The Forgotten Value of Our Academic Life

Come with Dini’s Cultura as she reminds us of a side of academia that we tend to overlook -- all through a reflection she had after spending several months at Hanyang University.

Come with Dini’s Cultura as she reminds us of a side of academia that we tend to overlook — all through a reflection she had after spending several months at Hanyang University.


These days, many students—including myself—study not to fill their heads with answers to unsolved problems. Instead, they come about studying simpto gaining good scores or points. I do not blame them at all, of course, since this is a product of the current trend in job-hunting that is nothing but fierce and competitive. This sad reality ends up showering severe stress and pressure on university students as their academic performance acts. as one of the job vacancies’ vital requirements. Therefore, I do not blame the youth for wanting a good score in order to survive. 

In South Korea, there is a term called “Hell Joseon.” It is used to describe the brutal competition and pressure many young people face in education and career fields. The term “Joseon” refers to a period in Korean history, specifically the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), when only a small portion of elites ruled while the rest of the population toiled in fields or hereditary poverty. Therefore, Hell Joseon is used in today’s society to criticize the socio-economic situation in South Korea. 

For students, Hell Joseon describes this situation of hyper-competition in the education field, which drives them to invest an unhealthy amount of time in chasing good grades. Just like what people experienced back in the Joseon dynasty period, the students (embodying the common population) must work harder to be self-sufficient compared to their “future employers” (in this case, the elites). For instance, many Korean students start to get supplementary education from “hagwon” or “cram schools” from a very early age, where they would spend extra hours of study after school. 

I, myself, have always had mixed feelings about studying. On the one hand, I would feel the love that can be described as devotion and dedication towards it. On the other hand, I can not help but also feel a compulsory hatred that appears through the fear and anxiety of not understanding the materials, hence probably failing my tests (which is deemed the main goal of studying in school). One thing that I am sure of is that I feel a solid connection for learning that, up to one point, I define myself by how much I study. 

However, after a couple of months of studying at Hanyang University, South Korea, I am lucky enough to have conversations that give me a perspective that studying is just as crucial as gaining scores. One of my lecturers, Professor Samantha Afflick-Smith-Henry, made me rethink how we define failure and the essence of studying. We tend to think that failure is the end of our journey and that once we “fail”, we are undeserving of a second chance. This fear of failure pushed us to race against each other to achieve “success” anxiously. When in reality, we learn through our failures on the way to success. 

From that conversation, I realized that we do not have to allow ourselves to be trapped in the same “hell”; it starts by rethinking the essence of academia.

1. Worry less about climbing through your studies

Yes, your grades might help you move further in your academic or career path, but if you only worry about moving to the next ladder through your grades, you might miss out on the essence of studying itself, and learning. 

2. Take your deserved break.

I used to imagine that my academic life was a race; where everyone else competed against one another to reach number one. That is not true, of course, however, even using the same logic, you would need to take care of yourself first in order to fully ace. So, invest in resting both physically and mentally. Remember, taking a break while feeling guilty about it is not really resting.

3. Be Humble.

Despite all of your achievements and countless hours you spent studying, there will always be room for new information for you. Have a healthy dose of humility to let that new information into you.


My fear of failure and constant anxiety about studying did not suddenly disappear after all the reassuring words above. However, I am trying. I am trying to define myself beyond how much I study. I am trying to see myself based on how I bring myself up after failure, how I let myself study to learn, how I let myself take my deserved rest, and so much more. Because I am so much more than just how I study, and it is not too late for you to also try to apply these values in doing your academic obligations.

Created by : Dini Gabriella Debora Pane

Dini Pane is a Political Science student from Universitas Padjajaran, currently studying at Hanyang University for one semester, sponsored by IISMA. She enjoys academic discourse involving activism and women’s rights, as well as nonacademic activities such as basketball and baking

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