It has been a quiet two weeks for me here on WordPress and although I’ve tried to abandon it completely, there’s just something in me that can’t seem to let this handle go. I’ve been busy with school that began with a week-long orientation and tours, and the past one was an unexpected dump of academic workload. With org work, Ateneo online classes, and myself to manage, a good sense of balance was what I really needed to get through the week.
“Kung sino mang nag-sabing petiks ang JTA, nagkakamali siya.” -JA de Lima
My friend, JA, and I have been talking almost everyday about the heavy load that universities other than the Ateneo offer to their students. USF and NUS (National University of Singapore) both require a dense amount of reading material per day, as compared to the ‘per week’ basis that we’re used to back in Manila.
The expectations are higher, too, with the professors here so engaging that you can’t get through a class without being heard even once. Gracie, a fellow Atenean and friend who also goes here, shares the exact same sentiments, iba pala talaga dito sa Amerika.
What I miss most about home, though, is the barkada culture. Last week was a tough challenge for me because I wasn’t so used to not being around people. For those who know me well, you would understand how I mean by saying this: natuyuan ako ng laway last week. (See also, my previous entry on issues of eating alone: click here.) I’ve been slumped in either the cafeteria, the atrium, the library, or the lawn catching up for the readings I have to do for my next class. The breaks I get in-between, however, I use for GUIDON and ‘answer emails from the Philippines’ time. I would’ve have felt really bad if I was the only person basking in this solitary and academic world, but no–it’s actually a common thing here. I once tweeted that while studying, I looked out the window and saw everyone, literally everyone, walking or sitting alone. The idea of hintayan and ‘samahan mo naman ako‘ is obviously not an in thing here and independence is something that’s levels higher than what the average Atenean, or any Filipino student going to college, is exposed to in this stage of transition.
It’s always fun to go to my classes, though. The intensity of how engaged students are in the discussion and how everyone just shoots ideas to each other creates an environment that I would love to have had back in Manila. In school, I usually just observe a number of students actively participating in the discussion with the professor. I don’t know if that’s just Filipino culture to not be as vocal about things as the Westerners are, or is it about professors in Manila having an imposed ‘power’ over their students? The teachers I have here, albeit having doctorate degrees and a brilliant history of previous involvements, communicate a down-to-earth vibe among their students to a point that they prefer us to call them by their first name. As traditional as I am, however, I still refer to them as “Dr. / Prof. / Ma’am / Sir” just because calling someone who grades me “Greg or Nikki” doesn’t seem appropriate for my taste. So for once, my being an eager beaver has been put to good use and I’m crossing my fingers for a perfect score in participation once the semester comes to a close. That, and well, hoping that they do understand what I mean beneath the heavy Filipino accent.
Even though I’m working my ass off thrice as hard as I did back in Manila and going through the length of 19th Ave. and Fulton everyday, twice a day, it’s an exhilarating feeling to be in an unfamiliar place and finally have some time for myself. Before I left, I would always come close to tears with how I never had the time to really find myself and map out my future, but now that I’m away, I really get a lot of time to think about that. I miss the familiarity and security that Manila gives–work, Ateneo, the pub, Cannan, BF, Mrs. Diyco, everything–but breaking away is the exact thing I need to reboot, recharge, prepare for Senior year and eventually, graduation.
Yep, I’m tired. But for once, it’s the good kind.
I’m blogging about my weekend, soon. I’ve explored two cities, got lost with friends, watched a game, and went gaga over downtown deals. I hope I find the time to do that this week–until then, off to the books I go!