Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Summer to End All Summers

This is my very last Summer vacation as an undergraduate, my last one before graduating and entering the so-called real world. It's so clich├ęd, I know, but time really does fly. It kind of blind-sided me, or crept up on me, because before I knew it, my junior year was over, and now I'm a senior due to graduate next year! Where did all the time go? When you're a kid, it seems like there's all the time in the world for everything, and that there's always a next Summer, and another after that, and year in and and year out, it's something I would always look forward to and I would even count down the days until school's out. I remember how, I would actually get lighter skinned over the summer because I didn't have school, and we would have one trip to the beach, but I'd get paler anyway, because we would pretty much stay at home. My handwriting would deteriorate from lack of practice over the break too. And that I'd get so bored living like a bum, watching re-runs of cartoons and gorging myself that I would actually get excited for enrollment, to go back to school, and go on back to school shopping--for new school shoes, new uniforms, a new bag, and new text books! I recall how stoked I would get to find out my section and who my classmates and homeroom adviser were going to be.

But somehow, between then and now, I found myself left just with this one last, and I intend to make it count. It all kind of makes me nostalgic, not just all my Summers past, but the thought of leaving school in general. The transitions from pre-school, grade school, middle school, and high school were all pretty seamless in between vacations, and that makes sense, because my environment never really varied much, and I was with the same kind of crowd of entitled and spoiled suburb kids (I'm not at all ashamed to admit I come from the same strain). But I was entirely uprooted when I went to college at UP Diliman, let's save my UPCAT and freshman year experience for another post, though, as that would drag too long. If it's more fun in the Philippines, then it's harder in UP Diliman and suffice to say, it's been such a roller coaster ride, but I've had (and am having) the time of my life, having adventures and misadventures too. And though my final year in school is still filled with so much uncertainty and doubt, more so what lies beyond, going to UP is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I can say with conviction that it has broadened my horizons beyond my wildest dreams (and I do have rather wild dreams) and has given me a backbone of steel to embark on another journey when I graduate.

But of course, in a sense, that's both in the near or distant future, depending on how you look at it, because a lot can happen until April 28, and I better not count (or discount, for that matter) my chickens before they've even hatched. But going back to my main point (even I get exasperated sometimes by how I meander so much, case in point), this being my last summer, I want to make the most out of it, because I won't have the same luxury when I'm working. (Gasp). Independence is such an exhilaratingly scary thing.

If you've read my introductory post, I mentioned that my junior year was exceedingly, inordinately hectic and just really stressful beyond belief, and for a brief moment, just a split-second really, it crossed my mind to take the Summer off and have a real, honest to goodness, vacation just like the old times, instead of taking a few classes in advance. What if I just relaxed and dropped everything to de-stress, detoxify, and clear my mind, purging myself of all my pent up frustration from the second semester? It's a really big what if, and for one moment in time, I considered the possibility of giving my tired mind some much needed rest, the prospect of a studies free Summer was so tempting. After all, I had already taken Summer classes the past two years, why not give myself a break this time and just live it up and enjoy the last Summer of my relatively carefree undergraduate life?

But alas (or maybe not), my more rational side (my better half) talked me out of it. If I had chosen not to take Summer classes, I would probably be really overjoyed for a little while, but get bored after a week of doing nothing. As much as I lamented giving up my last Summer and devoting my rare free time to studies, the idleness would eventually get to me if I didn't. Also, if I don't take units in advance for this Summer, my academic load will be a lot heavier on the regular semester, and as much as possible I want to lighten it for senior year, so I can focus on my thesis. So it's better to be productive and keep active this Summer, and besides, Mama and Papa outdid themselves this time by planning two family trips in between Summer classes and vacation, so I'm still having a blast of a Summer. There will always be this part of me that will wonder about the possibility of a Summer classes free Summer, but I don't regret it, as I know I'm making the smarter choice. And besides, Summer classes can be really fun. The Summer of freshman year, I took CWTS (Civic Welfare Training Service) 1 and 2 for NSTP (National Service Training Program) at my college, CMC, where we learned all about disaster preparedness and we volunteered at the university radio station, DZUP, and we produced PSA's for an information campaign. I also took PE 2 Duckpin bowling, and it kept me busy and entertained, even if I didn't get strikes very often and mostly got gutterballs. And last Summer I took Italian 10 for my first foreign language elective and STS for my last MST GE. So yeah, my Summer classes have been meaningful and worthwhile.

