At the Halfway Point (Student Essay)

JIN Yu Young
JIN Yu Young

When I first started my academic career as a student in kindergarten, I thought ten-year-olds were the big kids, teenagers were adults, and university students so old that I would never have to think about ever becoming one in my lifetime. Little did I know that once I came to university I would still be inexperienced in so many aspects of life, and feel only a fraction closer to adulthood. Yet here I am, twenty years old, halfway through my university years and soon expected to face the world.

When I was in high school, I thought that by the time I was in college I would know what career to strive toward, where I wanted to live, and be an accomplished student while having a fulfilling social life. Clearly I overestimated myself since I still arrive to my classes overwhelmed and anxious about lectures, exams, and assignments. The sheer thought of job searching still frightens me to the core.

There are, however, several drastic changes that have taken place over the past few years and especially over the past winter break as I transitioned from a sophomore to a junior.

I view university in two parts: self-discovery and defining career pursuits. The first two years are for exploring the various academic fields, seeking out different clubs and student organizations, and focusing more on interacting with others rather than on my academics and career. In the last two years, I streamline my focus and attention on myself, build up my credits towards my major, and start creating realistic plans for graduation and post-graduation. For this reason, I view the gap between second and third year as significantly larger than the one between first and second year. As I am entering my third year of university, I can feel my mindset change from that of a responsibility-free student to that of a young adult who is getting herself ready to go out into the “real world.” This increase in responsibility, albeit self-inflicted, has caused me to approach academics with far more seriousness than I did in previous years and has given me reason to be more organized in planning my courses and keep myself accountable for establishing an efficient work ethic.

I would also say that my perspective on my surroundings has considerably broadened since my high school days, when I was part of a small, protected community, hardly exposed to life outside of home and the classroom. I only focused on the information that was offered through the courses in school and I was either too young or too oblivious to take initiative to learn about the events occurring worldwide. In college, however, my being immersed in a pool of diverse, dynamic, and intellectual individuals has allowed me to open my eyes to things that were previously outside of the scope of my imagination. The newfound interests that I have developed through these encounters have given me ideas for new career options, and provided me ideals for the type of person I want to be.

I enter my third year of university with a renewed appreciation of my youth. Although I still feel as young as I did as a seventeen-year-old freshman, I can no longer deny my rapid approach toward adulthood and realize now how precious and fleeting this phase is. I want to use my last few years in school to enjoy as many experiences as possible before being bound by work, finances, or other obligations. This has, ironically, allowed me to embrace the stress that comes with being a student. Although being a student has its abundant frustrations, I will never be able to focus solely on my studies without any other real responsibilities after graduation. Also, I now consider the fact that college is my last chance to be surrounded by with so many people of similar age and interest. Whereas in previous years I felt eager to hurriedly race through university and start my life in the “real world,” I have now come to realize that the university is a secure and meaningful place to foster our passions and meet like-minded people from a diverse set of backgrounds.

In the first half of college, I never dwelled too much on what post-university life would be like. Graduation was a distant and unfamiliar milestone that I could hardly visualize. As I head into the latter half of my college years, I feel a poignant and bittersweet pang that this stage is coming to a close. Still, there is much to be done and many experiences to be had. Going into the second half of my journey here at SNU I will try to utilize my time and energy efficiently so as to enjoy these last few precious unforgettable years because after all is said and done, I will have many memories to treasure and stories to tell.

Written by Yu Young Jin, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,