Posted by: scottishboomerang | July 29, 2007

Returning to Korea.


Handong Campus from inside the building.HILS from a distance.The HILS Moot Court Room/Chapel


My university regulations would have allowed me to sit the common exams, submit and defend my thesis from abroad, and given hw very very sick of Korean dormitory life I was when I left Korea last winter, it’s perhaps a surprise to a few that I came back to PoHang. But for now I’m back, to the surprise of a lot of my fellow HILS students, who look at me as though they’d seen a ghost. I arrived back on campus to the erie feeling that nothing much there had changed.


I hadn’t told too many about my Colombian internship for the Spring semester, and now a fresh batch of newbies were in the natural capriciousness of the student body would have turned to other, more satisfying wells of gossip than the British chick who said what she thought and hated dorm life (to the some, that translated as “hate community life” or “ hate the university”, unable as it is to see subtly of feeling: things are way to complicated for such black and white descriptions).


The law school is truly excellent at getting students through the US Bar exam, and students at HILS get much more one-to-one contact with professors than in a Law School in the States (or even in Britain), and generally, the quality of the teaching is first rate, however, the Masters programme is embryonic and clearly of secondary importance in the law school: their focus is the Juris Doctor programme; their primary aim is to get the JD candidates through that Bar exam. Given the lack of contact on the part of HILS during my internship in Latin America, I have very little confidence that my thesis is something which HILS could properly supervise from abroad (though its theoretically possible, had I not maintained contact last semester and were somewhat reticent in responding to emails. I decided there was nothing like physical presence to get what I need – that is, proper supervision. I feel it will be quite a while before HILS could offer any kind of extramural academic programme, though of course, its early days – the law school is after all only five years old.


That is my primary reason for returning to PoHang for the last semester. I have others too. Mr Boomerang, my special Canadian, is still here going through that nigh-universal experience of foreign ESL teachers, mediation with his former employers via the Korean Labour Board, and as a result we can spend some time together before the new semester begins and he returns to Canada (hopefully with the back pay his employers owe him in hand). Being together again is a definite plus, as I missed him rather too much while in Colombia. Korea is one of the few places where I am able to teach for a proper professional wage while studying, and, now, the added bonus of having my housing provided. Having spent last summer in the sweltering, mosquito infested dorms of Handong, (the student housing being primitive even by Korean standards), having my own place (with a fridge and air-con) is truly a gift from God.

So basically I am back until further notice, which will give me a little time to write about my experiences as a postgraduate academic here in Korea: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It looks as if, for the first time in my life, I will actually be present at my own graduation, and will not graduate by post, though I doubt if my family will be able to attend.


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