First of all, I would like to thank all of the TIEP staff for this precious semester, especially my two teachers Eric and Matthew for teaching and helping me in so many things. I stand here not as a perfect student, but as a still-learning student. I would like to encourage you all with my personal experiences.
My name is Brighton Kim and I’m from South Korea. I had studied hard since I was a middle school student, and eventually, I was admitted to a famous university in Korea. But I lacked the ability to communicate well in English, so I came here to study at TIEP. At first, I couldn’t express my opinions freely and worried about making precise sentences. Sometimes I felt frustrated and said nothing in classes, even becoming mad at myself. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I learned two important things that I would like to share with you now.
First, I learned to talk about my frustration. I was eager to overcome my problems so I decided to talk about my situation with my teacher Matthew. He helped me to see this situation differently. He said that this stressful situation was actually motivating me to speak English. Encouraged by him, I changed my attitude. I listened more carefully to everyone.
I forced myself to say anything that came into my mind, and I jumped in during classroom debates. In addition, in order to speak
English better, I memorized some sentences from TV shows, UT friends, and my TIEP teachers. I practiced them repeatedly and used them in the proper situations. These days I feel more confident when I am speaking English. Sometimes I even surprise my American friends by my knowledge.
Second, as a Korean proverb says, “If you cannot avoid it, then enjoy it,” and so I learned to enjoy studying English. Most important to me are the many fun days I spent with my two Japanese friends here at TIEP. One day, we met and decided to have lunch together. Because we didn’t know each other’s native language, we couldn’t help speaking to one another in English. We had so many great conversations while having lunch, swimming, and meeting up with University of Texas students. Our practice and effort has helped us feel more comfortable speaking English in other environments.
I will also remember enjoyable times in my classes at TIEP. When Eric taught us new words with very humorous jokes, all the students learned them and laughed loudly at the same time. After adapting to that atmosphere, I also started to make jokes in his class, and it was so interesting. In Matthew’s class, we debated controversial issues. This was hard for me at first, but eventually it became entertaining and even exciting as we continued to practice. I now realize that listening to others and expressing my opinion can be an enjoyable thing to do.
Now I’m getting ready to go back to my home country where I will finish my university degree. When I complete my undergraduate degree I’m planning to come back to a graduate school here in the United States to study microbiology. When I come back, even if my English is not perfect, I will not be afraid to speak or feel alienated. I will participate in many conversations and debates
with Americans. I will be part of the group with them.
If we desire to solve our problems, then we will find a way. If you do not give up, you will finally overcome. But as you are struggling to do this, do not forget to enjoy your experiences and classes with other people. In the end, with work and patience and friendship, you will find yourself living in the way you had wanted.