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"I Was Preparing For Graduation This Year, But COVID-19 Happened"

Here are personal accounts from two college seniors.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/delbarriomarvin, frannybalburias

College, they say, is one of the experiences that would shape who we become before we enter the real world. While academics is the priority and is naturally of grave importance, there’s a world beyond it that college let’s us experience. It’s where many of us experience our “firsts,” but it’s also where we get to have a bunch of “lasts” that we wouldn’t get anywhere else.

In a snap though, college—and the rest of the world—as we know it was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic we are collectively facing. Classes were shifted to platforms on the internet, our houses became our campuses, and learning required more willpower and determination that it ever did back when things were “normal.”

It’s especially an unusual experience for college seniors. If you thought they’d have gone through everything college can throw at them, you thought wrong. It was supposedly the last year they get to pull all-nighters for thesis, attend sports games and cheer for their school as a supportive student, and spend times with friends turned families. 

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Two college seniors, Franny and Marvin, share their thoughts on being a senior student in the time of COVID-19.

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Nobody expected for that one normal Monday to be their last day in school.

“I remember my last day of school being a really subpar day, actually.” Franny Balburias, a senior Communication student from Ateneo de Manila University, shares. “It wasn’t one of the best days since it was also a Monday and I had an 8 a.m. class huhu.”

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It also seemed like a regular school day for Marvin del Barrio, a Multimedia Arts senior at CIIT College of Arts & Technology . “It was a Monday which was my 3D Animation class from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Classes in my school are always this long since the subjects are held once a week,” he says. “We were animating a river and a boat.” 

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School life during the ECQ is about attempting to establish a new “normal.”

Franny and Marvin had a somewhat different experience from each other when it came to their school lives during ECQ. Franny’s school went on to adapt to online classes, while Marvin’s opted for suspension of classes.

“My school has suspended classes earlier, but this week, they resumed,” Marvin says. “However, it’s not the typical online classes. Since we are heading to finals, professors just gave the requirements we need to finish until the end of April so our school calendar won’t be affected.”

Everyone, even the professors, had to be patient with one another when it came to making adjustments. “During the first week of the ECQ, [my school] pushed through with classes,” says Franny. “I remembered it being kind of difficult since the set-up of having discussions online wasn’t as engaging as when we would have it in school but nonetheless, the teachers gave it their best effort. After that week, they cancelled online classes and restricted teachers from requiring any homework to pass due to how difficult the situation was for others. I understood why they did it but I guess I was still holding on to that sense of normalcy of my last semester still pushing through.”

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It sucks to miss out on hallmark college experiences, but there are more serious problems to face.

Given the unstable state of COVID-19 cases in the country, there’s a sense of uncertainty revolving around when it’s officially safe to step out and head back to our campuses. This means that, for seniors, majority of their last college experiences have been pushed out of the picture. 

“For Ateneans, we won’t have our last Bonfire and Athletes’ Night. We won’t have our Pabaon from Fr. Jett or our Blue Roast, which are events the seniors have every year to celebrate,” shares Franny. “To top it all off, we’re not even sure if we’ll be having a graduation. I think it was the one I looked forward to the most because it was supposed to be the closing chapter to my college life. It makes me feel very sad. At times I’d choose to reminisce on the previous years by scrolling through old photos since I won’t be getting a last look at my school again.”

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Marvin also feels the same kind of longing for their old life in school. “To be honest, before this happened, back at school I was always telling myself that I can’t wait to go home, but I totally regret it now,” he says. “I was also excited about some subjects I’m currently taking, like my foreign language subject where we are learning to speak Nihongo and write in Katakana. I never thought I would miss school a lot.”

While it’s disheartening not to experience your last moments in college, both know that there graver issues to overcome. 

“Starting out the ECQ, I was very troubled and sad because it took away the normalcy of things and it took away all the experiences I wanted to have as a senior," says Franny. "But I saw how a lot of people—the frontliners who were working day and night to care for the sick, the less fortunate who are struggling every day to put food on their tables, the homeless who are struggling to find a place to sleep, the small business who are doing their best to keep things going—were having the most difficult time and it made me focus my energy on that instead of sulking about the experiences I couldn’t have. With this, I made sure to help in any little way that I could by sharing posts about donations, also donating to those organizations, and to just help spread the love and generosity to anyone that needs it.

