Tuesday, April 8, 2008

University Life (Chapter 1)

CHAPTER 1. The beginning

Before I forget the events, I want to write them down now. Let this be the entry about my first day in university.

Given that I didn’t pass UP Diliman[1], I went to Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) instead. A daughter of my mother’s friend introduced a boarding house to us and it is there where I lived.

Life in a boarding house was very new to me so I was both nervous and excited. The first time I got my key to my room, I felt this sense of freedom. Finally, a place I can call my own. I was alone in that room which according to the owner is meant for two people. I beg to disagree. The room was just too small to fit two people. Talk about ripping off customers. I was always depressed during these times. I kept a journal where I vented my pent up feelings (see the journal, it’s a small notebook). Everyday I felt more hopeless. I felt like my future was so bleak because of my university[2].

Anyway, first day I woke up very early. I used the shower room which was so cramped. I wore my best clothes. I walked to my building early in the morning. The weather was not good that time. Dark and cloudy. Later it rained heavily. Luckily I was already in my building when it did. I was the first student there. I sat on that wooden bench and sent my friend Sarah Edjan an sms message and told her how noisy the arriving people were and she said that perhaps they were just excited. I agreed.

After a while, I looked for my room and found some other people also waiting. The only face that I can remember out of all those people is Christy and her mother.

The first professor was absent so we ate some snack. The second professor came for our Filipino class. We just introduced ourselves. I was sitting in front. Joanalyn Holgado was sitting beside me. Pauline Hernando and Sierra Manlulu were at the back of the classroom. Rosalina was at my back.

At lunch time, Michael Sanez, Joanalyn and I all went out together to find a cafeteria. Eating lunch that time was the first bite of realization that I am in a hopeless situation because the food was not exactly the thing you would want to eat for lunch.

Later on, my class started having sort of groups. One was mine, the other composed of Jenelyn Pajutining’s, Brenda’s, Gerard’s, James’s and Exequiel Tabiolo’s. There were also some left out individuals but all in all, there was a relative harmony among us.

I had to go back to my hometown every weekend and that made me tired. Finally I decided to stay in my boarding house and do something worthwhile than exhaust myself just to bring my laundry home. Going back home was easy. I just take a jeepney ride going to the bus station, walk a few meters, and voila, that’s it. My subdivision is on the way of the bus so I didn’t have to go all the trouble of catching another ride. The more difficult part was going back to my boarding house because I have to climb steps to ride a train or just cross to the other side of the street. Then ride a crowded jeepney, inhale the pollution of the morning vehicles and walk the dirty streets of Teresa alley. Certainly bothersome!

My father quitted his job when I stepped into university. That I think is the gravest mistake my father has done. The initial months were fine. Financially, we were stable and I didn’t encounter much trouble. But all of a sudden, we had a financial crisis. I had to cut out on my usual expenses. Although I don’t purchase a lot except for my groceries. My mother started complaining about sending money as if I committed a serious crime by going to university.

But my hopes of transferring to UP Diliman was always on my mind. Everyday I planned of fixing the necessary papers and going through arduous process to do it. Until my friend Pauline Hernando shared that she was also interested to transfer. And that was it, the start of a long and difficult journey.

The second semester in PUP became an act of balancing the academic grades and processing my transfer intent. Every time I could drop by the library I always do, although the library wasn’t exactly helpful. PUP boasts that its library is the biggest in the Philippines but they forgot to add ‘useless’. Most of the time, I just go there to sleep because I can’t borrow books and bring them home. I had to write the call numbers of the books and look for related article in card catalogues. How Paleozoic! And I just hated that. Everything became substandard in my view. The theater performances, organizations, events, etc. I admit that I did try auditioning in a theater group, but when I realized that I would get nothing out of it, I backed out at the time they accepted me.

Come vacation, I started losing hope. The university registrar was so sluggish I wanted to burn the entire university down out of frustration. I had to go back to my hometown and everyday I thought of my future and what would happen to me once PUP fails to release my papers. I was really bracing myself and preparing for the worst thing that could happen. Luckily, Pauline who lives in Pasig was so diligent and witty, fixed the problem. She had to pester the personnel working on our papers. She even bribed them. When I was thinking of coming to a news channel to report the unprofessionalism of the people in PUP, Pauline thought of something more possible and worthwhile.

So at the start of the new school year, Pauline and I were able to transfer to UP Diliman. She took Geography I took French out of my parents’ dissent. Well I really wanted to take journalism but I failed to take the interview and exam so I ended up studying something which doesn’t interest me.

END.

[1] Which is very depressing because this is the only university entrance exam I took knowing that I would make it.

[2] During this time, I know how important universities are. What I am not sure is whether my parents are aware of this. To them, just finishing university is the most important thing no matter where it is.

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