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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
Candy Staff Writer
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A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here
Eren Rodriguez 22 hours ago

This is a drawing and a poem I’ve made for a summer love. Our time together was short-lived but the feelings were not.

“God’s Gift”

On a platform we stand

Faces seen all in a blur

Relentless searching led by a spur

To find someone, to feel something

Aren’t we fools to waste away time?

To look for one man’s treasure

Somewhere as ephemeral, as fragile

As a bond built in crime

But aren’t we just like every weary heart?

Hoping for an oasis

In the midst of the desert

Wanting to quench our thirst

Aren’t we all like frosted windows

Of old and battered houses on winter?

Wishing for the sun to give us warmth

To melt the facade so we can show what the inside is made

Aren’t we maven pretenders?

A Casanova? A Temptress? Who made us this way?

A sly fox? A ruthless hunter?

Let down the walls, It’ll be okay

Rushed for a hug, now no hesitating

Engulfed by a sense of bliss or was it longing? Eyes wide-open,

Stepping on a quicksand I embraced the fall into the deep end

Gazed at you lying there unaware With you, found something rare I swear

Realization dawning as loud as a thunder

As the Beating of your heart put me into a deep slumber

Waking up from this reverie

Truth slapped me back to reality

Two worlds so different, now I see If only I could I’d be anything and anyone you need me to be I’m the ludicrous clown, you see

Thought if I ruin it first I’d be free

From the doubts brought by my own insecurity I was so wrong,

What a tragicomedy Brought by the month of April

We rushed the ticking of clock to May Hands interlocked

Weaved skin to skin on a rainy day But when June came to say hello, all went dark grey

What was once there ceases to exist Like the wilting of a flower

Once so beautiful, so full of life Now turned into dust by death’s kiss

Unbounded joy brought by your presence

Paralleled with the perennial ache of your absence Yearned for and offered seventh heaven

Now the heart weeps for evanescence

A mirage, to be the fair maiden The sorrow to find out I’d end up our own villain

But all’s well for you are but a distant dream Gamaliel, You are, I knew it from the very beginning .

Written by me, the one-shot story

Coffee is about a girl who used to cherish moments with someone in a cafe. Sometimes, a simple drink can leave an imprint on someone's mind. ____________________________________________

Coffee

It's been a year since my boyfriend and I broke up. I love him and he loves me too but things just didn't worked  the way it should be. Now I'm heading at the cafe where we started and ended. I have no choice but to go there after all it was made up of both happy and sad memories. But that's life , right? We can't be happy all the time. Challenges come and hearts can break. But it doesn't just end there.

"One signature coffee , please." I said as I ordered from the cashier.

"What size?" she asked.

"Small." I said.

Then she took my payment and I headed towards the seat near the window. A window seat.... for two. The cafe was surprisingly full tonight unlike the past few days.

Again, I have no choice but to sit on that window seat. It is where we sit often. It is our seat. Our place. There are a lot of couples at the cafe and wow I'm alone. There's a part of me which says you should be happy because he's not the only guy in this world. Another part of me says you're still hurt so don't pretend to be happy. The truth is , I am both happy and sad.  I'm happy because we're both free and we can focus more in our careers. But I'm sad because I'm not the other half of his heart anymore. I'm sad because I let him go even though I still love him. I'm sad because I can't see him. I'm sad because I can't share this relaxing coffee shop where we can chill with the aromatic smell of the coffee.

"Small signature coffee?" the waitress said as she serves my coffee.

"Yes. Thank you." I said.

"Since you're a regular customer here, we would like to give you this item for free." the waitress said. She handed me a purple journal with the name of the cafe on it and a pen.

"Oh thanks." I said .

"Enjoy your coffee!" she said.

I took advantage of using the freebies from the cafe. A window seat is also a bonus in inspiring me to write something. While sipping my coffee my brain and my heart began to function smoothly.

And so I wrote: My coffee has been cold lately, I can't feel anything after taking a sip and there's no heat to leave a pain on my lips. And it was a relief. But then, I remember one thing about sipping a cold coffee instead of a hot one: cold coffee doesn't leave you any marks when you sipped it, just like a blunt feeling. But a hot coffee will leave you a remarkable pain from the heat which reminds you that you are alive to feel....

I closed the journal and stared at the window. He was the coffee. The hot coffee. No matter how our breakup hurt me, he left me a mark and a lesson to learn. A hot coffee can be a challenge too or an obstacle. They all made you feel that you are alive. That you can go on with your life. You can still stand up. Love taught me to move forward. He taught me to be stronger. He is love.

Belley Marie 22 hours ago

WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A BROKE FANGIRL/FANBOY

One of the proudest things as a fan is the feeling that you are part of their growing fandom and stardom. From streaming their songs online, watching their music videos, TV guestings, collecting photocards, albums, lightsticks, attending to their concert and fan meetings surely, you're a fan! But there's a problem, MONEY.

It's really heartbreaking when you hear that members of your favorite band are coming and their concert is just around the corner but here you are thinking of how to sell one of your kidneys just to go to their concert (kidding).That no matter how much you try to save, it will never be enough for a ticket because you are only a student who has limited resources or if you're an adult, you have bills to pay. So joining a "team bahay" livestream is your last resort, but sometimes even those links don't work!

Of course if there's team bahay there's also "team airport/ team labas", fans who waits at the airport hoping to see their idols upon their arrival. How we wish we could also attend and be part of it, something like shouting their names, fanchants then cry out of happiness while waving their lightsticks or banners. What a concept isn't?

Hey, cheer up! being broke doesn't make you any less of a fan. Know that there are other ways to support and love them. For sure our idols have the same and equal love to us no matter what "team" we belong (team concert, team airport/labas and team bahay).Maybe for some people, they might think we are being overly dramatic without knowing that for us fans, their existence itself and music saved us and made us happy once in our lives. -Gwy June 16,2020

Gwyneth Bacani 23 hours ago
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