Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I cannot fix on the decision which laid the foundation, so I think it would be more accurate to say that continuously deciding to learn more, think more, and research more has led me to a PhD program.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC has a strong reputation for Asian Studies within Canada and it was that, along with the Asian Library, which first garnered my interest. I also heard how beautiful the campus is from many people.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Within Canada, U of T and UBC have the largest departments of (East) Asian Studies which include Korean studies. I was attracted to the program at UBC because the focus on Korean Studies in the department leans more towards my time period than does the program at U of T. The many opportunities for researching in Korea and Japan, the relative proximity to Asia, and the extensive Asian Library were also contributing factors.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I have never seen a university campus where nature has done more, or where natural beauty has been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. Every turn brings views of the mountains and sea or takes you through a verdant wood, and every season brings an abundance of bright colours. Even walking between classes, I feel so refreshed by the natural beauty of UBC.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I have very much enjoyed taking classes in a variety of departments since that has broadened my ideas and introduced me to many other students and topics. That being said, I am looking forward to focusing on my own research after comps.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
To speak with perfect candour, my biggest challenge will be finding a job since I hope to become a professor at a university.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
My program is doing the best it can to make sure that I will be competitive on the job market by having a higher coursework requirement than is generally common for humanities departments in Canada and by supporting my applications for scholarships and educational opportunities.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Being able to read in another language is central to my program and research project, so my best preparation were the years that I spent learning Korean prior to entering my program.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
One of my favourite activities for a sunny day is taking extensive walks around Kitsilano and Point Grey. The parks and residential neighbourhoods are beautiful to walk through and both 4th and West Broadway are lined with interesting restaurants and stores. Walking around these neighbourhoods is very beneficial exercise and allows me to leave campus, which I rarely have time for on the weekdays.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Pursuing a graduate degree is a taxing endeavour. My first advice to new graduate students is to not be afraid to admit when you do not understand something. Not understanding something does not mean that you are unqualified for your program or that you are lacking compared to other students who seem to understand. We are here to learn, and admitting when you do not understand something and seeking to rectify the situation through your own research or through asking others, is a valuable channel for learning. My second piece of advice is to develop mutually supportive relationships with other people. Sometimes these may take the form of classmates with whom you discuss coursework or scholarly opportunities. At other times, these take the form of friends with whom you can pursue non-school related activities.