My Summer Attending Harvard Summer School-Seoul 2009
When I signed up for the Harvard Summer School program in Korea I did not really know what to expect. I was looking for a summer abroad program for which I was qualified and which also appeared interesting to me. This program matched what I was looking for. I had no background in whatsoever in east asian history, yet for me that was a feature of the program since it meant that I would be learning things that were really new and I wanted to branch out beyond western Europe. Since I am also very interested in linguistics, I knew that Korean was an interesting language to study. I went into the summer only expecting to be learning interesting totally new things and this expectation was satisfied completely.
First of all the classes were very good. I gained a quite reasonable degree of functionality in the Korean language for someone who had never really heard the language regularly before. Furthermore, more importantly to my interests, I gained a good knowledge of the structure of Korean with all of its manifest differences from any language with which I am familiar. The history and archaeology class was also very interesting. I not only learned a tremendous amount of basic information but also gained important interpretive and synthetic skills for thinking about historical information, and greatly improved my academic writing skills.
I greatly appreciated the structure of the program with the other Korean students participating in the class. They provided a very interesting perspective on Korean history and were also very important to the social dynamic of the group. Through them I learned a lot about modern day Korean culture simply by basic interaction. The fact that they were also there to help us with language was an added bonus. The excursions were also very interesting additions to the trip, giving us the opportunity to see some important places around Korea such as Kyungju, while also observing archaeology in action, getting a more tangible hold on the material we were learning in the classroom. Overall this was an incredible educational experience and I thank all of you for making it possible.
–James Williamson, '10