By Jameel Barkat
Born in a thatched-roof house of very poor family, I would have never thought that someday Korea would reshape my future and transform my life in such an amazing way.
It was the onset of spring in 2014, snow had started to melt in my native village, grass dared to grow after a harsh winter, flowers were waiting to bloom and birds were preparing to welcome the spring.
I turned on the cellular data and checked my email and was completely surprised to see the acceptance letter of my Ph.D. admission from Daegu University, South Korea.
I rushed to the home straight like a child playing in street and shared the good news about my admission with my mom. Mom was not happy in the first instance as she enquired, “how much money we would need to finance you?”. I could understand her concern very well because as she had sold her jewellery to support my master’s program.
After few months, I got the visa and started to pack my things. I landed at Incheon airport and ate the first burger of my life. I did not like it but had no option to kill my hunger. Airport was very well built and was clearly reflecting the advanced country it was. We reached Daegu very late as we missed the KTX train.
The first thing that surprised me was the automatic sensor lights of a building we entered and numerical locks it had. Although it is funny to get impressed by such small things but for an adult like me who has seen the poverty from deep quarters of life, it is enough to get fascinated by such small gestures.
I experienced diverse cultures, which changed my outlook and had the huge influence on me. I was very passionate to capitalize the opportunity I had secured. My research project was challenging combined with the hard coaching of my esteemed professor.
However, outside a laboratory, Korea was beautiful and amazing in every way. Korean public transport is very reliable and affordable and I wish every country could emulate this. Apart from it, how come we can forget the fastest internet we enjoy here!
Above all, Korea is one of the safest countries in the world. Coming from a conflict-ridden region, safety was a most cherished thing I had here. Back at home, we are habitual of moral policing and heavy military presence everywhere but here I have never seen any armed military presence despite having escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
While walking in deserted streets with my girlfriend, I used to think that police will come and harass us like in my hometown but then I realized that in real free and democratic nations it never happens. This sense of freedom and security is very dear to my heart.
I was successful to publish some good research articles, which enabled me to compete at highest international levels. It was because of the platform Korea provided me that I got two offers from two prestigious universities in Sweden, the University of Stockholm and the University of Gothenburg.
Korea has markedly added a multi-dimensional experience to my life and career and has enriched my perception immensely. I look forward to maintaining a life-long bond, a commitment with Korea and be an ambassador of narrating my tales and ventures from Korea to my future destinations! Thank you, Korea, for you own my heart!
Jameel Barkat is a Ph.D. scholar from Daegu University South Korea. Write to email@example.com.