Anyway, UP offers Summer classes between April and May, and basically they cram a semester's worth of meetings into about a month's time, so I'll have maybe a little more than two weeks left of my Summer before the first Semester. This Summer, I had originally planned to take my Internship or my OJT in advance, so that I wouldn't have to juggle it with the rest of my academics on a regular semester, but my department decided that it wouldn't be allowed for us this Summer, unless there were extenuating circumstances, meaning they would give you a hard time about it. This totally upset all my plans, but after giving it some thought, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble, and besides I really didn't want to spend the Summer working after all, when I had the rest of my life to do that, so in that sense, the BC Department kind of did me an inadvertent favor. So instead, I decided to take an elective along with PI 100 this Summer because only 6 units worth of classes are normally allowed given the limited time during Summer.

PI 100 (Philippine Institutions) is a required course on the Life and Works of Jose Rizal (yes, that's the actual course title) that's supposed to be taken in the last semester of fourth year, but if you get lucky you can take it as early as third year. As for my other elective, that's where I had a bit of trouble, I've mentioned in passing the we have a tracking system in my department where you fill up a tracking sheet with all of the recommended courses, say for broadcast journalism, if that's your chosen track, and even your electives have to go through consultation with your program adviser. My track is a general Production and Performance track, but I have an understanding with my adviser to let me take electives outside of that because I don't want to limit myself, and as long as my BC courses are aligned with my track, then we don't have a problem. But during Summer, not all courses are offered, depending on the availability of professors to handle them, so Summer classes are quite limited. Luckily, an elective I've been interested in since last semester, but I didn't get it, Speech 111 or the Elements of Voice and Diction, was being offered!

Still, there are no sure things in UP, and no matter how much you desire a subject, there is never a guarantee you will get it. We have this Computerized Registration System, where all our student records and information, like grades, and everything else registration related is stored in our personal accounts, and every semester, including Summer, we have Pre-enlistment. Meaning this is where we indicate our preferences and the subjects we would like to take, what schedule we would like to have, based on the offerings for the semester. However, there's a catch. It's PRE-enlistment, meaning it's a preliminary thing, and the subjects you choose are not yours yet. After the pre-enlistment period, there is a batch run, and it works sort of like a lottery, where the CRS system randomly grants slots to subjects, and only people with Graduating or Freshman status/priority have better odds, while everyone else stands the same chance of getting or not getting a subject. There are around two batch runs, so you can get a second chance too. The mechanics are fair and straightforward, it's just that in UP, being a state university, running on government funds, more often than not, the available resources (in this case, number of slots in a class), are not enough to meet the high demand (number of students), and there will always be people who go without. For instance, in a particular course or subject, there is only one professor around available to handle it, and can only accommodate up to 30 students, but there are 60 people who want or need it. Naturally, not everyone can get in. And that's really the harsh reality of UP life, and it teaches us to be really resourceful. So what if a student doesn't get the subjects he/she needs? No need to despair, because as a recourse that student (and I have been that student many a time) can undergo prerog, or teacher's prerogative and manual enlistment, which entails waiting in line for hours on end in the hopes of a slot opening up for you, as well as knocking on faculty room doors and hunting down professors and imploring them to take you in their class. There are many ways to do it, and if you're really desperate, you'd be willing to sing or dance or get grilled by professors on why you deserve a sought after slot. This happens most often in PE classes and MST's, but sometimes even for your own majors you really have to crawl on your belly and kiss boots and charm and sweet talk your way into a class. 

