Feeling at home at Emory University
Her stint at Emory University in the United States, with its academic choices and professional order, has been an experience worth savouring for Swargajyoti Gohain
When I joined Emory University in the United States in 2006, I had to attend several orientation sessions, along with all other incoming graduate students (the term for Master’s and PhD students in the US) before classes began. Some of the sessions addressed general issues concerning all graduate students, such as transportation, tax and teaching undergraduates, or exploring library resources, while others dealt specifically with international student issues, such as where to open a bank account, how to apply for a social security number, or even mundane matters like where to shop for groceries! In retrospect, I understand how useful the orientation programme was in its attempt to familiarise the new student with university life and resources. More importantly, it introduced us to the academic community of which we were going to be part for the next five years and more.
Emory University, established in 1836, and located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a top-ranked teaching and research institution with two liberal arts colleges as well as graduate and professional schools of arts and sciences, business, law, medicine, nursing, public health, and theology. It provides one of the most comprehensive and subsidised health care benefits for employees and students. Emory Hospital, which works in close collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been termed one of America’s best hospitals, and the School of Medicine offers several degree, MD/PhD programmes in Medical Imaging, Anesthesiology and Physical Therapy, while the allied Rollins School of Public Health offers masters level public health degrees. Emory’s Goizueta Business School, also one of America’s best, offers BBA, MBA and PhD, while the Law School has programmes in LLM (Masters of Laws), JD (Doctor of Law), SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science). The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers Masters and PhD, as well as Graduate Certificate degrees in more than 40 disciplines, while simultaneously fostering an environment of inter-disciplinary scholarship.
Arts at Emory, a collaborative venture by the arts programmes at Emory, not only offers courses in music, dance, theater, film, art history and creative writing, but also organises regular dance, theater or music performances at the Schwartz Center, Emory’s own opera house, as well as film screenings, poetry readings and art exhibitions at the library or the Michael J Carlos museum, the last, an art lover’s delight in itself. The Indian student has the opportunity to keep in touch with his or her cultural roots by participating in the various Indian or South Asian organisations on campus.
I have had many people ask me what I would consider the best part of studying abroad. In my opinion, the best experience of my graduate life at Emory University has undoubtedly been the library. As a humanities student, who has to spend almost all her work time researching the contents of various archives, I found the main Robert W Woodruff Library at Emory a sheer pleasure, with its vast collection of books and journals, government records, and most wondrous of all, its digital sources. Out of the 3.4 million volumes, housed in all Emory libraries, at least 56,000 are electronic. The number of databases available to students and faculty total 669, which include popular ones such as JSTOR and new innovations such as the Ethnographic Video Online, an important teaching tool for those who use media clips in classrooms. Library study spaces include, apart from the ubiquitous general reading areas, carrels and offices that can be reserved by students as well as lounges where one can literally put up one’s feet and work in a relaxed fashion. The library also staffs subject librarians who are trained to provide specialised subject-specific advice and services.
Although most PhD programmes in the US offer a comfortable living stipend, students may work in libraries, technology centres or as administrative or teaching assistants for some extra income. In universities that offer limited student funding, students are known to make good use of the campus employment opportunities. Students interested in exploring funding sources outside the university may consider external agencies, such as, for instance, the Wenner-Gren Foundation which supports study leading to a PhD in anthropology. Prospective students may apply by December every year for admission to the next academic year.