7 major things I learned in UP
1 High school/elementary credentials don’t really matter.
I was this math nerdiac and melancholic literary writer back in elementary and secondary school. I spent most of my childhood finding the value of N more than brushing the hair of a Barbie doll. I thought I was good enough, but I was wrong. Every bit of who I used to be was diminished and altered during my stay in the University of the Philippines. I learned that everything I accomplished in high school is just a part of my past and that I should not settle with the knowledge I had. A great architect and professor once told our class: “You should unlearn everything you’ve learned because you should never stop learning.” UP taught me: Always keep your feet on the ground, never become too full of yourself. There will always be someone greater than you, there is always something you must learn. Each day is a chance to become better than yesterday. Never stop growing.
- You will meet people who don’t share your beliefs. Live with it.
One of the best things that happened to me in UP is being able to meet different people from different corners of human existence. I used to think that I should always make people believe in what I believe is true, defend my beliefs and prove them wrong. I have figured that even if knowledge requires belief, belief is necessary but still not sufficient for knowledge. My point: We have different backgrounds based on where we came from, but that doesn’t mean that one is wrong and one is right. The constancy of the variation of thoughts and belief systems is what makes life amazing, exciting, intriguing. Never judge a person based on his/her religion, race, and social status. I have understood in a deep and constructive manner that every person around me is way more than who I think they are. To know them deeper is not compulsory, but to understand where they are coming from is essential.
- It’s OK to cry, but you should cry productively.
I’ve honestly lost count of the days when I felt I could no longer endure the physical pain and mental stress of being in UP. There were times that I went home feeling lost while holding a blue book of doom with a red flashing mark of failure. There were days that I did nothing but stare at my computer, waiting for the SketchUp bug splat to fix itself. I can still remember when I accidentally formatted my flash drive containing the only file I have for my design class. I cried in front of my mom, devastated and frustrated. I learned that it’s totally normal to cry because you are human, not a machine. You should cry your frustrations, depressions, insecurities away until you run out of tears, but you should cry productively. Face that computer again—work and work while sobbing. My journey in UP taught me that if you want to be sad, be the most powerful sad person. Help yourself during times of failure. Fail, cry, and stand up. Tears shall remind us that some things are worth enduring; nothing great comes easy.
- Learn to be alone, then appreciate that you are actually not alone.
Spending my first year of college in UP Baguio, I must say, was one of the most memorable events in my life. I was lucky to have very supportive parents who let me live 246 kilometers away from them. I met amazing and artistic people from fine arts and I spent my year with them figuring out how to actually live away from home. That’s when I found my home away from home. Transferring to Diliman and shifting to architecture a year later helped me strengthen my understanding of independence. In UP, it’s normal to eat lunch alone especially if you have an 11:30-1 class. It’s normal to run alone, catching your breath, going to AS from Chem, trying not to be late. It’s normal to walk alone, contemplating the broken chicken feet sculpture in front of Vargas Museum and then appreciating that it’s actually an artistic rendition of a tree mimicking the other trees around it, and not merely chicken feet. In UP, you learn to depend on yourself. But at the end of the day, you’ll return to your home college or tambayan, wave to your friends and share stories, puns, and hopeless jokes with them. Hearing their laughter, seeing them giggle despite your dumb corny puns, feeling their warm, honest hug during the moments you need them, will help you realize that even if you’re dealing with your own UP life, alone, just like everyone else, you are never alone.
- Stop fooling yourself about “naptime.” Just go to sleep and reenergize.
I’ve lost count of the times I told myself I’d nap for two minutes but ended up sleeping for hours. We all say sleep is for the weak, but in reality, we come to school weak because we haven’t had enough sleep. One important thing I learned is that health is golden wealth. We should take care of ourselves and practice not to procrastinate and cram; or at the very least, be the healthiest crammer possible. UP will drain your energy, but again, you’re not a machine, you deserve to reenergize like a human.
- There are people who will question your capabilities. Listen to them.
Being in UP is about challenging yourself and living beyond your limitations. There were times that I thought I’d exhausted all my efforts, but at the end of the day I still missed a lot of considerations. I could have done so much better than what I had produced. I learned that with the help of amazing professors, no work is perfect; you may have finished your project, but it is always a work in progress. Same with our skills. We, as individuals, are works in progress. The peak of our capabilities should not end with a bunch of uno written on our transcripts, nor should we disregard these capabilities and give up on ourselves just because we encountered cinco. I learned that the people who question my capabilities are the people who really care: They were sent by God so I could learn not to give up on my skills, to never give up on myself.
- You are in UP for a reason.
When people asked me where I was studying, I always said, “In Diliman,” or “Near Central.” I was never proud to be one of the “Iskolars ng Bayan” because I thought I didn’t deserve to be in UP. I learned that I was in UP for a reason—not just to acquire a bachelor’s degree but also to become somebody I never thought I could be. I was in UP to meet people who have extraordinary visions in life and work with them for the betterment of the country, little by little; to become an inspiration to my younger cousins, younger neighbors, and younger strangers I met online; to become part of the working young professionals who will work not just for the sake of earning but also to live beyond the norm of living, who will work hard to contribute to society and become relevant and useful.
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Kristine Mae D. Ledda, 24, is a 2017 architecture graduate of UP Diliman.
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