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Korea: Adjusting to college life

A Korean student recently wrote a lengthy post about her experiences adapting to college life. Her comments apparently struck a chord with many others, and responses flowed in. Her post and the reactions of other Koreans show how some netizens think about issues like fitting in and individuality in Korea today.

나에게 너무 잔인한 대학교.대학가면 즐거울줄 알았다. 적어도 고등학교보단 …하지만 첫날에 아니라는걸 알았다.첫강의시간이 되니까 요란스런 머리를하고 연예인같이 공주님같이 입고온 햑생들이 개미떼처럼 몰려들어온다. 그리고 언제친해졌는지 왁자지껄 떠들기 시작한다. 한명씩 늦게들어오는 사람이있을때마다.안녕이라는말이 들린다. 단한마디도 할수가없다 출석체크대 빼고는 ,,, 어느 강의를 들어가도 아는사람은 존재하지않는다. 하지만 이상하게 편하다 어차피 연예인처럼 입고오는 그런애들과 친해진다는건 불가능이었다. 점심시간 식당에선 혼자먹을려면 용기가 필요하다. 유일하게 나만이 용기를냈다 혼자먹는건 나뿐이었다. 배식을 받기위해 줄을선 위대한 대학생들이 날 보고 키득거린다. 자기들은 승자라는 듯이 웃어대는 놈들 무리로 몰려다니면 자신감이 샘솟나 보지? 옷쪽팔리게 입고 머리도 고등학교때랑 다를것없고 가방도 안사고 집에있던거 매고오는게 잘못된건가? 자기눈에 유치하게 보이는것도 죄가 되는건가? 요란하게 옷을입으면 뿌듯한가? 날 깔보던 뒤에서놀리던 어떻게 생각하던 신경쓰이지않는다 웃음만 나올뿐이다. 첫강의를 마치고 나오는 난 무심코 하늘을 쳐다봤다. 고등학교 야자시간 노래를 들으며 쳐다봤던 하늘과 다를것없었다. 장소만 달라졌을뿐인데 성질 드러웟던 선생님들 말이안통했던 담임선생님 원수지간이었던 반친구 지각을했다고운동장 오리걸음 10바퀴 시키시던 선도부선생님이 왜 이렇게 그리워지는걸까…. 대학교정문이 활짝 열려져있다 자유라는 건가….. 정문이 굳게 닫히고 담을 넘어가야했던 그곳이 더 자유롭게 느껴지는건 뭘까? 다시한번 담을넘으려는 나와친구들에게 달려오시던 선생님이 있었던 시간으로 돌아가고싶다.

College, which is cruel to me
I thought I would enjoy college life. At least it would be better than high school… but I recognized it’s not on the first day. In the first lecture, students who dressed like entertainers and princesses rushed to the classroom like a bunch of ants. And then they started chatting with each other like they have known each other for a while. I couldn’t speak even a word, except when my name was called. There was no one I know in any lectures. But I feel comfortable. It is impossible to hang out with people who dress like entertainers. I needed guts to eat alone in a cafeteria. I was the only one who ate alone. College students who stood in line to get their meal giggled and looked at me. They laugh like they are winners. Does confidence grow when they’re in a group? Is it my problem not to dress glamorously, not to change my hairstyle from high school, and not to buy a new bag? Am I guilty of appearing cheesy in their eyes? Do they feel good wearing gaudy clothes? I don’t care how they mock me behind my back. It’s just funny. I looked up to the sky after the first lecture. It was the same sky after I finished after-school classes in high school. Just the location has changed. Hot temptered teachers, a form teacher I couldn’t communicate well with, class friends I didn’t like, a discipline teacher who made me walk in the “duck-sitting-position” ten times in a playground circle… I miss all of them. The college gate is wide open.
Is this so-called freedom? Why do I feel more freedom in a place where I had to climb over the wall? I would like to go back to the time when teachers rushed over to my friends and me who attempted to climb over the wall.

Several interesting comments and advice below her post are here.

입학식 후 첫 학기… 모두들 마치 자존심 싸움 하듯이 개성을 발산하곤 하고… 본인이 원하는 방향으로 학교생활을 하세요…자의식이 강하신 분 같은데 도서관에서 지내다 보면 자신과 생각이 비슷한 사람도 만날 기회가 오고, 또 옷 잘입는 학생과도 친분이 생길 기회도 있는 등 많은 경험을 하게 될 거예요…농활도 참여하고.. 다만 수업 끝나고 곧장 집에 가는 우를 범하진 마세요..

