To come, or not to come?
Two years ago at this time, I was working full time in Japan. I was already determined that I would apply for the program at the University of Minnesota ("U of M," or "the U" as we call.) It wasn't necessarily an easy decision for me at the beginning of my career search, but now I am happy to say this loud:
"It was definitely the best choice that I have made!"
So just in case you are still wondering about your options, let me share my thoughts on my journey.
The beginning of my journey goes back to some years ago. I was considering a higher degree in my professional field, and I started to think about a distance learning course at one of the U.S. institutions initially. This was because of the job that I wanted to stay with, and also due to my family situation. The program I had in my mind had a good reputation, too. It seemed perfect that I could develop my expertise while remaining in the job and doing the distance learning course at the same time.
Well, as you can see, I ended up not going for that option. Realizing that distance learning was not for me, I waited until I was mentally ready to apply for the U, and have finally made my way here.
Academic work cannot be done alone. The presence of faculty, mentors, peers, and friends, and the campus resources make such a difference to my progress. Writing papers, or doing the readings can be challenging, but it is always nice that somebody or something is there to keep myself moving on. If I had done the distance learning course, I feel like I would have never been able to complete it. It must have been a lonely journey, when the study is already hard enough! Also, the quality of my study and life experience is different (and definitely rich) because of all the interactions and resources available on campus.
There are so many things that you can gain and learn in addition to your own field of study. Why U of M then? Check it out in my next entry!