By: Jaxinta Francisco
A new school, unfamiliar faces, a fresh environment, long-distance commutes – the “college life,” where one faces the toughest hurdles of one’s education. Time flies pretty quickly, and in just 3 years I’ll be able to finish my college studies. Truly, it feels so good to be in school, but it can be stressful as well. Stress is the number one reason why I can’t enjoy life’s sweet moments in college. Bombarded with numerous assignments, difficult quizzes, surprise graded recitations and other school activities, I have become terribly busy. Add to that the strict professors who give failing grades when they are not satisfied with your class performance. Nevertheless, if going college as an ABC Foundation scholar is the only way to achieve my dreams in the future, I’ll strive hard to get through it because I do believe in the saying that “the sweetest success comes from the hardest labour”.
The 1st semester of School Year 2010-211 marked the beginning of my life as a college student. I chose Bachelor of Arts in English (ABE) as my course because I reckoned it was where my potentials lay. Being a little naïve with not a lot of self-esteem, I prepared myself early for the first day of school at one of the most influential universities in the country – The Polytechnic University of the Philippines. It is widely known that this institution educates thousands of students from different cities and provinces throughout the country.
On June 14, 2010 (the semester had started a week prior to that date), as I walked along the corridors of the main building , anxiety and tension struck me as I faced the reality that I would be dealing with a lot of new people. It was early 9am, as indicated on my registration form that I would be sitting in my first class with other freshmen students. As I stood in the open door of the classroom, I was surprised to see the vast number of students packed tightly in a small room without any good source of ventilation and enough supply of light. I never expected my first day of college to be something not even worth remembering!
However, in time, I managed to meet new friends who I ate with, went to the bathroom with and walked with to and from the campus with. With my affable personality and gregariousness, I was able to befriend a lot of my classmates, which I didn’t think was possible at first. I even promised myself that before the school year ended, I’d be close to certain blockmates without exerting too much effort; it all came naturally to me, and of course, I succeeded!
My entire first semester was as fresh as a ripe fruit. In college, I learned that I needed to adjust to the changes I would encounter in my new life. Some of the changes I had to adjust to was waking up as early as 4:30am and wasting 2 hours every day commuting to school. It was really difficult for me to adjust with my new schedule because I was so used to going to school late in the afternoon when I was a Night High Scholar. When I arrive in school, I would mingle with my blockmates, and every time we’re given a chance to “chitchat”, we would huddle outside at the lounge to talk about common interests and concerns. Surprisingly, teasing about crushes and love interests had not stopped after high school. I was startled that it still prevailed despite our “maturity.” Cracking corny jokes and memorizing cheesy pick-up lines were favorite hobbies of my blockmates. Indeed, we were happiest during school days.
Lots of people say that once you’re in Manila, you’ll go crazy with all the places to amuse and entertainment yourself, like malls and bars. Being in college is seen by students as finally living a “life of liberty” where they are eager to explore their world. Of course there are always limitations. During our free time, (if it’s more than an hour) we would set out to explore SM Sta. Mesa to watch old movies in the cinemas for only P 15.00. The offer is quite inviting, which is why we always grab the opportunity whenever it’s available. Though these movies aren’t the latest and most talked-about films, we enjoy watching them nonetheless because it allows us to spend time together making good memories.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. In PUP, you’ll never regret spending money to fulfill the desires of your tummy. It’s a great place to find great-tasting yet pocket-friendly meals. For as little as P25, you can have yourself a satisfying meal. If you want to have 2 viands per a meal, go to the Combos store where you can get it for only P 30.00. Fruit juices can be had only for P10 to P15 while luscious shakes range from P20 to P25 each. In addition to that, unlimited promos are offered outside the campus, such as unlimited porridge, pasta, and even ice cream in a cone for only P20. Truly, eating in PUP is like eating in a fiesta-like banchetto.
Unique things can also be seen in PUP. First, there are ATMs (Automatic Tubig (Water) Machines) on every floor for students to drink and refill their bottles with fresh, clean water. Another is the slippery dome (a spiral pathway up to the 6th floor located at the center of the main building) where we usually play like children by sliding on the slippery floor. On the ground floor, the school supplies stores and cell phone loading stations are located at the west wing together with the computer shops, which offer affordable computer and internet rentals for only P20 an hour with printing costs for as low as P1.00 per page.
There are also other things in PUP that are not so great: the unbearable heat inside tiny classrooms and worse than that, cell phone frequencies which are nowhere to be found.
Talking about PUP as a democratic state university, inevitably you will see determined student activists continuously fighting for higher budget subsidies for education. Screams and shouts can be heard all over the campus as the activists roam around the wings of each floor to campaign their worthy causes. Oftentimes, they protest and walk to Mendiola trying to persuade other students to join them in their rallies.
Studying in a state university like PUP is not easy as I thought it would be. I’ve had many sleepless nights trying to finish required projects and assignments. I’ve had to make sacrifices for the school’s inadequate supply of electricity and have experienced being deprived of using the school’s facilities, etc. But with the help of friends and classmates, burdens and heavy loads become lighter to bear. I have learned to just enjoy every moment because life is too short to waste and the past is something you can never return to.
So to all freshmen students, good luck and be ready to take part of the bittersweet moments of college life!
Jaxinta Francisco is a 2nd year ABC College Scholar studying AB English at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She was a Night High Scholar from Siena College, Taytay, Rizal.