Even after having spent 6 years (4 years of undergrad + 2 years of grad school) at SNU, I never truly felt like I belonged there. Or rather, to say that I refused to belong would be more accurate. SNU wholly embodied my strong reluctance to ‘return’ to a home I had never known. The university represented everything I hated in 2003. The Korean students I somehow always failed to understand and connect 100%, or even 90%, the clear presence of snobbishness and pretense, all molded into a vase of incomparable nerdiness (not the cool kind), and the exhausting 1 hour and a half commute (3 hours back and forth); nothing was appealing enough for me to proudly state I belonged to SNU and that SNU was MY school. True, there was also the very present underlying popular sentiment that although you may have been good enough to be at SNU (the top 1% of each high school), you were never and never would be good enough to publicly tell others you were actually going to SNU. Like something you had to be proudly ashamed of (the possibilities of oxymoron the Korean society provides are quite marvelous, if you think about it).
I loved the two years of grad school I did at GSIS, but somehow, after four years spent there, I felt like there was nothing new SNU could provide me at that point, and well, to be honest, among my friends who had come from different other universities in and out of Korea, it seemed cooler to look down on my alma mater, ‘the best university of Korea’, as if to say I was worth much better, or I simply didn’t care about its so-called prestige. Sure, putting it this way now, it makes me look like a complete jerk, but it is only in looking back that I have realized that is how I felt, so I didn’t appear like a jerk back then – or at least, I don’t think I did.
BU in that sense has opened new doors. It’s like a fresh new start, and instead of feeling like a disillusioned grad student at yet ANOTHER school, I feel like a college freshman, eager to start her studies at some brand new place, and moreover, giddy to finally belong somewhere. I feel as if I could channel all the excitement and freshness I missed out in 2003 to 2013, a decade later, to rediscover and redefine myself as a BU student.
And so every time I go to the Barnes and Nobles at BU on Beacon Street, I devour every BU-related stuff they have in the store, from t-shirt to key chains, using all my power not to buy everything.
But I swear, by the time this year ends, I will look like “BU threw up on me”.
Don’t you love how you can basically relate EVERYTHING in your life to some quote in Friends? No? Just me? Well, you’re totally missing out then.