This issue of The KAIST Herald will be my last as the editor-in-chief and as a KAIST student. The simultaneous letting go of my two main responsibilities for the past year and four years, respectively, has left me feeling disoriented. Albeit, with the coming exams and final term projects KAIST has so generously bombarded me with as a parting gift, it is hard to dwell on these troubling emotions. It is even more difficult to somehow substantialize graduation - accept that I will survive the coming two weeks, that I will have to pack the items in my room that have accumulated on a monstrous scale during the past four years, and that I will leave KAIST knowing that I will never need to come back in obligation. My sitting here at Handel and Gretel café, where I have grown so accustomed coming every morning to eat breakfast or to do work, is the first time I am really combing through these terrifying thoughts and feeling the panic creep in. But as unsettling as it is, this time is providing me with an epiphany that I want to share with you readers because I feel it is at least worth acknowledging during your time here.
I had the wrong idea of what a final semester in college should be like. I thought the best way to spend it was to do all the things only a college student can: play, play, and play. So naturally, I was resentful of my 19-credit schedule - along with the responsibilities as the editor, it nearly gave me no free time to do as I desired. I spent my last semester studying and working, to the point where people questioned if it really was my last semester. But now, although a bit late in the realizing, I see that I have spent my time doing just as I originally intended: doing all the things only a college student can. See, the best aspect of college is the endowed freedom to schedule an entire day from beginning to end. We can choose what to eat, befriend who we want to be with, pick courses that interest us (admittedly, this requires a bit of luck in the random drawing process), contemplate between studying and sleeping, and be who we want to be. These seemingly small liberties are liberties that are not taken for granted elsewhere as we enter “the real world.” There are definitely times when it seems that our freedoms do not exist - no choice but to study over sleep, no choice but to eat at the school cafeteria, no choice but to be with your project partners, and no choice but to take this course in order to graduate. However, oftentimes these are just sacrifices one must make in order to fulfill a bigger choice he or she made in advance, and they should never be confused as restrictions on our freedom.
I am not saying that I had been able to manage this optimism throughout my time at KAIST. But, I hope that my epiphany helps you somehow during your times of distress - perhaps by helping you remember that you have the freedom to choose not for that day if you are feeling terrible and choose not to continue on if you really believe it is not your path; or perhaps, by keeping you motivated with the reminder that you used your right to freedom for a bigger choice.