Despite the inherent paranoia that forces me to turn around every once in a while in the darkness of dawn, there is something oddly relieving about walking back home at five in the morning.
After a long day of school, lab work, and Herald work, my feet led my fatigued body along the main north path past the cafeteria and the freshmen dorms. Bike in one hand and phone in the other, I followed the winding turn towards Endless Road. The concrete shined brightly from the yellow streetlights. I passed the international village, listening to the periodic chirps around me, which were the only thing that accompanied me as I walked back home. As I entered my dorm, everything turned pitch black, the streetlights signaling the start of a new day.
It dawned on me, as I waited impatiently for the elevator, that it was five. In the morning. Of the first day of school. Besides lamenting about barely getting any sleep, I realized how much my life changed from merely a year ago. I entered a lab, working on projects that interest me. My new responsibility as Editor-in-Chief is tough, but satisfying. For the first time in college, I’m taking 16 credits in only major classes. The fact that I was taking the elevator up to my room this early in the morning (or late at night) was a clear indicator of productivity.
But was the work worth it? As I got out of the elevator, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any meaning to my new commitments. After all, no matter what events occur in my relatively infinitesimal life, the birds will always chirp, and the lights will always go off around five in the morning.
As I lay down on my bed, I realized the greater world beyond me, unsympathetic to my daily toil, was also starting anew. Reconstruction of KAIST’s Main Library (E9) is approaching its end. New programs catering to our students’ needs have been established. Korean citizens are becoming more aware of the government’s incompetence when it comes to ensuring the public’s safety, and are more actively seeking ways to make their voices heard. The Science, Technology and Innovation Office has a new leader to invigorate its growth as a newly constructed branch under the Ministry of Science and ICT. On a more serious note, the debate on the safety of nuclear power within the nation continues, while the threat of nuclear power without lurks in the unknown.
I eventually fell victim to my exhaustion, but only after reminding myself about the pointlessness of thinking about existentialism and the more personal significance of the new semester. I was excited about meeting the Herald’s newest reporters, for all the great articles I would read, for the new, exciting material I will learn in my classes, and most importantly, for the many happy memories I’ll make with the people I care about in my life.
Today, after a long day of school and Herald work, my worn-out bike tires roll along the north path past the cafeteria and the freshmen dorms. The bike handle tilts leftwards as I race towards Endless Road, the yellow streetlights there to greet me. I pass the international village, listening to the periodic chirps around me and the occasional laughter from someone further down the road. As I enter my dorm, a cat notices my presence and meows. And once again, the streetlights signal the start of a new semester.