The first semester after admission… all try to build up their own personalities like they are fighting for their own self-respect. Do your school life as you would like. You seem to have strong self-consciousness. If you stay at the library, you will have a chance to meet people similar with you and will have experiences to make well-dressed students as friends…. But don’t make a mistake, such as going back home as soon as you finish your classes.

당신이 바뀌지 않는이상 세상은 바뀌지 않습니다..저는 학교다닐때 어느집이나 하나쯤은 있는 “회색츄리닝”을 주로 입고 다녔습니다. 물론 청바지도 입고..면바지도 입고..당신의 대학생활은 외모로 결정되어 지는게 아닙니다. 그 무리들과 친해지려고 노력해보셨나요? 밥 혼자 먹을용기는 있으면서 왜 그들에게 다가갈 용기는 없는거죠? 그리고!!그들이 당신을보고 웃었는지 다른 무언가 때문에 웃었는지 어떻게 아십니까?감히 제가 당신에 대해 상상해보면 당신은 내성적이고 말도 별로 없는사람으로 보여집니다. 담대해지세요..용기내시고 먼저 말을 걸어보세요..

As long as you don’t change, the world isn’t going to change. When I was at the school, I was wearing “grey gym pants.” Sometimes, jeans… cotton trousers… Your college life is not depending on appearance. Have you tried to get along with those people? If you have guts to eat alone, why don’t you have guts to approach them? And!! How do you know they laughed at you or at others? If I dare to imagine what kid of person you are, you’re an introvert and don’t talk so much either. Be brave… Get some guts and try to talk to them first.

대학교에서 옷 못입는다고 그 사람을 피하거나 소외시키는건… 글쎄요… 사람들이 당신의 내면을 못보기 때문아닐까요? 당신의 내면을 보여주려면 당신도 그들에게 다가서야 된다고 생각합니다. 저도 2학기를 휴학하고 복학하니 친구들이 수업도 다르고 학년도 달라 처음에는 적응하기 어려웠는데 후배들에게 말도 먼저 걸어보고 수업시간에 많이 마주치다보면 서로 친해지고 모임 나가다 보면 인맥은 점점 넓어지기 마련입니다. 다른사람에게 혐오감을 줄정도로 냄새나고 요상한 차림이 아니라면 신경쓸일이 아니라고 생각되네요.

To avoid and estrange people who don’t dress well in college… hm…Maybe they didn’t see your inside. If you would like to show you what’s inside of you, you should approach them as well. After I took a semester off, I also had a hard time to adjust to school because I couldn’t take the same classes with my friends. But I talked to others and tried to join clubs. That’s how I widened my personal network. As long as you’re not stinky or wear werid clothes that might put off others, you don’t have to care so much.

전략이란 말이 있을정도로 사람들은 첫번째로 겉모습으로 평가하기 때문에 호감을 주는 노력은 필요하지 않을까요? 물론 내면이 가장 중요하겠지만 앞으로 회사를 다니셔도 이성을 만나서도 수없이 평가받게 될테니깐 아르바이트를 통해 번 돈으로 자신을 꾸며보세요.그리고 사실 그러다 보면, 자신감도 어느정도 생깁니다.노력없이는 바꿀수 없어요.. 사람은 혼자 살수 없으니깐 한번 노력해 보세요.충분히 잘 해낼수 있을께용. 화이팅..^^

People judge others with their appearance first. As a tactic, don’t you think you have to make efforts to be likable? Of course what is inside is most important, but why don’t you try to take care of yourself because you will be judged when you go to your working place later and meet men. As a matter of fact, the more you try, the more confidence you will have. You dan’t change anything without effort. People can’t live alone. Try hard. I’m sure you can do it well.

괜찮아요~ 신경쓰지 않고 자신의 줏대대로 살아가면 되요~ 사람과 사람이 친해진다는건, 꽤 많은 시간을 필요로 하잖아요~ 처음이라 그래요 신입생이라 그래요 나중에 동기들이랑 친해지면 언제 그랬냐는듯 즐거워질거에요~!! 화이팅!!

Don’t worry. Live as a person of principle. In order to be friendly between human and human, you need time. It could be akward now. That’s the anxiety of freshmen. Later, you will enjoy your college life once you get along with your college friends.

