What strikes me most about the University of Maryland at College Park, located a little off from Washington, D. C., is that it is a quiet, academic school. It has many beautiful white buildings and spacious green fields around campus, which were always crowded with squirrels: an uninvited, but pleasant guest for the lonely, tired heart of a non-native, graduate student there. After some years at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for my masters degree, which is famous for its long winter and snow, it was a kind of relief to start my doctoral program at UM at College Park. It is kind of a big city near the US's capital, where my sister and brother also stayed for their Ph.D degrees.
UM at College Park, looking back, is generally one of the best universities to study at, especially for foreigners, because the faculty and staff are generally nice and the tuition is relatively low, and most of all, its location is marvelously in between the capital and Virginia. I still remember the times when I used to visit museums like the Smithsonian, the Natural History Museum, the Aerospace Museum, and especially, Inner-Harbor in Virginia, which was painfully beautiful at dusk and night. Moreover, Maryland has four seasons like Korea, its prices are generally fine, compared to those of other U.S. cities. There you can study, enjoy urban and pastoral life at the same time and, if you like, you can go anywhere, whether it be a library, a shopping center, a natural park, an ethnic restaurant, a museum, almost everything is out there, I would say.
Especially, the English Department where I studied is always remembered for the most generous (if not academically), liberal and most importantly, humane atmosphere I have ever had in my life. Some professors there were more like religious practitioners than scholars in their deep understanding and love of humanity. My graduate advisor, Dr. Howard, was always willing to devote his precious time to encouraging and stimulating me academically, when I was having hard times with the language barrier and cultural differences. But for my mentors, I do not think I could have finished my degree, so challenging and time-consuming a job for a non-native English speaker. My dream at Gachon is to become a teacher like them, who were always ready to sympathize with students and who always tried to pull out the best in students, the best potential in students heading for the better life and the better world.
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-Haeryung Yoon, From the Department of English Language & Literature