Cinderella, this alarm is a wakeup call for Ewha students, who are planning to study overnight at the library to prepare for their upcoming midterm exams. The Centennial Library has been shutting down the doors since 1993, except for national holidays they are open for 24 hours throughout the year. This sleepless library, which takes 1,245 students, is a popular spot for students preparing for their exams.
“Since it is a women’s university, we pay special attention to security. That’s why we lock the building unlike most other universities,” said Kim Young-Jae, the manager of the Centennial Library.
Around 180 students, all looking dead set on preparing for their mid-terms remained after the shut down. Normally, around 50 students study overnight in the library, but during the exam period, around 150 students remain to study overnight according to statistics provided by the library. The gigantic bags in each student’s hands were filled with snacks, which they say is a necessity to charge the exhausted brain overnight.
“The best seat is somewhere close to the toilet. Also, students should avoid seats near the main aisle because it is really noisy,” said Hwang Jin-joo (Law, 3) who frequently studies at the Centennial Library to prepare for the national bar exam.
So, with the snacks prepared, the best seats chosen, one final, and most dramatic step remains. Yes, the time for metamorphosis has finally arrived. Students start getting out the most comfortable clothing, cleansing soap, hair band, and the big glasses from their bags. They all head toward to the toilets with a little fuss. Somewhat mysterious changes happen within ten minutes there, and all the fashionable Ewha girls turn into…well, total strangers.
“Sometimes my friends don’t recognize me. It’s the only time I show my face without make-up,” said Kim Hyung-kyung (Economics, 3). “This is why I like Centennial Library. I can wear whatever I want among girls without feeling ashamed.”
Finally the sophisticated race for overnight preparation has ended. At 12:30 a.m., the slightly giddied air calms down and nothing but the silence and the heat from student’s concentration rules the place.
As the clock gets closer to 2 a.m., a couple of students start to frizzle out, proving not all people there are scary bookworms. Some of the nods turn into deep sleeps and one of them even starts to snore. Small laughter spreads as the snore gets a little louder.
“I carry a small mister and spray it to my face whenever I’m sleepy. Well, I barely use it for the original purpose these days,” said Shin Jae-eun (Social Studies, 2) who has been studying at the library since last semester to prepare for the Administration Examinations.
At 3 a.m., a short alarm rings out, indicating the mid way point in this overnight endeavor. About ten people simultaneously get out some snack and start to eat them slowly and quietly. Despite the help of this happy hour, some failed to be resuscitated even with the help of snacks; one student heads toward a long, hard wood chair placed beside the computer room. She lies down and instantly falls asleep. Another student, Kim Yae-rim (Politics, 2) who studies at the Centennial Library overnight whenever there are midterms or final exams, chose to fight the sleepiness by heading toward the stairs where no one can see her stretch.
“It’s helpful to occasionally relax the muscles, tensed by sitting in one position for long. I feel fresher after stretching,” she said.
When 4 a.m. comes, it becomes obvious who survived the overnight battle against drowsiness. Survivors sit still reading books while others sleeping on the books, utilizing them as perfect pillows. The long overnight library journey ends with final alarm ringing at exactly 5 a.m.. A guard arrives with glory keys in hand and opens the door, reconnecting us to the outside world. Free at last, Ewha people! Let the luck always be with you on your exams!