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The Semester Pursuit
[ Issue 128 Page 13 ] Friday, March 28, 2014, 16:03:57 Kibum Park parkkibs@kaist.ac.kr

 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.

But for some internationals, possibly including you, they start off the year on the wrong foot. They misjudge what they are capable of. Some start big with goals like straight As or internships for corporate giants like Samsung. They blast off like a haywire rocket but like one, often miss their mark. Some only think of the present and are ill-prepared; some run out of energy; some lose track of their original plan. Whatever the reason for underestimating their goal, they eventually crash and burn into a smouldering crater.
Others could not care less; passing classes are all that matters. KAIST to them is like a gardening store; they buy shovels to begin digging a procrastination hole; they buy pretty flowers to distract themselves; they buy seeds to see if they can grow anything but then forget to water them. Then after their "shopping trip", they go out with friends for a drink to celebrate being reunited or go back to their rooms to sleep the day away. Both of these situations are hazardous and trying to find an easy fix for these behaviours is baffling even for KAIST's brightest minds, but steps can be taken.
First is to sit down with a sheet of paper and smother it with everything you plan to do. Internships, GPA, that club that caught your eye. It doesn't matter, fill that paper up. After unleashing havoc, take a deep breath and sort out what is mandatory, what is exciting, and what is pointless. Know how much time you have and are willing to spend for each thing you want to do.
Second, find some time for exploring. On campus, Creative Learning Building (E11) holds exhibitions such as the recent Samsung Display Recruitment and it gives people an idea of what to expect for the future. International Center (W-2) has a lot of information about fantastic international programs. Go out to West Gate with a Korean friend to try out some quality food and learn a thing or two about Korean society and culture. Just spend a couple minutes and you can find several years worth of enjoyable experiences.
Finally, get an energy source. I'm not talking about caffeine buzzes, but something to vent out your stress. Simply getting up with a bright attitude and not a groggy depressed one can make a world of difference. If you're stuck in your notes or under your covers, get up and be active. Exercise can pump you up, so consider a sports club like Kaori or the gyms at the Sports Complex (N3) or Shilleo Hall (N20). Go out and socialize; gather some friends and watch a movie, eat dinner. Get some energy, and feel relaxed and comfortable to try and succeed.
Will these tactics work? It depends. If your life is already on track and fun, then this will be of no use. But if you needed one more push to set things right, then by all means, I encourage you to try. So go ahead. Make your life.
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