Friday, June 12, 2009

An Appeal to my Adviser

I'm sure you're all wondering how school is going. It's not easy to finish a degree in a country you don't live in anymore. Well, it's looking almost impossible for me to do just that, so I took a different approach and sent this email to my adviser after scheduling a semester of classes that are not on the list of courses that count towards my major. I have spent so many hours scouring course lists and descriptions and transfer courses. I found a way to fill the Spring semester, but I need to take Fall courses to maintain student status for my student loan deferral and to stay a dependent on my mother's health, dental, and optical insurance. Not to mention, I want to graduate as soon as possible so I can finally do just one thing. Work and school is very stressful.

Anyway here's the email I sent. I'll let you know the gist of his reply when I get one.


I apologize in advance for the length of this email, but I can't exactly make a compelling argument for my case in person so please bear with me and skim it.

The courses I had planned are not offered online. I'm really having to stretch the boundaries of the major requirements here.... Actually, I have to break them. Because of deadlines for MSU enrollment and for my student loans, I had to enroll in some courses. Basically, I scoured the online offerings at least ten times and came up with a schedule that should fit my major. I know you're not gonna like it very much, but I don't know what else to do. My life is here in Korea now. I have work, a social network, and a boyfriend. Also, I'm learning Korean at a breakneck speed and have businessmen waiting for me to graduate so they can fight for me to work in their companies. I can't go back to America.

I'm sure this is unprecedented, but please allow me to mold my own major by coming as close as I can to the one I've chosen. Basically, I interpret my major as follows:
Global and Area Studies: I want to know about the world. How does it work? How do people differ? Why does it work that way and why do people differ? How does the differences between people influence the way the world works? Etc...
Asian Studies: I want to understand Asia. What makes Asia unique? How and why are the history and culture of Asia different from the rest of the world, and how does that influence interactions with the rest of the world?
Psychology: I want to understand how people think. Why do people do the things they do? What can go wrong in a person's life that makes him or her a social outlier? What makes people interact with each other the way they do, and how can I predict these interactions?
All together: I want to understand how Asia works and where it fits with the rest of the world. Asia is completely unique, but surprisingly similar to everywhere else. What is purely human nature, and what is affected by environmental influences? What are the causes and effects of Asian thinking, tradition, and Westernization?

I believe my course selections for the fall reflect these interests and issues that I need to know about. Theoretically, the point of college is to prepare students for what we will encounter in the real world. Well, now I am in the real world, a world I'm completely unfamiliar with. I have the rare opportunity to be independent and a part of society at the same time as having access to university courses. This helps me see what's important in my life and use the university resources to the full extent. I hate to be confined by the bureaucracy of mildly arbitrary course selections by people who will never live the exact life I am living now. I understand that the major requirements are selected carefully, but as you've mentioned before, the GLAS major is new and constantly undergoing changes as it gains clarity and focus. I have carefully chosen courses that I feel are important for my focus, given the limited resources available to me in my unusual circumstances.

Here are the courses I enrolled in (as previously mentioned, I have time constraints that make this difficult):
ANR 250: Global Issues in ANR (agriculture and natural resources)
ANP 200: Navigating Another Culture
EC 201: Introduction to Microeconomics
HST 140: World History to 1500
ISS 310: People and Environment

I know you already rejected ANP 200, but I think it would be very helpful for me. Yes, I have firsthand experience every day in navigating another culture, but let me tell you it's very haphazard. It would be nice to add a little method to the madness of living in another country.

Here are my justifications for the other ones, if you can't figure out what I'm thinking:
ANR 250: In Korea, land is limited so the prices of meat and produce are higher, and research about maximizing land productivity thrives. Koreans are using technology to improve agriculture, applying their one resource, human intelligence and motivation, to try to extract what they can from their land. I would like to know more about this kind of thing in a global context, as well as understand what's going on in Korea more deeply.
EC 201: I know next to nothing about economics. I just know what I learned in high school and basic common sense. It's important for everyone in the world to understand economics. I would also like to take macroeconomics later.
HST 140: I'm taking the counterpart to this course, HST 150, in the spring. I don't understand why "World History Since 1500" is applicable to my major, but it's not important to know any history before 1500. I've been taught modern world history since middle school; I don't know ancient history. In developmental psychology, the earliest stages of life are arguably the most crucial to a person's development. Human history is the same as the history of one person's life, but on a larger scale. I want to understand the world's infancy so I can see trends and the effect of human nature as history repeats itself and builds on itself.
ISS 310: ISS 330B is unavailable online. This is the closest course I can take. Please just let it count. Aside from that, environmental factors are a big psychological, social, and economic factor in everyday life. How is that not important to me?

If necessary, I will appeal to the department. I think that I have a unique perspective and situation that require some exceptions if I am ever to graduate. I love MSU, and I would hate to have a reason to be frustrated with it. I know I have a bright future that will reflect well on MSU, but if I am forced to return to America to finish my degree, I may as well choose a different university because I don't belong in America anymore. People in Korea are incredibly impressed with my strength, morality, and cultural, personal, and psychological insight, as well as with my intuitive absorption of their language. If I am impressing everyone I meet even though I can't express myself adequately in Korean yet, imagine what I can accomplish in a few years. Please allow me to use these courses I've chosen to count towards my major. This is my life, and I don't believe that uneccessary boundaries should stand in the way of my future. If I have to send 1000 emails to the dean of the college, I will do it. I just want to stay in Korea, graduate from MSU, and start changing the world. I hope to start an English and music academy, revolutionizing the way people think about language by applying psychological research on learning techniques and my passions for languages and music. If I am to do this in the next 5 or 10 years, I can't be a college dropout. Please, please, please don't tell me I can't graduate.


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