It’s 11PM and as I was browsing through Facebook, I saw a blog post shared by the University of the Philippines’ page and a ‘sister’ from my academic organization back in college. Practically obsessed with anything related to UP, I clicked on the link and read the article entitled “Sunflower Stories: The Five Things I Learned in UP” which was authored by Lea Ayuyao.

Seemed like a coincidence but I just got back from UPLB to request a copy of my Transcript of Records and a feeling of nostalgia immediately set in. I suddenly relived the best moments of my student life as a “Iskolar ng Bayan”. But then the happy feeling readily faded when I remembered why I was there in the first place. I had to request for my TOR not as a crowning glory for earning a U.P. degree, but because I needed it to transfer to another school.

No, this is not a feel-good success story, far from it actually. But I’d like to share things I have also learned from UP in retrospect, from an underachieving drop-out’s perspective.

Live the name

If you are like me, I was quite intimidated by the fact that I was going to class with the best high school grads of the country. I was not exactly the academic type in high school so at the back of my mind, I didn’t even deserve to be in the premiere State University. Which is probably why I felt inferior the rest of the way. So don’t make the same mistake I did. If you are in UP, you are meant to be. Once you step in the University, pick up the swag and live the name. Not to the extent of being an A-hole but just enough to make yourself believe that you are ‘that good’ and create a competitive mindset.

Savor the Academic Freedom

This coming school year, I am going to enter my senior year as a Nursing student in a local college somewhere in my home city. And based on my experience, the academic freedom I was used to in UP and in my current school are night and day. So I’m urging you to savor the academic freedom that UP is giving each student in its fold. You are given a choice in everything (most of the time). From class schedules, instructors (in an attempt to avoid terror teachers), academic organizations (or any type for that matter), and plainly letting our voices be heard. Learn to appreciate the fact that student feedback is given some weight and that you are given an opportunity to air your grievances compared to other schools that readily shut you up. Oh, and you don’t have to stand to recite. This is the closest you can get as far as an idealistic atmosphere is concerned.

Don’t be afraid to shift courses

I knew when I was in high school that I was in a love affair with writing. In my UPCAT result letter (or whatever it is called), I was offered to take a course “with any available slot” as I probably didn’t make the cut for the courses I jotted down on the UPCAT form. And so without really thinking about it, I chose a course which was part of the College of Economics and Management where my dad finished his undergraduate studies. I had the urge to shift to Development Communication (DevCom) because it was the closest to a writing course in LB, but due to some people telling me that shifting will actually be a step-down from my first course, my weak-willed personality abandoned my plan. In short, (cliché alert) seek for the course that you know you will love and go from there.

Don’t be shy to try things out

One of my frustrations when I was in high school was I didn’t apply for a junior jock post in a local radio station. I was really, really interested (did I say really already) in becoming a radio DJ. When I went to UP, I heard about the UPLB Jocks which was an organization of students who had an inclination for radio broadcasting and events hosting. I wanted to try out but didn’t, because I was too shy and too afraid to fail. Even when I was given several signs cueing me to pursue it, my fear made me numb to the idea of pushing through with it. I can still remember my Speech Communication teacher asking me if I had prior experience as a radio DJ after I delivered my piece because my voice was very good. That was in 2001. Ten years later, I eventually became a broadcaster in one of Campus Radio’s provincial stations because I knew in my heart that I wanted it badly. What I’m trying to say is, if you are interested in something and there is a venue for you to experience it, by all means do it. There is always a place for your talents in UP, you just have to find the right place to nurture it.

Ahh. I thought I was over the fact that I “officially” left UP 3 years ago. It is one of the most heart-breaking things I had to do. Going back on ground zero just brought back the frustration. But despite that, stepping inside the campus still feels very much like home.


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