2013 was quite the year. KAIST underwent new political figures (KAIST International Students Association President Amalina Wahab, and the Undergraduate Council Blossom), changes in infrastructure (Office of Advising and Supporting for International Students becoming International Scholar and Student Services, Tae Wul Gwan’s (N13)new cafeteria Grillcook), and increased international reputations (influx of exchange of students and higher global university rankings). Though technically three months late, the new year has started, and we can look forward to familiar events like the strawberry parties, the culture festival, summervacation, and new unknowns.
I am not a journalist but a student (in a field relatively distant from professional writing at that) and little pushes me towards writing artfully or considering the philosophies of writing in the grand scheme of society. However, I have experienced, as probably have my colleagues, that having my name printed on an official news article monthly has affected me in my ways of perceiving our writing in society. Hereon, I wish to write on those initiated thoughts as the start of a series.
Imagine yourself standing in the queue for hours together just to get humble toilet paper or everyday food requirements, and even after the long wait you find nothing but vacant shelves. You are walking on the street, but you have no idea what could happen to you the next minute, owing to the bubbling crime rate. You stand protesting, sometimes peacefully, against the government which has failed to respond to the immediate needs of the public, only to be a victim of tear gas and aggression from pro-government forces. This is the present condition in Venezuela, with death toll rising above the bar every single day.
Over 40 students have been asked to leave the room in the first class of the first day of school. Among these were 20 Korean and 6 international hoogies (a term that refers to students who enter KAIST in the fall semester) of the entering class of 2013. While problems of student overflows and course authorizations recur at the beginning of every semester, situations were more serious this time: one-third of the entire hoogie freshman population have been rejected from the Calculus II class, a mandatory basic course that all freshmen are entitled to take in their second semester.In fact, the issue was first brought up late into the previous se
This December issue of The KAIST Herald, volume 127, will be the last that I contribute to as a reporter. Having begun as a junior staff reporter in my entering semester of fall 2009, my long-standing affiliation with this organization has seen the publication of 32 monthly issues that I either wrote for or edited. The KAIST Herald has played a prominent part in shaping my lifestyle at KAIST and will remain an unforgettable aspect of my time here as an undergraduate. As opportunity would have it, I find myself fortuitously entrusted with writing a personal column to conclude my participation as a member of this organization, and it is my intention to take full advantage of this opportunity by disclosing a few final “remarks” to you dear readers.
While watching the popular Korean drama Reply 1994, people are having a deep longing for the past. Including the old-fashioned items, such as pagers and the Magic Eye book, that were introduced, everything shown in the drama is becoming a hot issue. Famous songs, popular fashion styles, college life, memorable sports games, most popular movies, and dramas of the year 1994 and other elements of the drama are a big hit. It brought back nostalgic memories to the older generations and gained admiration from the younger generations. In particular, the songs from the 90s are being recalled and adored by all generations. For the older generation, these songs evoke their sensibility of the past. Even the younger generations who have not experienced the 90s can be on the same page when listening to the music and feel the same sentiments. These songs and the elements of the drama that recall the past are becoming popular because people nowadays are yearning for the sensibility from the past.
When moving into a different setting, there are always adjustments and adaptations that one must make, ones like those all international students have experienced since starting KAIST. Yet, among a wide range of things we struggle to get accustomed to, the language barrier has always been one of the hardest challenges, the highest hurdle that most of us never successfully surmount. As a positive person by nature and a KAISTian at heart, I still have to admit that the language issue has several times brought me extreme frustration and that recalling certain encounters still sends uneasy chills down my spine. Nevertheless, I have no intention of lamenting about these miserable experiences, because for all that matters, I still managed to make many good Korean friends. In fact, they are the ones that have inspired what you are about to read.
A lot has been said over the years about Abraham Lincoln’s statement, “[..] a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” One needs to only look around briefly to see the fallacy of this statement.
It was particularly fun being a KAIST student this semester as there were many festivals and events held around the KAIST campus. On top of annual fall festivals, which have gotten bigger in scale and popularity, extra events and visitations were made by famous celebrities and singers. Starting with the sudden filming of the famous television program One Night Two Days in our very own campus, there were also the annual KAIST-POSTECH Science War and Daejeon International Food and Wine Festival. Furthermore, this year’s KAIST Art and Music Festival (KAMF for short) was held for two days with many participants from outside the KAIST community who boosted up the festival atmosphere. Also, small interviews were held from the show Witch Hunt, and the big music show Open Concert filmed right in front of the Main Administration Building (E14). It was just a week before the midterm examinations, but a huge stage, big screens, lights, and more than 500 seats were installed. The cast of the performers were extraordinary; students lined up to get free tickets for the show, and the line went all the way to the first floor of the Student Center-2 (N12). Every student grew excited over watching and hearing famous singers performing live as if it were their last chance to ever meet them. I admit that the casting was too good, and I could still remember the thrill I felt when I first heard that our school will host the show. However, opening such a huge event in the middle of the campus in front of the KAIST Library (E9) for students who have less than a week before their examinations can be thought cruel. I have seen many students struggling with agony whether to participate in the music show of great singers and performers or ignore the show and catch up with studying. The events held on campus should first be well planned to be enjoyed by KAIST students rather than to cause any inconveniences.