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“With regards to my own personal growth, I took the ECQ as a time to get used to how it would be without going to school and to training. I tried to tell myself that this is practice for me when I begin a new chapter of my life. I would have wanted to end my college life and cheer career on other terms but I guess this would be okay, too. It helps me ease into the new things I’ll have to get used to.”

Are you and your batchmates experiencing something similar? Share your thoughts and experiences over at Candy Bulletin.

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Mylene Mendoza
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A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here

"Today, I Won"

I always caught feelings for someone, and hoped so much that one day there could a thing between the two of us. I'm usually the one that makes the effort to buy and/or make cute gifts, chats them every other day, and stays up all night with him.

When I was 16, my childhood crush suddenly came back into my life. We'd constantly send updates to each other, recommend favorite songs and talk even the most random things. He'd even text me as early as 6 to just greet me good morning almost everyday. I hoped so much that when I confessed, he suddenly stopped talking to me.

For short, he ghosted me. Those 6 months I spent talking to him, allotting my time for him, and staying up until 3 am for him - all gone in a simple confession. Although I had a few crushes before him, he's the only one that got me in real pain. It was the kind of pain that I never thought I'd experience. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't believe.

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After 7 years (it happened back in 2017), I thought he came back into my life to stay, but I guess he's just one of the guys who distanced. I felt a complete loser that time. But during this quarantine, everything was different. I caught feelings for someone else, but he treated me with the best kindness yet.

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It happened at 2 am, May 30, 2020, when I impulsively confessed my feelings through messaging him. After saying my feelings, he responded with genuine and kind words. We both even complimented each other. Although the feelings didn't reciprocate, I still found a connection that can't be replaced with any guy.

To my 16 year old self, here I am, 18 and happy. You may have felt that time was the biggest regret and loss, but I'm here to tell you, we won. Today, I won.

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Juliana Rebong 23 hours ago

Why our high school barkada is the best?

Remembering our high school years entails quite a lot reminiscing of the things we all been through when we were younger. You’ve experience a lot of new things during those 4 wonderful years and did most of them with the few people you consider your barkada. And through a series of all the lunch breaks you had together, the walks you took on the way home, and taking the same classes, you never thought you’d survive, you have made your life’s greatest friends.

Here are some of the reasons why your high school barkada is the best:

1. You figured out early teenage life together. The transition one have undergone from being a kid to a teenager wasn’t easy. For a moment you are not sure whether you should have played with your friends during recess or you should have just sat down and ate your food because you were too old for games. But whatever it is you chose to do, having friends who were as clueless as you make everything feel easier because you know, deep down, you’d figure things out eventually. You just need good company.

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2. They were with you during your “jeje“ days. I bet you have pictures taken with Camera360 and Retrica. You also have pictures edited using Pizap with embarrassing captions and you somehow kept some of them so you could have something to post online during their birthdays.

3. They know all your exes. They will never EVER forget the name of an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fling, an ex-crush, and an almost you had. They will remind you of your every questionable love decision but you’ll just laugh anyway while saying “Past is past”.

4. They never judge you. They have welcomed you to their lives when you thought jelly shoes and checkered polos were the bomb! They were quick to have told your teachers that you were not feeling well so you could go home when you really just needed to poop. You tell them every embarrassing story you have and were fine with it.

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5. You can always count on them. From the moment you first fell in love and the moment you first had your heart broken, they were with you. They were with you the moment you lost a parent and at moments when you thought you had nothing. Through every break-up and breakthrough, they were there to be your support system.

6. They are your family. Your high school friend’s family is your own family’s extension. Their parents are like your own. Don’t you feel a little kilig whenever your friend’s parents call you “anak”? And then eventually calling them mama and papa became so natural? I felt that, all the time.

7. They will always be your home. They are your place of refuge and security, the place who offers you their hands when you feel lost and the place you run to when you need saving. No matter how much time and distance separate you, they will be the one’s that you always long for and they are the one’s that you will always return to.

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