University Life Update

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When we started at Namseoul University this spring we truly had no idea what to expect. It’s a new program and we didn’t know anyone who had attended before so we had a million questions:

  • What exactly would studying in Korea in an English language program look like? 
  • What kind of professors would there be?
  • Were we going to be cramming for exams like we see them doing in Korean high school?
  • What are the students going to be like?
  • How big were the classes going to be?
  • What would the workload be like?
  • Would we have regrets?
  • Would the material be relevant to our lives?
And the list just goes on from there. So many unknowns. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and we wondered if we would regret taking the chance on grad school outside of an educational system we were familiar with.

We are now 1/3 of the way through our first semester and we can honestly say that we love it. Every week we look forward to waking up on Saturday and going to class because the professors are interesting, the classes are relevant to our lives, and the other students are enjoyable to study with. We had no idea that we would actually enjoy graduate school. In truth, I think we both just thought it was something we would suffer through for two years like a weekly dental appointment. However, that’s not happened. We legit love studying at Namseoul and feel it’s value in our lives.

In addition to enjoying the classes, we have found its a program that is designed for the path we are following. Some of our educational/career goals are:

  • improve our connections and opportunities in the educational field.
  • improve our knowledge about international education programs and experiences.
  • enhance our teaching skills to be more useful in a variety of teaching environments.
  • gain experience working with an international workforce.
  • research educational theories and policies we are interested in.

Even this early in the program we see how our goals are being met. We are currently taking two classes (Assessment and Policy) and studying with students from South Africa, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. The insight has been invaluable. Discussions are VERY lively and often filled with plenty of laughter and insight. When we enrolled we hadn’t realized how much value this would add to our learning experience.

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Admittedly, at first, we had wondered how it would work studying in English with students who mostly speak English as a second language. Students who have never lived in an English speaking country. We thought it might not lend itself to graduate level study. Looking back, that was a foolish concern. Yes, there are times when things can be confusing and we struggle to understand something a classmate is trying to articulate. Turns out that’s not a problem, its a beneficial and important part of the program.

“Why is that?” you might ask. It’s because this is what our future (and current) workplaces will be like. It’s real life practice for our current AND future careers. This is what international teaching looks like. You have to know how to understand cultures from around the world with people that may not speak English as a first language. These are the exact conversations we need to be having about policy and assessment practices. It’s friggin educational gold.

Dealing with these communication and cultural issues force us to find better ways to express ourselves more efficiently and develop our communication skills. We can’t be lazy because the other people in the group don’t know our cultural views. We can assume they know what we mean, and we can’t assume their opinions either. What I’m trying to say is that the ESL issues we face with our classmates haven’t been a distraction from the program – they are a distinct benefit that we deeply value. They are why Harry and I keep saying to each other, “Thank goodness this was our choice.”

The professors are also a key part of what makes all this work. They are well educated and have plenty of experience working in international education. They understand the skills that we need to succeed. Funny enough though, our first two professors happen to be from the US. They teach in a very western style with lots of workshopping and question asking. Instead of lecturing they facilitate. We feel supported, encouraged, and pushed to internalize what we are studying. It will be interesting to see what classes will be like with different professors from other countries

At this point, we have found the workload to be exactly what we can manage while keeping up with our jobs. I’m a public school teacher and Harry works in a hagwon. When we aren’t working our week is full of reading, working on group projects, and writing papers. We aren’t pushed to our breaking point, but we certainly can’t afford to slack off either and we don’t have time for extra socializing.

So that’s where we are at this point in the program: confident about our choice, happy with our cohorts, challenged but not buried, enjoying our professors, excited about what we are studying, and looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

Since we aren’t very far into the program we still have questions about how it will all shake out. Will we love our future profs this much? What will the comprehensive exam be like next year? What will it be like to write our thesis in English in a foreign country? Will we have access to the articles and research support we need? So many things still bounce around in our minds but the support we have received so far from the GEI offices helps makes us feel confident it will all turn out ok.

Current Status: Extremely happy with our life choices.

If you would like to learn more about the Namseoul University Global Education Institute visit their website or follow them on Facebook.