[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Make the most of your brief college yearsI’ve grown accustomed to college life. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been attending college all my life, though this is only my third year. It’s the pointless things that trouble me ― like applying for classes, doing homework in the library and staying up all night to cram for a test ― but they’re what I’ve been doing from my earliest days as a student. Growing up in a hectic, competitive educational environment like we have in Korea, I am sure most students here went through the same process.
But recently I realized that the things I consider “boring” in my college life are what I will miss later in life. I was shocked to realize this. I will soon graduate from college and look for jobs. I knew this would come but I’ve realized I’m not ready for it. Funny how I never realized that life after college will not be served up to me like a well-prepared sandwich, as was the life I have been provided by my parents until now. Frankly, I’ve never worried about my future seriously because I thought there would be plenty of time to think about it. I’ve dreamed about maintaining a pleasant and comfortable lifestyle, though. This was a naive fantasy for a college junior to have, I am now learning. Just after I became a junior this year, the following were the most frequent greetings I received from other people.
“Oh, you’ll be graduating soon!”
“You don’t have much time left!”
“Send out your wedding invitations soon!”
Whatever happened to the innocent “Let’s hang out,” or “Let’s have lunch?”
Everyone started reminding me that I would soon no longer be protected as a student. That was intimidating.
No one had ever warned me that one day I would be thrown out of school and I would be all alone in the world. I began to have headaches. Fellow students joked that I am now a “senior citizen” because I have less than two years to go until I graduate. But, I tried to assure myself, I am still in my early twenties. I may be one of the oldest students in school, but I am still young. (Aren’t I?) Just because people say so, I don’t have to feel pressured about earning money, buying a house or getting married soon.
When would I ever read all the books that I wanted to read since entering college? What about the volunteer work I have always dreamed of doing? When would I have the time to devote my attention fully to achieving my goals without the social pressures of earning money, paying taxes and so on?
It is not reassuring, but I know I don’t have much time left ― no matter how tedious one might think college life is.
Although I complain I am repeating the same things I’ve been doing since elementary school, I must admit that one’s school days are the good days.
Attending classes, learning from professors who are the best in their field, doing research in the library ― these are the kinds of fun you can only experience as a student.
When will there be another time when my sole job and duty is to devote my energy to expand my knowledge? Though I regret realizing this so late in my college life, it is still a relief that I am able to understand this in my third year, and not after graduating.
* The writer is the editor of The Yonsei Annals, the English monthly magazine at Yonsei University.
by Kong Hyon-bin