Photo Day 2020: What If We Were University Graduates From The Same School

“Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.”
Nora Ephron
“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next, and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.”
Stephen Colbert
“Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here. Make good art.”
Neil Gaiman
“Our six-word love story: “High School Sweethearts. Still Going Strong.”
Taeyeon & Celeste


Remember I used to do a series of “what-if” childhood photo comparisons between me and Taenggu for PHOTO DAY 2017: WHAT IF WE MET WHEN WE WERE YOUNG and PHOTO DAY 2018: WHAT IF WE WERE CHILDHOOD LOVERS. They reflect my contemplations and daydreams over all the possibilities of what if we had met and known each other much earlier in our lives, from the time we were born, growing up and going to school together, until today where we are both already/almost 30 years old as written in my old poem WHAT IF…. (Probably if we had met earlier, life would have been much different and happier.)

This year, I would like to continue my past Photo Day “What-if” series and this time, I want to ask, “what if we had attended the same university and graduated together?”. Or alternatively, another way of interpreting the purpose of my Photo Day artwork today is to convey a regret of what if Taeyeon had really attended my university graduation ceremony in person a few years ago.

In 2016, I officially completed my 4.5 years of Bachelor’s Degree with Honours in Information Engineering and Media programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. In July that same year, I was invited to attend my convocation to receive my certificate. 2016 also marked the second year of my supposed relationship with Taenggu. Of course I did not want my girlfriend whom I’m seeing as one of my VIPs to miss this very important milestone of my life. But what could I possibly do to invite her to attend my convocation when I did not have any real form of physical contact and communication with her?

What I eventually did was to pretend that I was sending my invitation to her on Kakaostory, my original channel of thought-to-be direct communication with her. I guess I was being overly positive and filled with so much trust in her that she would see and read it there somehow.

Till the day of my convocation, as expected there were still no news or response from her. If I were to think about it practically, I was aware that she would be flying off to the US the next day for an overseas schedule (KCON in LA) so logically she wouldn’t be able to make it for my convocation anyway. At least that was how I tried to reason with myself to justify for her absence or lack of response back then. It could have been a silly or sadistic thing to do, but instead of spoiling my mood on a supposedly joyous occasion and sinking into depression over her missing yet another important event in my life, I brought along my rainbow bunny Bobo, in place of the physical body of Taenggu, with me to attend my convocation together and pretended that she was there to witness this proudest moment of me receiving my certificate on the stage that day.

As my convocation took place on 29th July which was coincidentally our 18th monthsary, it seemed like an even more special and meaningful day for me too. After the ceremony ended and photo-taking with my friends and family finished, I told my family that I would be going off to somewhere to have dinner with some friends for a small celebration, but the fact was I went to a restaurant by myself because I thought I could/should spend some quiet time with Taeyeon alone to celebrate both my graduation and our monthsary together.

4 years have passed since my graduation now. As I looked back about it, it might have been quite foolish of me to do that but I really wished it was really Taenggu herself who had come to attend my once-in-a-lifetime event back then and hence my regret. So when I thought about what to do for Photo Day this year, I had an idea why not have her come dressed in her high school uniform to congratulate me and take a photo at the NTU graduation photo booth with me? I had photos taken with my friends and family, so I definitely wanted to have one taken with the physical Taeyeon next to me too, other than the rainbow bunny Bobo which I was hugging on to.

Just in March earlier this year, Taenggu had a little time-travel moment back to her school days when she took out all of her old school uniforms and got herself dressed in them again for some selfies at her hometown in Jeonju. It would make a great photo for me to use for my Photo Day artwork too! 😍

If I had great Photoshop skills, I would have easily digitally edited the image of her onto my original photo booth photos taken with family or friends. But I chose to print a 5R photo of it and do it in my own traditional paper art way. ✂️

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More detailed photos of my completed artwork! 📸

Dear fellow university coursemate and graduate, Kim Taeyeon,

Hope you like my Photo Day artwork!
I want you to know how much I really wished you were there to attend my convocation because you were such an important person in my life. Without you and my family, I wouldn’t have made it this far and achieved something in my life. 💜

If time could really turn back, I wish I could attend your high school graduation too! You looked so cute! Kekeke. (Even though I wasn’t a fan and didn’t know about you yet at that time lol.)


Handmade with love,
Celeste Koh

Listen to: “那些年 (Those Bygone Years)” by 胡夏 Xia Hu

“Those Bygone Years” Lyrics (English Translations)

We have returned once again to the start
Your youthful face is still in my memory
We have finally arrived at this day
The old photograph under the table mat
Links together numerous old memories
Today the boy and girl will go on their final date

We have returned once again to the start
Standing blankly in front of the mirror
Clumsily fastening the red tie’s knot
I’ll brush my hair into the style of an adult
And wear a handsome-looking suit
In a bit, when I meet you, I’ll be better looking than you expected

Oh, how I wish we could return to those times
Return to our seats in the classroom, deliberately trying to get you to gently scold me
The combinations on the blackboard, are you willing to solve them?
Regardless of the seating, he will always love her

The heavy rains we missed in those years
The young love we missed in those years
I really want to hug you, embrace my missed courage
I used to want to take on the world
But in the end I realised
You are my whole world

The heavy rains we missed in those years
The young love we missed in those years
I really want to tell you that I have never forgotten
That night when the whole sky was filled with stars
The promise made in a parallel universe
That the next time we meet, I will tightly embrace you
Tightly embrace you

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