What does the word paradise imply? Though the detail may differ, most students would likely agree that paradise is living in ideal and perfect conditions. However, things do not always go as smoothly in reality. Affected by internal and external factors, one’s idea of paradise may not be realized or, even worse, may be shattered. The Granite Tower (GT) interviewed several Korea University (KU) students from different year levels to hear their personal experiences in chasing their paradise, by asking them one question: “How have you experienced paradise in 2019?”
Kang Gyu-Min (’19, Electrical and Electronic Engineering)
When I was a high school student, I always longed to be a freshman at university. In high school, I had to study every day for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), and became worn out several times by the tremendous amount of work required. At that time, I heard that college students have more leisure time compared to high school students. So, I entered KU to fully enjoy the life of paradise that I had sought for the last several years. However, life has not gone as smoothly as I expected. I still have to study every day, and there have been assignments that I have had to spend hours finishing. This is not the leisurely life that I expected as a freshmen student. I have also found myself getting sick and tired from an overload of work. Clearly, this is not the utopian life I dreamed of. In fact, it is even more challenging than my previous life as a high school student. Still, I try to find ways to forget about the stress and enjoy my college life. I am able to relieve stress by drinking with my friends, sharing our worries and encouraging each other. I also play computer games during break times, trying to refresh my brain after long hours of studying. These activities surely help me to ease some of the stress, but still my freshmen life is not as easy as I expected it to be. I hope one day I will be free of endless assignments.
Kang Da-sol (’18, Architecture)
Just like other students entering their second year, I had to spend a tremendous amount of time on my major. Unlike freshmen year when we had opportunities to attend various classes from different majors, we had to focus on our majors as a sophomore. As an architecture student, I had to make complicated designs of houses using the simple tools I had learned last year, which I found to be challenging. I was forced to stay late at school designing and creating houses, and the only time I stayed home was at midnight, when I had to sleep. Though my life does not seem to be much of a paradise, I still sometimes feel satisfied with my life. After finishing my assignments and developing my talents as an architecture student, I feel proud of myself, looking at the improvements I have made through daily challenges. Yet, the fact that my life itself is full of assignments and homework devastates me. I pray for a single day that allows me to enjoy life without worrying about homework.
Park Yeong-Shin (’17, School of Media and Communication)
In high school, I dreamed of enjoying paradise in college, but in reality, I was not able to experience this paradise at all. I had to take exams and finish assignments endlessly, and the smallest amount of rest soon brought nervousness and anxiety. I worked as a member of the school executive branch and participated in a school club, filling my entire schedule with countless tasks and appointments. On one hand, I felt happy and proud, but to be honest, I spent my entire two years of school dealing with the assignments I was given. Starting my third year at school in 2019, I was desperate to take a rest, so I decided to take a leave of absence. After deciding to take a rest, I am currently spending my life doing activities that I was not able to enjoy in previous years. I now read books that are not related to my major, I decorate my room, and I spend days alone visiting various places in Seoul. There is nothing special about my life in 2019, it is just exciting enough for me to relax and do whatever I want. Though this is not my ideal paradise, I believe that this year’s leave of absence from school would definitely help me to live an easygoing life.
Hong Seung-Jae (’15, English Language Education)
In fact, I enjoyed paradise until last semester, before facing 2019. Yes, I spent my life last year serving in the national military. After returning to school, the question of “Where are all of my friends?” immediately arose. Seeing my friends become senior students, some of them even preparing to graduate, seemed so surprising for me. I first felt this emotion when I found that I had no one to eat with after returning to school. In the past I enjoyed eating delicious food and visiting famous restaurants with friends, but I found myself so embarrassed about eating lunch alone at the school restaurant. Despite these feelings, I soon overcame this lonely situation by becoming the president of a school activity. I actually want to quit sometimes. Still, this has given me a sense of accomplishment that I was not able to feel in the military. I enjoy drinking with my club members after working together, and I also like talking with the members about club issues. More than simply giving me a feeling of accomplishment and freedom from the military, there is something more special in 2019 that made me feel like I am in paradise. In fact, I am LGBTQ. I was not able to tell my roommates in the military, but now I confidently live as myself without concealing my unique character. After entering People to People (P2P), a KU club for LGBTQ individuals, I found that there are other people just like me, which allowed me to feel confident about my life. Spending my time talking and working together with these friends, I realized that they are true friends in life. I am now attending school as a sophomore student. Yes, I attended school in 2015, but I got a lot of Fs in classes during my previous years. Throughout my life, I will of course lose and pursue various forms of paradise. After spending several years in school, I decided not to be obsessed with one specific problem, but to embrace my life every day, facing whatever I encounter and enjoying what happens.
I entered KU with a dream of working in the diplomatic field. I had thought about this since adolescence, but I felt skeptical about this aspiration when I started to think that I dreamed about this just to live up to others’ expectations. Since then, I started to experience diverse fields to find out which career would best suit me. So, this experience itself was paradise for me. However, the famous Sewol Ferry Incident and the Gangnam Station Murder Case totally changed my values and thoughts. I was aware that there were many social problems in our society, but the fact that there were virtually no changes in society even after these incidents was totally shocking to me. While the Sewol disaster reflected the corruption of society in general, the Gangnam Station murder revealed a misogynistic society. Both cases show how the weak can be sacrificed in this corrupt world. The reactions of others were also shocking, not considering these incidents to be a significant matter. Looking at this situation, I realized that my paradise relies on the society and does not rest on my personal success. Since then, I have constantly worked to change society, and I am still working on it in 2019. My dream has totally changed, and I have started to live as a part of society, not as an individual. Though it may take a long time to make the world a better place, I am still dreaming of and working endlessly towards my ideal paradise.