[Campus commentary]Finding the why of lifeI have been in Australia with a friend and my younger cousin over the past few weeks. I packed some books for the trip, because I feel a little bit compelled to have books in my hand and to study wherever I am, even though I am not what you would call driven.
During the first few days we were in the country, Hye-seon, my cousin, wanted to go to a noraebang, a karoke lounge. But it was hard to go around asking Australians where a noraebang might be with my poor English speaking ability. Instead we shut ourselves in our little world so that we wouldn’t have to endure unnecessary encounters. I did not want to embarrass myself by being forced to speak in another language.
However, I saw many young people and students traveling around and they did not seem to feel awkward at all.
When I met a local person to chat with, an Australian student with a bushy beard, he told me about his situation. He said his parents had pressed him to move out of the house with no financial support, even though he was the only son from an affluent family. They wanted him to have the valuable experience of surviving by himself. It was important to them that he learn how to make it on his own.
That’s a big difference between typical Korean and Australian college students.
One Korean university student who had been staying in Australia for a while said she went on a working holiday visa, and that there were a lot of Korean students there like her.
“This country has cultural offerings that everyone can share, and these are not just light pastimes such as seeing movies, singing in the noraebang or playing video games,” she said.
“Maybe I am also here to relieve the stress I get in Korea because of the tough employment market. Some may say I am evading reality but my sense is that this is a more efficient path toward a good life.”
A Korean lawyer standing beside her added, “If you want to get a job, Australia has many job openings, even short-term ones. In addition, now that the incoming Korean administration is seeking to open up various opportunities for job seekers, I feel sorry for young graduates stuck in the race to get a job and not thinking of leading a fuller life.”
Many high ranking officials are putting an emphasis on the improvement of the economy and employment. President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team has been pointing out our current problems and they have vowed to change things for the better. They have a significant amount of work to do, but they can’t assure people of having a really fulfilling life.
Working hard might be a good attitude. But what is your hard work really for and how do you efficiently achieve a higher goal?
Last semester, I listened to a lecture about leadership. The professor said, “Final exams might be a burden, especially to seniors preparing for the graduate exam and job applications. Think of your real aim if you are stressed out. If you want to make a lot of money, think about why.”
His advice made sense to me: “Answer the ‘why’ questions truthfully,” he said, “and you’ll find that your real goal is waiting for you.”
*The writer is a reporter for Sookmyung Times at Sookmyung Women’s University.
by Yoo Kang Hyun-ji
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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