[Campus commntary]Time outIt was one of those typical days in winter. The cold sent shivers down my back, even though I was snug inside my thick coat. I sat down on a bench waiting for a friend. Just when I was about to be overcome with annoyance about the freezing weather, a ray of sunlight beamed down on me, embracing me with its warmth. Suddenly I felt happy.
I was happy that the sun was out in the winter, making everything around me look beautiful. The small fact that I had free time to meet a friend made me happy. Then I thought, when was the last time I felt happy, being in my situation, doing what I’m doing and most importantly, being myself?
More than a month has passed since my term as editor of the Yonsei Annals ended. I took some time to think about what that experience actually meant to me. It has undoubtedly made me more capable of working under immense stress. Keeping up with my studies, as well as never taking my eyes off the work on the Annals, has given me the strength of endurance. And I became more mature. I realized that acting and doing as I wish does not always yield the best results. I learned to think twice before doing something.
But the big question was, was I really happy? On reflection, I just did not have enough time for myself. Being a multitasker, engaging in several activities at once, being both a student and a reporter, did not leave me any space to think about myself.
These were what I saw on campus during my tenure as a school reporter: I heard stories of older students drinking bottles of soju every day, but saw no one around me looking kindly on them.
Instead of the soju-drinking, I saw students, especially, younger ones completely fill the school library. This in fact is what everyday college life is like these days.
Taking a long break from school has also become a natural part of life for students, especially for career-building activities such as internships and learning foreign languages.
Inundated with many things to do, college life is not what I would call fun and games. Instead, it is a life-and-death swordfight with everyone around you, seeing who will finally emerge the winner at the end.
The college life scenes of the past are now disappearing. The tough days of high school have finally spread to college life, as well. Once a refuge to students after high school, the four years of paradise are long gone. The fantasy that students will at last enjoy life without having to do much studying and brain-wracking work is not all that true.
For many college students, pursuing happiness in college is difficult with all kinds of burdens on their shoulders. Times have decidedly changed. This overly competitive society does not let anyone take it easy. Life is a race without end.
We have to keep in mind that it is not a sprint. It is a marathon that goes on through all the days of your life. The person who can keep running farthest and longest will win the race at the end.
But even in the most stressful situations, take some time alone to re-energize. The small journey in your pursuit of happiness will start from there. Well, at least for me it did.
* The writer is a student at Yonsei University and a former editor of the Yonsei Annals news magazine.
by Bae Han-keol