How much authority the government should have has always been a difficult subject to universally address. Post-war South Korea has experienced a turbulent political history varying from junta to democracy and yet, has done relatively well in approaching a system fairer to its citizens, considering that its modern political history is shorter than a century. That being said, recent actions by the legislature concerning online gaming demonstrates that much change is still due of the Korean government while more active participation from the people is necessary.
We often hear that women are doing exceptionally well in every single field, making a difference in the society. But do any of us care to think further and analyze whether this is actually true? Let us get out of this sea of optimism for a minute and check on the world’s facts and figures about the utterly depressing condition of women in places all over the globe. These definitely do not create even a fleeting picture of what we imagined.
Midterm exams ended just a week ago, but it seems like final exams are here already. After a poor performance on the midterms, people like myself are all geared up to give their best for the finals. I promise to myself, “I will study diligently every single day and try to cover all that was taught in class.” But on most of the days, I fall behind my expectations.
In the last few weeks, Korea has seen the pariah of its politics: the Unified Progressive Party (UPP; whose factionist misfortunes were outlined in a column last year) making a spectacular re-entrance onto the central stage, once again shackled to the name of representative Lee Seok-gi. However, if the scandal last September had centered on Lee’s rigging of UPP votes to facilitate his election as representative to the National Assembly, the current hullaballoo is altogether a far more complicated – some would even say nefarious – pickle.
One of the biggest advantages of studying in KAIST is the easy and simple procedure when changing one’s major. Most other universities require certain qualifications, such as a specific grade point average and number of credits taken when transferring to another major. On the other hand, there are no such requirements in KAIST. If a student wishes to change one’s major, he or she can discuss the issue with the professors from the departments he or she is transferring into and from, get signatures, and then enroll in a new major. With this simple and easy way of changing majors, I noticed that KAIST students are more likely to transfer to other majors compared to students from other colleges. It is very common to spot students who have actually undergone changing majors or who are seriously considering the option. Furthermore, more students are double majoring or minoring in different departments thanks to the wide range of selections students can pursue.
We suffer from an inherent addiction to which there is no cure: numbers. One may argue that numbers are the very core to a myriad of academic disciplines that have catalyzed an indelible impact on the technological and economical advancement of human civilization. Indeed, without numbers, mathematics never would have been conceived, and without mathematics, we would still be living in caves, our best pastime would be carving racy rave drawings, and wars would still be fought with sticks and stones.
As a typical human being, we are bound to suffer from the procrastination plague every once in a while (probably only because neural and behavioral sciences have yet to prove the existence of similar conditions in other species as well). Meanwhile, within our own species - from the 4.3 grade point average maniacs of our school to the latest Nobel Prize winners and to even our demanding Calculus professor - I dare say all must have experienced procrastination numerous times. And if that had not made you feel any better, it is probably time I come out and tell you that this editorial piece you are reading is also just a means to put off the 40 pages of Cell Biology I need to read before tomorrow's class. Every now and then, we should all be entitled to procrastination without having to carry the social stigma of lacking will power. However, since most of us tend to embrace our procrastinating nature far too often, I strongly believe that for the sake of our own physical and mental health, we should all have some tricks up our sleeves that can help us resist the urges to procrastinate every time it comes knocking at our doors. With all that being said, below are some procrastination hacks that will hopefully come in handy to you!
It was indeed the days of the old past when students were reluctant to come and pursue their studies in the rich and dynamic society of Korea. But now, the winds of change have taken hold, and KAIST in itself has become a multicultural global village, a harbinger of cultural acceptance, tolerance, and vivid appreciation. By joining hands with universities and educational organizations worldwide, the International Relations Team (IRT) has been able to attract a huge international student body that come as exchange and full time students to KAIST every semester. They not only experience innovative learning in their academic fields, but also learn about the rich and appealing heritage of Korea.
The latest developments in the United States (U.S.) turned the world’s attention to the American government, which began its indefinite period of partial shutdown on October 1. The shutdown, which is taking place for the first time since December 1995, immediately resulted in over 800,000 federal workers being put on furlough, national parks and museums closing down, and other governmental functions being put on hold. All of the commotion is a result of the failure between the Democrat-majority Senate and the Republican-majority House of Representatives to agree on a budget plan for the new fiscal year.
You are in a party with a few hundred people whom you know. Realistically, how many would you be comfortably enjoying the time with? Fifty? Sixty? Now the others; when was the last time you had a lengthy personal conversation? Sadly in the mix, there should be at least a few for which your answer is “never.” Nowadays, socializing has become so much easier through the online medium, allowing for constant connections and easy access, which is great, but occasionally, one cannot help but notice how weightless some of those connections are. Have we traded a few analog friendships for more digital acquaintances?
Every time I tell people I live in the Hwaam dormitory, they either give me a look of pity or laugh really hard. Hwaam is not exactly optimal: I need to take a bus everyday to get to class, I am limited in what I can eat for my meals, and I am stuck in a pretty isolated area of Daejeon. Despite all the disadvantages however, I still live quite comfortably. In fact, I will go one step further to say that living in Hwaam became an overall plus in my life. As I was adjusting to Hwaam, some thoughts popped up in my head. Most of them were not world-changing epiphanies but rather, friendly reminders that helped my life a little – little habits we should all keep in mind.