A Couple of Culture Shocks

By Jules Medalla

Throughout the years, I’ve always projected myself as a pretty introverted and reclusive kid. It was always a challenge for me to take the youthful notion of living like it’s the end of the world and repeatedly living out the mantra “You Only Live Once”. I’m the type of guy who really tends to end up as being part of the background and not really get that much involved. The hard thing about me is that I do want to get involved but there’s just something that is keeping me rooted in the ground despite my efforts. So anyway, I’ll move on before I start boring you by talking about how depressingly boring I am, I’m basically an introverted guy who hates being introverted so I decided that things need to change and I need to take things up a notch. I’ve decided that in college, I would take a different direction in life and this decision would start with me throwing away the chance of being a Lasallite or a Thomasian and risking the possibility of me spending 4 precious years in the town of Los Banos, Laguna. The decision was to pursue my dream of being an iskolar ng bayan. I would spend my freshman year in a dormitory in UP Los Banos and try to transfer to UP Diliman after my freshman year.

            The best and only statement that could describe my initial feelings of my new school then was that I hated the place. It’s not that I had a lot of bad experiences during my first weeks in the campus, it’s just that the place never felt like home. This was the first culture shock I experienced in my college life. I was used to being individualistic but I wasn’t used to all of the people around me being individualistic as well. Most students were also dormers and most actually had the same intention of transferring to a different school so whatever attachment people had with the campus was quite a temporary one and it might have led to the individualistic nature of many students in the campus. The dormitory I stayed in was no different, as it was the time when a number of students and residents in LB were unfortunately killed, raped or pronounced missing, so my mom opted to choose the most reclusive and guarded dormitory in the campus, the dormitory for international students/ graduate students. My dorm mates were mostly from neighboring Southeast Asian countries who had minimal skills in English and actually preferred to keep their circle of friends within their respective nationalities. To wrap it all up, I was really lonely which would have been okay if I didn’t go all romantic and set all these goals for myself. Disappointment was mainly what I was feeling and this disappointment was more on me than anything else.

            I tried to forget most of my outlandish goals and focus on getting good grades and stuff as studying was the only thing I was doing productively at that time. Eventually the first semester ended in a flash and I felt like nothing much would really happen in my freshman year. However, as the second semester started, the air around the campus felt different. Yes, it was obviously cooler because it was nearing Christmas at that time but that change in the air can mainly be attributed to this girl I was incredibly, unbelievably, fabulously (I can’t think of more expletives) drawn to. I’m not going to talk too much about it here because I’m not really out to tell my love story but basically I was classmates with her at most of my subjects and things basically got off from there. As I spent more time with her, I was oddly starting to get attached and drawn to the campus as well. Making friends was also far easier than before for some reason, and for the first time in the campus I had this group of people I always ate lunch and dinner with.  In contrast to how I hated the place in the first semester, the times I spent in the campus during the second semester were the best and happiest times of my life. Despite this, it was too late to decide to stay in LB and I had to push through with transferring to Diliman. In a fortunate string of events however, she eventually decided to transfer to Diliman with me and from that point I did not feel any sadness in leaving the campus.

            So yes, we were successful in transferring, our courses were different but we told ourselves that it wouldn’t be a problem and I was quite optimistic (I was always too optimistic and it caused me to feel shitty a number of times). Diliman was the second culture shock that I would experience. I felt like a legit probinsyano when I first queued up for form 5 printing in Econ. The students were much more posh than I expected and it felt like a lot had changed since I left for Laguna. The student organization I applied for also generally had the same impression on me and the friends I had were mostly my co-transferees and high-school friends. The only saving grace was that I had this (label-less) relationship with a girl I really loved but as relationships go we did have our problems. As much as we tried to keep it the same as before things were quite different and a lot of misunderstandings and disagreements happened and there were periods of time that we wouldn’t meet, talk or text each other and those periods were quite miserable. Honestly, I was quite frustrated to be going through all of this again, feelings of loneliness, awkwardness and alienation I always had as a newcomer in anything.

            Exhausted and depressed, I sat in the lobby of AS and just did a bit of soul searching. As I sat down on the cold floor of AS, I looked around my surroundings and saw a lot people in the same situation as mine. A lot of people were on their own staring blankly and looking quite exhausted like me. Some of the loneliness I felt disappeared as the place felt hauntingly like the song “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. The place felt like introvert heaven and for the first time I was happy at comfortable in being in an introvert. I realized I’ve been pushing myself all this time to be something I’m not, setting all these goals for myself that are in conflict with my true nature of being an introvert. So from then on, just like in LB I decided to go on and just be myself and things began to turn for the good. My relationship with the girl stabilized, I got accepted into the org I applied for and I had higher grades than ever before. Diliman, like LB before, was slowly accepting me and adapting itself to accommodate a person like me.

            So now, I’m an applicant in UP Economics Society and I do hope the organization has a place for a boring person like me. I’m looking forward to finding my home in Econ in this organization. I still choose to be optimistic despite past events and hopefully things will go well this semester. So yeah, ’til next time!

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