I moved from Korea to Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada in 2003 with my husband and two children. It was a challenging and extremely difficult time for us because of all the changes that we experienced. I started an engineering program in the fall of 2004, when I was forty years old. The decision to do engineering was a second thought, as my first interest had been medicine. However, I persevered because I like learning new things and engineering gave me the chance to do so. The first year of the study was the most difficult of all. I was in a foreign country, and I had not yet known many things about it. Coupled with this was the fact that I had to take care of my family, and we had to get used to the culture and society. I had to support the boys alone, without their father’s support. As a parent, I was concerned about my two boys, and I wanted to give them the best that I could. I wanted them to have a proper education, develop strong friendships and enjoy different activities.
The biggest culture shock I received was in school, and my time in school was the most difficult. I did not know anything about the school system. Even though the information was there, I had not realized it because I did not know where to look. I was not aware of the methods used to evaluate the students, and other things such as deferral exams, voluntary withdrawal, plagiarism, and appeals among others. I did not have any information concerning the exam dates, and, therefore, failed to prepare for the exams. In class, some of the lecturers were non-native speakers, and I did not understand what they were saying. Other instructors were not qualified and they did not have a clear understanding of the subject. They failed to explain the content of what they taught in a way that the students would understand. This affected my grades significantly.
I did not know how the library system worked, and I did not get the books I wanted on time. The library did not have some of the books I needed for the class, as the school, failed to order the textbooks. One of the biggest shocks I received was when I got a D in computer science due to plagiarism in the winter term of the first year. I did not know much about it, but I believed that I was not guilty of it. I believed that I had done my work well and that I had gotten all the materials from the knowledge I had. I did not know what to do about the score, or who to talk to about it. The fail in computer science discouraged me so much.
The second year in school was not easy as I had relationship problems with my husband and other students. My husband and I were technically separated, and I moved out with my two sons. I ended up losing focus on my studies because of all the problems I was experiencing. I lost my motivation for learning because of all the things that I was going through. I took a break from school after my second year. I needed to find a job to support my sons, and I got a full time job. However, I could not see my future in that job, and I quit and went back to school. I was not yet used to the other students in school. They attacked me verbally, in addition to using inappropriate gestures, which were directed at me. To make matters worse some of the instructors behaved liked the students, and they used to attack me too. I felt lonely and alienated because of this. I felt as if the whole school community was against me. Some of the things they did were so embarrassing and humiliating for me to bear. At one time, the class I was in, even tried to block the entrance so that I could not enter. They locked the door, and they even attacked me physically. This was hard for me to bear, and I even tried quitting school because of it. However, I could not bring myself to quit because I cared for my children’s future.
My social life was not good either. I remember one incident where a radio presenter and a couple of other people tried to deceive me. They accused me of doing something wrong, and they did not have any evidence. Fortunately, I figured out in time that they were trying to mislead me, and I did not fall into their trap. I started feeling sleepy all the time, and I could not stay awake for long, even during the exam time. I had developed a system of cramming everything some days to the exam, but I was not able to do this because I was always sleepy. I had used this habit before, and I found it effective. Looking back, I suspect that I had been drugged even though I did not realize it at the time.
My financial problems became worse. I was having a hard time juggling schoolwork, a job and family. I could not support my family well, and this affected my school performance. At one time, I got an F in one of the courses. I could not understand how this had happened because I had done all the lab work well, and it was a surprise when I failed the course. Most of my grades had been lower than I expected. I did not appeal, to have the grades revised, and I wanted to finish the program quickly. At this time, I had lacked motivation, and I was not concerned about the grade I would get. I continued facing challenges in school, and at one time, I received an email from an instructor with wrong test information. Despite all the things I had to endure during the term, I managed to graduate. After graduation, I tried hard to get a job, but it was difficult.
I had a lot of free time after I graduated, and I began reading some medical books and articles on the web. I was fascinated by the human body and how it functions. I read about how the body responds to different situations and how the mental and physical capacities affect each other. Acquiring this knowledge was important to me, because I believe that I had already experienced most of the things that I was reading about. I finally decided to study a medical program. I went back to school so that I could prepare all the things I needed for the program. I took prerequisite courses to help me in the preparation. I worked hard to pass the courses, since I wanted to excel in them. However, I was not familiar with the multiple-choice format, and I did not get the grades that I wanted, although I did pass. I had worked hard so that I could get an A+ and not just a pass. Instead, I ended up getting grades A and B. this came as a surprise to me, knowing the amount of work I had put in my studies. I asked to see my exam papers, and interestingly, the instructor suggested that I appeal. The school suggests that one should view the paper before the appeal process. I did not get the complete information concerning the appeal, and I missed the appeal date.
I have faced many challenges during my time in school. Some of the situations I experienced were bad enough to cause a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, this did not happen because I realized that I had to be strong for my own sake and for the sake of my children. I have now stayed in Canada for a while, and I have known many things. I have learnt about the culture gradually, I now understand many people, and why they behave and act as they do. I have developed an internal defense system to protect myself. The more challenges I face the stronger I become. Despite my lower GPA in my bachelor degree, I still believe that I can study my medical program. I am now divorced and my children live on their own. This has given me more spare time, and I am able to study well. I can concentrate on my studies, since I no longer have any financial challenges. After learning different things about medicine, and examining my life, I believe that I have the capability and ability needed to study medicine.
I have been through many challenges in life, and upon reflection; I have realized that I had a hard time because I did not know who to ask for help. The physical problems that I experienced and the uncertainty of living in a foreign country affected my mental capacity and this contributed to my poor academic performance. I have been able to sort out my personal problems and my family situation is better. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to get through all the terrible and negative situations, which I have encountered. I am confident that I will get the chance to study the medical program.