Another noticeable trend found in Korean university students’ leisure is that though students feel content with their leisure life, they tend to lay aside or even give up leisure time when they become busy. Students say the so-called “specifications,” which indicate the personal’s entire achievements during college years such as English skills, Grade Point Average force Korean university students to push leisure back on the priority list.
“Sometimes enjoying leisure seems meaningless, especially when everyone around me is continuously striving for their career developments even without enjoying holidays,” Cho Sung-chul (Hanyang University, 4) said. “Looking at my friends who struggle to find jobs, I feel pressured and become nervous making myself think that I should also do something to not fall behind.”
Club activities have also changed in relation to this social phenomenon. Clubs preparing for job interviews and English proficiency tests have emerged as a popular trend on campus; the new type of club provides opportunities to create personal connections and at the same time, build a career.
“In fact, one of my friends said his motivation for joining a debating club is to add another line on his resume,” Kim Do-hyun (Sejong University, 3) said. “This case is quite extreme, but I don’t think it is just my friend who thinks this way.”
Professor Lee evaluates this phenomenon as an unhealthy method to spend leisure.
“Building careers by measuring the so-called specifications should not be the object of club activities. Although done under the name of leisure, those activities are only a different name for labor, work and obligation. And when there is an obligation, the activity cannot be considered as leisure anymore, no matter how exciting it is.”
In Germany, the Ewha Media Center interviewed 20 university students about their perspective of leisure. The answers appeared to be quite different from those in Korea.
“Leisure is like switching off my soul for a moment,” Myriel Gries, a student of the University of Greifswald said. “Leisure means to respite from the stress and everything that bothers me and do completely different activity. Enjoying every moment of leisure time is a relaxation.”
The answers also showed that German university students rather regarded leisure as an essential part of life, especially in times when they feel busy and stressed.
“Leisure activity is more necessary when the schedules are demanding,” Natias Grez, a student majoring in Medicine, said. “Working out during my free time allows me to refresh my brain and relax, since people cannot study all day long, but need to rest.”
These differences stem from social structures, such as supports from the government, schools, education system and programs of Germany.
“German students receive advanced public education on leisure, about ways to enjoy sports, club activities, and volunteer works since preschool years,” said Choe Sok-ho, the dean of Graduate School of Leisure Business at Seoul School of Integrated Sciences & Technologies. “In combination with the nation’s stabled social atmosphere, the education German students had is greatly associated with a healthy college life.”
Germans’ efforts are based on the strong perception that living a balanced life with work and relaxation is important, as they help freeing oneself.