So, my first year in College has just ended. It was a scary year, owing to the fact that it was, after all, my first. There were quite a few adjustments made, many in fact. So many things done. So many new people met. Nothing can equal such an experience, no amount of words from people my senior can capture what really is College, in all its essence. And in the same manner, I can’t really leave people who are now about to enter College with a lasting reassurance that it’ll be one smooth ride; you just have to take the wheel, drive on your own and see for yourself.

But amidst all the careful warnings of people who have already gone through such a stage, Freshman Year in College really is all up to you. Actually, LIFE IS all up to you. You decide what kind of ride it’ll be–slow, fast, drag-race, whatever–it’s all up to you. No amount of coaxing or frightening from other people can influence on what you make out of your freshman year, because no matter how much they wring words to your ear, it’s your actions that will justify your choice.

I tried to live two lives in College. There was school life, where the geek inside me lived within the four walls of the library surrounded by books and notes, cramming for an exam; then there’s my home life, where the homebody within me lounged about in front of the PC or the TV gulping whatever food’s available. These two lives mainly emerged from the fact that my school is two cities away, and that everytime I go to it I feel like an entirely different person.

If Hale has a “Tollgate” that separates their celebrity lives from their normal lives, I, on the other hand, have “Quezon Avenue Station” that tells me, “Hey, time to live your other life. Peel off that skin and take on a new one.” That MRT station is a homage to many feelings. Most of the time, I feel anxious within the confines of the station, because the drive to change is always there. It’s coercing me to leave all my home worries behind lest I want to get distracted at school and vice-versa.

But something that could blur the fine line between the two lives I lead is the people that I meet, everyday, as I live such lives. During my first semester, I had a really hard time finding friends at school, maybe because I was too anxious to let go of my past. I never wanted to let go of my carefree High School days with my barkada. That made me not want to get attached to anybody, because I feared that someone else might replace them, and I didn’t want that to happen.

But during the next semester, I found a little comfort in knowing that no matter what, my barkada’s there, and I’m being a little bit unfair to myself if I don’t give it a go with making friends. And so I did. I’ve found friends that I would want to treasure forever. But that’s not to say I’m replacing my barkada or anyone for that matter, they’re just added to my treasure box of life’s little gems. I have two lives, remember?

The downside with having close friends in my situation is the fact that we study in a semestral basis and an “academic freedom” to boot. Which means, whoever I spent the last 6 months with most probably won’t be the same faces I’d interact with for the next 6 months. It’s a pain to say goodbye to such wonderful people, but that’s how things had to be. It’s either you lull in the memories of your past or move on and make friends anew. The system leaves you with no choice. But then again, you can always bump into them one way or the other. At least that’s a consolation.

But, more than anything else, the greatest lesson I’ve learned in College is that I have to be myself all the time. Pretending to be somebody or something else only adds up to the stress of schoolwork when you get home.

When I stepped in College, I told myself I’d take a back seat for a while, since I’d be spending time with people way out of my league. I wanted to be the follower this time, and not the leader. I wanted to be the mediocre mindless student, and not the goody-two-shoe diligent one. I wanted to be the bad-ass noisy classmate, and not the civil, silent one. For once I wanted to be someone other than what people expected me to be. Sure, it was fine for the first few days, having been noticed by the professor every once in a while. But the fun soon wore off. It’s as if the system drove me to live that life I refused to live. There came times when nobody would assume the part of the leader, and I’d force myself to jump in just to save the group. There were times when I wanted to sit around in boredom, but the thought of a next-day exam would be the only thing I could think of. There were times when cracking jokes and insulting classmates put me on a pedestal, but I soon noticed how many of them wouldn’t take me seriously, and I didn’t want that. Maybe there was a reason people expected that of me, because they saw those things in me. They saw something far from what I’ve been projecting all these times, that’s been the root of their expectations.

When you’re in College, you’ll discover yourself. It’s the “outside world” so to speak, especially if you study in a University like mine. In College, you’ll find everything you learned in High School more valuable than ever. In College, you’ll be able to use them to help you in surviving this really difficult phase in your life. But even if you know it’s difficult, having the will power to finish and keeping an eye on that goal (that diploma which is your ticket to your career) will surely earn you what you’ve worked for. Also, don’t forget to pick a few pebbles on your way, they’ll help you find your way back when you’re at the top. And don’t forget that you are weak because you are a person, and the only place where you’ll get strength to battle all those late-night reviews, term papers and exams is from that person high up above.

To the Freshermen (I refuse to be de-labeled as being a freshman) of 2006, welcome to a new life and God Bless you on this wonderful journey! Always remember, never let your schooling interfere with your education, for learning is more than just the lectures inside the four corners of the classroom. ^__^

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