다들 혼자 다니는 걸 격려하는 듯 하는 분위기라 한마디 씁니다. 물론 혼자 다니든 몰려 다니든 자기 자유지만 님은 학교 생활에 적응하지 못해 혼자 다니는 것 같아 걱정이 됩니다. 대학교 가서 생활에 적응 못하는 학생들 정말 많습니다. 이전에 신문기사에도 났지만 요새는 그게 더 심해졌다더군요. 사실 중고등학교 때야 교실 앉아서 같이 생활하니 어지간히 내성적인 학생 아니면 앞뒤 학생들과 한마디라도 섞고 같이 밥 먹고 하면 되지요. 그러나 대학생활은 수업도 강의실 찾아가서 듣고 식사도 자기가 알아서, 도서관도 자기가 알아서 가야 하기 때문에 대부분의 학생들은 그 생활 패턴에 처음엔 적응을 하지 못합니다.

It seems that all other opinions encourage her to be alone. It is freedom no matter she will be alone or will be in a group. But I’m worried that she will be alone because she can’t adjust to college life. There are a lot of students who can’t adjust to college. I read about it in a newspaper and I heard that the students like that are more and more. In fact, at middle and high schools, all students sit together and spend time together. Therefore, as long as you’re not extremely introverted, you can chat with others sitting in front of you and behind. You can eat together as well. But at college, you should find a lecture room and take care of your meals by yourself. It’s hard to adjust to that kind of new patterns at first.

미국이나 케나다 카패테리아에가면 혼자, 한국대학식당엔 거의 최소2인이상. 겁내지 마요^^

If you go to cafeterias in the U.S. and Canada, you see people who eat alone. At cafeterias in Korean colleges, at least two people. Don’t be scared^^

평소에 옷잘입는거 좋아하거나 깔깔거리며 좋아하는 사람들이랑 많이 지내보지 못하셨다고 생각하는데요.. 그런 사람들 역시 그냥 보통 사람들이랍니다.. 그리고 님의 옷차림에 대해 쑤군대는건 자신들의 집단에 들어오지 않는 님이 껄끄러워서일 겁니다. 새로운 곳에 도착해서 혼자이게 되면 뒤쳐져보인다는 생각을 하게 되잖아요 특히 여성분이 더 그럴거라 생각하는데..그래서 자기가 속한 집단에서 멀어지지 않기 위해서 옷도 막 신경쓰고 말도 일부러 더 많이하고 그러는 거라고 생각해요..

It seems that you haven’t been getting along with people who like to dress well and like to laugh as usual. They’re just all ordinary people. Regarding talking about your clothes, maybe they don’t feel comfortable with you as someone who is not in their group. Arriving at a new place and being alone, you might feel that you’re behind. In particular, women have that kind of thought. In order not to be behind, they care about their clothes a lot and try to talk more than usual.

목표의식이 없으면 그렇게 되는겁니다. 뭘 바라고 대학 가신건지? 대학은 학문을 탐구하기 위해 가는 곳이니 학문에 힘쓰세요. 동아리 활동같은 것도 좀 하시구요. 대학가면 하고 싶은 공부만 하고 좋기만 한데-_-

You don’t have a goal. That’s why you feel like that. What purpose do you have at college? Colleges are for learning. Pay attention to learning. Try to have club activities. College life is good. You can study what you would like to study.

3 comments

  • I think it works like that throughout the world. We believe that things will change when we change places, but sometimes the change needs to be within us.

    Sometimes, accepting that one is not a super friendly person, that one needs time to get settled and make relationships takes the stress away. Take your time, and try and find others who also like independence and individuality.

  • […] To read the rest of the netizens who commented: Global Voice: Korea: Adjusting to College Life […]

  • resabambino

    College is whatever you make it out to be. There are days when you would have an high school moments but then there are days where it is all normal. Everyone is nervous when entering college. It may seem as the people are laughing at you or whatever but probably they are not. Maybe they just happen to look at your way at that time. Have self confidence and pretty soon you realize that someone in your classroom also feels the same way. There are always going to be people who will get all doll up for college and some who will come in their pajamas it is whatever is comfortable for you. Don’t worry what the others think you are in college to make a career and one day you too will be able to buy those outfits. Also, try joining some clubs that will help you make friends. Be open, smile and you never know. Good Luck in your college courses and hope that the rest of your college days will come with many blessings.

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