They’ve gone through it all - or at least they’d like to think so. Senior Editor Lee Byung-ho (13, American Culture) meets with Heo Yoon-seok (10, Computer Science/16, Graduate School of Computer Science and Engineering), Lee Seo-hyeun (12, Religious Studies), Kim Min-jae (14, Art & Technology), Hwang Beom-sik (15, Economics) to hear what these Sogangers have to tell the incoming Freshmen Class of ‘16.
What first came to your mind during your very own Freshman year?
Heo: I thought, alright, now it’s time to party.
Hwang: I expected some freedom, which was duly provided. I craved that airspace especially because I spent a miserable year retaking the CSATs. There was a bit of Graceland-esque, a bit of romance, a bit of fantasy, in my perception of college life. I guess that fantasy was fullfilled, after all. Academic-wise, I wanted to major in Economics because I’m interested in the Public Sector, and I guessed studying Econ would probably help my understanding in the field.
Kim: Art & Tech was newly created in 2012, which was why I was thrilled but also a bit worried. We didn’t have any graduating alumni back then, which also meant less information. A&T was definitely my first choice, but I was also anxious while preparing for my portfolio, especially because of that uncertainty.
Lee: I applied to Sogang’s Religious Studies program mainly because it fit my CSAT scores. But what I also found interesting was because of its focus on diversity and multiculturalism. I thought it would be interesting to read different texts from different religions and cultural spheres.
What activities did you partake in during your school life?
Lee: I used to be part of IDF, which is a protestant club within Sogang. I was first introduced to the club through a sophomore I met during Freshmen Orientations. The people were good, and I’ve made a lot of friends, but it was difficult for nonbelievers like me to go through three hours of worship sessions. My department also puts a huge amount of emphasis on the semestral field trips. It’s a gathering of Religious Studies students and professors, and we normally visit New Religions, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Unification Church, Soka Gakkai International, the sorts. It’s an eyeopening experience.
Hwang: I joined the intramural baseball team. I’ve always liked baseball since I was a kid, but I was too busy during my first semester because I was class president of my section back then. I didn’t volunteer for the position, but somehow my classmates set the mood. Class president was a big pain in the (redacted), but looking back, it wasn’t something undoable. Most of the work was simple labor, texting people to vote on jacket designs.
Kim: Kids in our department are really tight, and since a lot of our activities are focused in making creative work, people get close easily. There’s an annual Art & Technology Conference, which most A&T students participate in. The Conference is organized entirely by students, led by an elected student Creative Director. I was part of last and this year’s Design Team, and submitted two exhibitions. Staffing and planning the conference is physically and mentally demanding, but I guess it’s worth the effort. I used to be part of Abyss. I joined the club because I was part of my high school’s hiphop club and enjoyed performing. I left after a semester, because there just was no girls and I had a hard time adjusting my studies with club activities. Heo: There’s a worldwide coding competition called ACM, an inschool competition and a in-school Hackathon that a lot of CompSci students take part in. Sometimes kids do start-ups, or win other competitions related to coding or startup incubations. Not every CompSci major takes part in something relevant to the major, probably because it needs a lot of planning beforehand. I didn’t do any of that, and it’s a bit regretting. Aside from the academics, I used to be a drummer in Maekbak, and did three concerts before joining the Army. There was a lot of rigidity and a senioritybased culture, which I resented but understood afterwards. We were admitted to the Club Association in 2011, and because of our lack in funds our seniors pressured us to practice and plan our concerts to almost perfection. They knew the dear value of each performance. I learned how to live by and work with people. You know, the basic things in life. Perhaps the best thing I got from Maekbak was the people. You normally don’t get to know people from different Departments, and the interaction itself was valuable.
What kind of process did you go through career searching?
Lee: I’m double-majoring in Political Science right now. In the beginning, I thought of double-majoring in Business, but I accidentally took a College Mathematics course with Engineering students, and I eventually dropped the course. Business is extensively relevant in sending resumes, but I love my irrelevant major. I’m not considering Graduate School, because I don’t think I’d like to pursue an academic career. I’ve never thought much of seeking and searching for my prospective occupation, but as I get a lot of pressure from my parents, I guess that i’ll need to get a decent job that pays the bills. I actually applied to an University of Education, but was rejected during the interview. I view a job as a means to pay my bills and support my hobbies, but not as a lifetime goal. If any freshmen read this, I hope that they feel the need to soul-search. Explore and try out different options, because applying mindlessly for a job that you’d never like isn’t very motivating.
