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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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Jasmine Gurpido 4 hours ago

LIFE ADVICE YOU NEED TO HEAR WHILE YOURE STILL YOUNG

This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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