This evening, we had a special dinner for my son in law. He has worked very hard! It was a congratulatory dinner, and it was his dad’s idea. He just completed his masters, and he will be graduating in February.
In Korea, it is not quite the same as receiving a masters in America. Actually, every masters in America is slightly different. The university I attended didn’t ask me to write a thesis, but they gave me a test. I had a committee of professors, and they could ask me anything they wanted from the field of English, and I had to answer on the spot. Since it was an English masters, they said the test must be written to make sure that I could write everything correctly on the page. They sat me at a desk in the middle of a busy hallway and gave me three questions, and I had to sit there and write a paper about each one off the top of my head. I studied for a whole semester without taking any classes just trying to make sure I knew everything I needed to know to pass that test, and when I answered those questions, I used must more than what I studied in that semester. One of the questions was actually for me to outline all the dates, authors, and major philosophies for American literature from the beginning to the end. Somehow, I remembered them all. The other questions were just as challenging. Even though I answered all the questions to the best of my ability, until they told me that they accepted my test answers, I wasn’t sure I was smart enough to receive a masters. Some people have to take the test several times before they pass it, but I passed it the first time.
All the people I know who have received a masters in Korea have done it slightly different than how I did mine in the States. There was no test. For all of them, it has been a thesis. Each one basically had to write a book. They also have a committee of professors like I did. Their professors pick their thesis apart. My son in law thought he was done at one point and was happy with what he wrote, but the first professor he visited told him that what he wrote wasn’t true, but I know what he wrote was true because I know what he wrote. The professor didn’t accept it and made him change his topic. If you have traveled, you know culture shock exists, and that professor told him culture shock didn’t exist.
He was so discouraged, I was afraid he was going to give up. Months went by at a time when he didn’t do anything on his thesis, and I worried. I helped another friend on his masters thesis, and he stayed out a whole year not working on his masters because he was so discouraged. The professors in charge of their masters committees get really harsh with them. Another masters student was sent to me because he was a foreign student, and in his country, women are considered not to have any brains, and they are not allowed to talk with men in the room, even their husbands. This attitude was reflected in his masters, and the Korean professor decided not to accept his thesis and to send him to me to help him. I am sure he was sent to me because I am a woman professor, and the professor was trying to prove to him that women do have brains. I have worked with several masters students, but it was always in English. Unfortunately, my son in law was doing all his in Korean with just a synopsis in English. I really couldn’t help him, and I was sorry because I had helped so many other students. He had to struggle alone and deal with those professors picking his thesis apart.
He finally finished a thesis that all the professors on his committee accepted. He wrote about Korean policies toward foreigners, and he traced the history comparing it to present day policies and made recommendations on how to make those policies and laws better. He struggled hard, but he finally made it!
This evening, his dad wanted to celebrate, so he took us all out to eat. My son in law presented his dad with a copy of his thesis, and his dad was so proud! His dad is a university professor, and he has groomed his son wanting him to follow in his footsteps. My son in law is considered the smart one in the family. His mother didn’t come, and I am sure part of it is that she thinks all the education is useless, but his dad has the complete opposite conception.
Regardless of what country we study in or which university we choose, getting a masters is not an easy thing. It is a big accomplishment, and my son in law has done it! As his father was reading his masters thesis, he said with thinking like that, he thought his son should work for the United Nations, but the United Nations is located in New York City. My son in law doesn’t want to live in New York City. He has been talking about living in Oklahoma, so his dad told him he needs to become a cowboy.