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.
General reflections on the entire undergraduate experience aside, my current everyday life has settled into a status quo of contradictions. On the one hand, I find myself often wearing graduation goggles when regarding university life; what I had until recently perceived to be banal, abstruse, and thoroughly unenjoyable now appear somewhat pleasant, significant, and familiar. Paying attention in class has become a surprisingly facile activity, while music festivals and other events on campus appear exciting. However, this sense of vigor and academic fervor does not last, and only when the zeal eventually wears off do I fully realize just how tired and jaded I am of the work and life I had faithfully adhered to. No amount of puzzling nostalgia can completely mask the mental and physical wear and tear, it seems. Perhaps in the future I will look back on my college years with fondness, but for the time being, I feel it would be best to enjoy the upcoming winter break so that I can be equipped with renewed enthusiasm before meeting the fresh new challenge next spring.
With graduation comes a certain sense of relief, as the knowledge that you have successfully navigated your way through a demanding and lengthy trial truly registers in your mind. The knowledge of your imminent graduation resolves the undeniable pressure deriving from how your family, friends, society at large, and you yourself expect students to graduate on time under normal circumstances. But graduation is not simply a form of escape; it is also proof for oneself, proof of making clear progress in the game of life and of earning the right to move on to the next stage. In fact this next stage, which for me is graduate school, can be more daunting than any prospect of undergraduate study. Graduate school represents a greater task than the one previously faced as an undergraduate - it is more challenging and holds far more significant ramifications to the student in question. Thus, my upcoming graduation is, I find, both a scary and exciting affair.
Lastly, to take a Herald-centric perspective, my final issue of the newspaper recalls to my mind the highs and lows of my time here. I paid for the mistakes I made as a freshman reporter, and I was constantly kept busy with running the newspaper as the editor-in-chief, but being part of the creative process and producing a newspaper to be proud of was in itself hugely satisfying. For each editorial piece in our newspaper, the reporter’s photo is placed alongside it, and I am reminded that my own photo – taken such a long time ago! – will be there as well. I occasionally wonder whether I have changed much since the time the photo was taken; I question whether I am still recognizable from that photo and, more importantly, I hope I am on-course towards becoming the person I have always strived to be. It is the exercise in self-restraint and willpower that my time at KAIST has clearly affected, although as to whether it is better or worse I cannot say. I cannot be sure of whether the other graduating students, both those within and outside the Herald, share my thoughts and feelings, but I would like to wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.