, who is one of world-leading scholars in phonological theory, phonetics-phonology interface, phonological disorders, and variation and change in English. Fortunately, under Professor John Harris’s supervision, I made annual reports of my research on Middle English Morphology for five years as a PhD student. For these efforts, I was awarded the honor of "Research Professor of the year 1998” at Gachon University.
Moreover, becoming a member of an alumni which includes notable people who have studied in the same campus in the same tradition will be another merit of studying abroad. Thus, I can count as members of my UCL alumni such august luminaries as Mahatma Gandhi, a prominent political leader of India; Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone; John Ambrose Fleming, father of modern electronics; Junichiro Koizumi, former Prime Minister of Japan, and Christopher Nolan, a writer and film producer of “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar”, among others. How lucky and proud I am!
UCL was founded in 1836. Later they established many more colleges in London, and all of them are included in an administrative organization; Senate house, University of London. So UCL is officially called University College, University of London. UCL is ranked among the “Top Five” in the latest QS World University Rankings (www.topuniversities.com) for 2014/15. It follows MIT (Overall score 100: rank 1), Cambridge University (99.4: #2), Imperial College London (99.4: #3), Harvard University (99.3: #4), and Oxford University (99.2: #5) which is co-ranked 5th with UCL. Becoming an alumni member of such a university gives you life-long pride and a status that you could not obtain otherwise.
When I studied in London, I tried not to waste time. This was an extraordinary chance for making my dream, which I had had from early childhood, come true. I remember that I gave up taking a stroll on Warren Street, which is in the center of London next to my UCL classes, on my way home in Finchley Central, reminding myself that my objective for coming to London was to complete my studies as quickly as possible and therefore taking strolls would delay the objective to that extent. Later after my qualifying examinations, I could do many things with my friends to create good memories of Great Britain as well as London.
If you are interested in UCL, you will be able to find a great deal of information about it in the web site ‘www.ucl.ac.uk’. Aim high and concentrate on what you are aiming for, then you will find that the maxim: “Where there is a will, there is a way“, is true.
By Choong-Yon Park
Professor, Department of English Language and Literature< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >