The 4-day week was an unnecessary change. Sure it does afford an extra weekend, but all it isn’t always possible to reap the advantages provided from that extra day. Also, it has ironically resulted not in a regular four-weekdays and three-day weekends but a fluctuating five-day week and typical weekends.
Given a typical schedule of two to four classes a day surrounding lunch time, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday used to be my “easy” days. Each classes lasted an hour and the day ended early, and this allowed one to take care of non-academic parts of life. Go to the bank, send something by post, or even take a quick, needed trip outside of campus. So, the week felt more like a natural continuation, which isn’t quite true in the four-day week scheme. The following is my present routine. On a longer day when I have four classes starting at half past ten, my schedule actually ends at five thirty; I cannot always count on the “lives” I have for class absences, so these days I am practically stuck on campus. On other days, classes end at four, and I can do my laundry and send posts. But, it still isn’t easy for me to leave campus; and now that the post-office bank has moved out of campus, going there is practically impossible during the 4-day week. Then again, a free Friday could be a good deal. All of that can be done in a day. However this brings forth two problems. Firstly, the week is far too irregular. During the four-day week, our lives are mostly in class, and on Friday, we are stuck with a weeks’ worth of cumulated tasks; ironically, with the four-day scheme we end up with much less control over what we can do over the weekdays. Which brings us to the next, second point.
Fridays are not always free. My unluckier peers are doomed to a toiling Friday of experiments. Most KAIST students inevitably take experiment courses at some point during their bachelor’s degree. Previously this used to be during the weekdays, and that day would be one sleepless night. And now it’s on Fridays. I understand that it is the perfect solution for balancing the extra workload, but it also diminishes the worth of the extra weekend afforded. In the end, this is no different from the five-day week with a well-timed experiment; seeing as how the departments have control over course times, it seems a less perturbative solution to the problem than switching out the entire week. And even then, four-day weeks don’t always save you the afternoons.
If the four-day aimed to allot more student time to academics than free time, it completes its scheme with mandatory practice sessions. On Tuesdays, my day starts with a class at half past ten. After an hour of lunch, a series of classes lead to a well-deserved dinner at half past five. Now back to room, except I have not one but two practice sessions from seven to ten. Disregarding its dubious value especially since KAIST doesn’t even give you credits for this, its mandatory nature makes it equivalent to a class near midnight. And as you can see, it results in a twelve hour long session, which would be on illegal terms for office workers. Is it not too harsh to expect someone to return home and continue their studies without pause after such long hours? The concept that “one so much into their studies should find rest within their work” is good and all, but it’s neither practical nor reasonable. And in my case, Tuesdays are truly lost.
So what did the change try to fix? Did it bring the extra weekend sought after? Does it make the weekdays more regular? Is life better? If it is, I cannot feel it. My weekends are the same as before, during the week every day is too demanding and different from one another, there are days I cannot have me-times, and all-in-all I don’t recognize any substantial improvements that could have been solved easier otherwise. It was a good and revolutionary effort, probably, but it missed the mark