It was a rainy day in August. I just finished dragging all my luggage from the truck to the first floor, and took a look at my new room in Munji. To my dismay, it was a nightmare. Years of dust on the cabinets, a dirt-stained floor, and a chair that smelled like it belonged in a dump. When I went to get a replacement chair, the supervisor told me “this place isn’t supported anymore”. His words left me puzzled until two weeks later when the semester began. Munji was bare and silent. It was a ghost campus.
Munji used to be the Information and Communications University (ICU), created in 1997. However, in 2009, KAIST agreed to merge with the university and took essentially everything from it including its faculty, its buildings, and its life. On a good day, you can see maybe a couple of students and workers in campus. On a hot sunny day, you can see through the rows of windows that cover the Lecture and Research Buildings and see not a single soul in its sea of classrooms and research labs.
It made me think of home and myself back in Canada four years ago, and how much of what I once loved, cherished and idealized had disappeared. I’ve lost contact with all but a few of my high school friends; the same spark wasn’t there anymore. At some point, I lost track of what’s going on in Canada’s politics, economy, and society. Perhaps most crushingly of all is the sudden gap I had between my parents and me. Communication between us became shorter and more infrequent, and I can’t remember when it all started to spiral out of control.
What saddened me wasn’t what I was losing. It was how much of it I lost, how quickly I lost it, and how blind I was to the situation. My current life and self here in Korea became my KAIST, and my life as a Canadian my ICU; the merger happened, and now my present has my past attached on as an abandoned extra.
Many might say it’s foolish to dwell on the past, and they’re right. My life isn’t in shambles and whatever I lost from the past, I gained nearly as much in the present. But I can’t help but feel that I should have been more aware of the changes that I underwent and the connections I’ve lost in the process. Like I said, what I lament isn’t what I lost, it’s the lack of control of what is and isn’t relevant in my life. If ICU was able to control their acquisition, maybe Munji wouldn’t be the empty shell that it is today. If I was able to realize what I was abandoning, I could have retained so much more to add to what I have now.