MARCH. IT marks the beginning to a new academic year. New to school, Shinchon, class, adulthood, whatever it is, we are all stepping into a new situation. You will struggle; there will be hard times. So, for this issue, The Yonsei Annals introduces you to some pop cultures that can better aid you in the course of your new adventures.
Directed by Stephen Chbosky, Wonder is based on a novel written by R.J. Palacio. August (Auggie), the main character, was born with ‘mandibulofacial dysostosis’—a medical facial deformity. He had to undergo many surgeries and, consequently, was homeschooled until middle school. The movie captures a relatable yet very distinctively different adventure of Auggie joining school for the first time. We all know what it feels like on the first day of school—scared and nervous. Thus, it is only imaginable how Auggie must have felt, being new to school and being stared at for his unique appearance.
Not surprisingly, Auggie is bullied and teased by his peers at school. Anyone would have thought that he would quit after his first day. However, the heartfelt support ofkind friends and teachers helps Auggie persist through difficult times. Auggie also surprises the audience with his unfaltering spirit and his ability to view anything with a positive light. A prime example is when Auggie says “Dude, this is after plastic surgery. It takes a lot of work to look this good,” and giggles with his friend who had asked if he couldn’t “get plastic surgery or something”.
Even during the hardest moments, Auggie is always true to himself and is able to get back up when he trips over. This ability is greatly inspiring all the while poignant. It makes you wonder, how many rejections and heartbreaks the young boy would have had experience in order to develop such a resolute trait. The movie highlights essential attitudes to have when starting a new adventure: to be confident and never lose yourself. Most importantly, quoting Auggie, “Be kind for everyone is fighting a battle, Be kind”.
Song: “Fix you”
Written and produced by the famous British rock band Coldplay, “Fix you” was one of the hottest singles of 2005. It is believed that the song was written for Chris Martin’s, the band’s lead, wife in grievance when her father had passed away. Even to this day, the song remains widely popular and critically acclaimed among the global population. More specifically, “Fix you” is an anthem for those in pain and sorrow.
The song starts with a slow tempo with a melody that sounds like an echo from afar. The vocal sounds restricted as if the singer is trying to suppress his emotions and hold back tears. Being choked up and on the verge of tears we, as lone fighters, are also soon to become familiar to the sensation.
“When you try your best but don’t succeed… when you feel so tired but you can’t sleep… lights will guide you home… and I will fix you”
Similar to the lyrics, the melody shifts into a more hopeful tone when the word “lights” is sung. The piano is introduced and this defined sound signifies a direction that will guide us out of various hardships. Although the background organ prolongs the melancholy melody, the solid piano and string sound in combination with the soft vocals, act as encouragements.
When exhausted and afraid to carry on, plug in your earphones and let the song engulf you with warmth and reassurance. It will be the shoulder you can rely on or hide behind while bawling your eyes out after having a hard day in a foreign place.
Entertainment Show: Stranger
Everyone is fighting a battle. Everyone is struggling to fit in, to adapt into a new world. Living abroad is also one example. Stranger is a reality show that captures the lives of once-a-celebrity as immigrants of a foreign country. Currently starred in the show includes, a famous baseball player, a pianist, and a formal idol and actress. The linguistic and cultural barriers they must face every day is evident to the audience. Being a stranger to a country means having to continuously explain oneself without the ability to fluently speak outtheir thoughts. Reflecting on her first few years of life overseas, the former actress said, “I felt so stupid. I couldn’t do anything by myself.”
A life overseas is an everyday battle trying to break and blend into a new environment. This can be especially hard and a far more complicated procedure as a young child. I myself fit into that category. Having immigrated at the age of two, I have been a stranger living in a foreign country my whole life. I view this as a big accomplishment as well as a responsibility. Being a child means being more welcomed. It also means having the ability to learn the language, adjust, and adapt to a new culture almost automatically and instantaneously. At a young age, I learnt that it would be my responsibility to be a bridge that better connects my parents and the society I grew to assimilate with. Gifted or a sad consequence, still unsure, I am able to leave one place and adapt into a new place relatively fast and easy—or at least on a superficial level. It is an ability I gained from having being exposed to a completely new world and learning to be responsible from an incredibly young age. Likewise, when in a foreign place or situation, try make the most out of it. Go out on your way to talk to new people, try different foods, learn the language, etc. Yes, you may feel uncomfortable and frustrated at first but it is that emotional journey that will equip you with lifelong social skills.
TV Show: Mi-saeng
Is university being hard on you? Are you tired of the endless amount of assignments, exams, social bonding events, extracurricular activities and the seemingly impossible balance between them all? Well, just wait till you have watched Mi-saeng. Based on the character Jang Gue-rae, formerly a ba-duk player and now new to the working environment, Mi-saeng depicts the stark reality we are soon to face as career men and women. In the work field, there no longer are clear manuals nor a director to give guidance; it is a difficult fight left at our very own hands. It becomes a continuous struggleto prove ourselves worthy—worthy of a salary, a position, even an opportunity to do an internship.
Dumped in the middle of the “big bad world,” you will be used, manipulated, let down and turned against. Moreover, it is a constant competition against coworkers, teams, companies, etc. However, the TV series also offers a hopeful message. Like the title Mi-saeng, which directly translates to “not yet” (mi) and “life/birth” (saeng), we are all incomplete lives. Yes, we must continue to struggle for ‘life’ as employees. However, mi-saeng also signifies that we carry enormous potential and the multi millions of directions we may strive at. Nobody is perfect. We are all a mi-seang in some way, and thus, could become anything we wish to be.
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Starting something is always hard. As human beings, our lives are most likely to be a series of challenges and obstacles; I think they are what makes us who we are. So, based on the entertainment selection above, be confident in yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Being new to a place means being vulnerable, overlooked and often misunderstood. However, it also means the escapement towards a plethora of opportunities—the opportunity to learn new skills, mature, and become stronger individuals.