Hwang: I didn’t think much of Computer Engineering when I was a Freshman, because I applied to majors that fit my CSAT score. I initially wanted to double major in Business, because I wanted to manage a company. I went to the military with no insight or a specific field I was interested in, so I started soul-searching during my service. I did a SWOT analysis of myself, and found out that for an Engineering student I was fluent in English, and that I liked math. There’s a lot in Computer Engineering you can do with or relate to math, and I began to relate my strengths to prospective career choices. Machine Learning and Big Data were lesser known in 2012, and I thought that this was it. During my exchange program in Scranton, Pennsylvania, I made cold calls and emails to Sogang alumnae in the Silicon Valley area and tried to gain some insight on the field I was interested in. I tried to find where my interests may lie, and I decided to give my best. I don’t know about everyone else’s choices, but I can surely say that applying to a bunch of big companies without much thought is the worst kind of career decision.
Let’s shift the subject to something that’s more interesting. How was your date game in College?
Hwang: Korean parents have a lot of control over their kids before college, so I decided to break curfew after I went to college. I wanted to meet whomever I wanted to meet without the overt attention from my parents, which I’m sure I’ve been able to accomplish. Lee: I wasn’t strong in the date game. I worked at the school library, with a faint hint of hope like, you know, in those soap operas. I hoped for a bit of romance, picking up and piling books...In reality, it was manual labor without a single hint of romance.
So Campus Couple’s a No?
Heo: Campus Couple (CC) is a taboo.
Kim: Hah. Big no-no. I went to a coed dorm high school, and I learned that dating someone within a small group has its repercussions when it’s all over. I’ve met someone who was from outside of school but had ties to people in my Department, and...it was a bit inconvenient.
Hwang: I actually did date someone in Sogang... I met her in a (redacted) class, and we did a group project together. (Hwang asked us to keep his story off the record)
Heo: I guess group projects are a great way to start a relationship
This one’s for the guys. When did you serve? When are you planning on serving?
Heo: I wanted to serve as a KATUSA after finishing my second year, but was rejected. During my third semester, I broke up with my girlfriend right after midterms and got bad grades. I thought that my drink-hard, party harder lifestyle would kill me, so I applied for a fast-track Army enlist service. I began serving ten days later. Some of my friends served as officers through the ROTC program. I think serving as an officer is a matter of choice and values. If you value a leadership experience, ROTC’ll be good for you.
Hwang: I’m expected to serve in the Army beginning in July. I’m supposed to go to the 54th Army Division Enlist Bootcamp. (Hwang: I was trained there!) I guess the Auxillary Police program is also favorable. Heo: Some Engineering students do their Masters and substitute their service by working at a defenserelated industry service. That’s a big plus to your career, especially for those who want to do their Ph.Ds because it’s counted as work experience.
The last question is a bit more serious. A lot of Korean students depend on their parents for living expenses and tuition. Where do you live? Do you work any part-time jobs?
Hwang: I commute from Yongin. (Everyone else gasps) I need to wake up at six in the morning if there are nine o’clock classes. I can’t even sit in the bus because it’s rush hour. If you’re confident that you can manage your time well, living at a studio nearby isn’t a bad idea. The cost of commuting - combined with the opportunity cost - is just too much. You can’t use the time commuting productively because there just are too many people using public transportation during rush hours. I think two hour commutes are a waste of time. I’ve searched through a lot of scholarships, and I haven’t paid a single amount of money since last September. Sogang’s generous in financial aid, and there are a lot of scholarships out there, so it doesn’t take much effort to get a full-ride. I hope more students would search for scholarships both inside and outside of school and relieve whatever financial burden that occurs during the four years of study.
Kim: One of my Ewha friends commutes from Dongbaek. She wakes ups at five in the morning. I’m from Daejeon, and I live in the dorm. As someone who lives far away from home, I try to cover my own expenses. I’ve done a lot of part time jobs, from serving at a restaurant to teaching at private hagwons. Service at a restaurant is physically challenging but is much less stressful because it’s simple. I’ve also worked at my mom’s cosmetics store in Daejeon. But I guess the best part-times are in-school stunts. I was a TA as part of a mentorship program within A&T, and it was, well, probably the easiest paying job i’ve ever had.
Lee: I tutored once and also worked at the school library. Like what Kim said, in-school jobs are too good to be true. You don’t do much work but get paid the same nontheless. The Loyola Librarian jobs are great but hard to get in, and there’s a seniority-based culture. I guess the perks come with a small price. Heo: I’d like to recommend any freshmen a service-related part time job. Waiting on tables or working with others really teaches you how to deal with various people. Furthermore, since it’s physically demanding, you learn the value of labor and begin to plan your budget more wisely.