In my second year, I waited in line on standby for a cancellation to free up a slot, from 5 am to almost closing time, and then going back the next day too. Maybe that's really hardcore, but I prevailed, and it taught me that perseverance is the only way to go. Don't take no for an answer, not when it comes to your future! So yeah, I'm always the early bird come enrollment time.

This Summer, I faced off with the odds against me yet again, because PI 100 is always in very high demand with very limited slots, and I had so much competition. I actually pre-enlisted in all available sections and ranked them according to the least in demand, even if it was a 7 am class, because I would take any class I could get. Speech 111's demand exceeded the number of slots, but only by one or two, so while I wasn't confident, I felt I had a decent chance of getting in. I was just holding my breath and praying for a miracle until the first batch run results came out and I got both PI 100 and Speech 111, to my great surprise and relief and happiness! During the Summer, in some instances, students have better chances of getting slots, because there are actually fewer students as many go home to their provinces. But on regular semesters, it's very, very hard to complete your units through CRS alone, at least in my experience, because up until last year, I would get little more than half the number of units I needed, but now that most of my subjects are majors, and only a few electives, I've been more fortunate.

CaptureBut CRS also gave me another pleasant surprise, and that was Graduating status and priority! That's why I got all that I wanted. Oh, joy. Another privilege of this status is that the first day of enrollment is reserved. Which brings me to today. Yes, just today, this very same day, was the first day of enrollment for Summer 2012. If you're up to date on my entries, you would know that I've barely had enough time to recover from the second semester, because we left for Ilocos right after Finals week, and when we got back to Manila, we had a lot to take care of, and then it was enrollment time again in the blink of an eye, so I wasn't really eager to go back yet, when I hadn't even had enough down (bum) time. Ilocos doesn't count, because even when we went on a vacation, we had all these activities.

But, I had to face reality and last night, I unwillingly prepared my battle gear for enrollment. I made sure my laptop and iPod were both fully charged, so I wouldn't get bored while waiting in line, I prepared all my files and documents, and I asked our helper to prepare a lunch box for me because it's been my experience, that I couldn't leave my place in a line, even if it was lunch break because I wouldn't have a place to go back to. And of course, I prepared my outfit of the day. I was debating between just a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, but lately I've been feeling the Summer (flirt) fever, so I went with my blue tube-top romper and my favorite green sandals.

So today, I woke up at 5:15 to be at UP by 7 am. As I've detailed in my previous post, it takes me an hour and fifteen minutes to get ready, add a thirty minute travel time by car, so my sister (who also has Summer classes) and I left the house at 6:30 this morning. I haven't driven the car in 2 weeks, so I was feeling a little jumpy (or maybe it was the extra strong cup of coffee I had). It's the first day back from the long holiday, and Commonwealth traffic was back to normal, meaning buses and jeepneys stopping anywhere and motorcycles zipping left and right, putting me on edge, so early in the morning. We made it to UP safely and I dropped my sister off at her building and I went straight to mine. As usual, I was the first one there. Enrollment doesn't start until 8:30, but by then there is usually already a line, and I wanted to finish within the day, as much as possible. Even though I didn't need any more additional subjects, there is again never a surety that enrollment will go smoothly because enlistment is just one part of the process. There are advisers and long lines at payment centers to contend with. And in the BC Department, this is especially true, as most advisers arrive around noon, and you can't proceed with your enrollment until you get their signature on the necessary forms.

There was hardly a soul in the whole of CMC, apart from the janitors and a few of the Administration employees who were setting up for enrollment, and the departments weren't even open yet. I brought my camera with me just in case and got a picture of the empty hallway. The Journalism Department has a really big corkboard, it's more a cork-wall, while our own department's is more modest.    

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And yes, cam-whoring ensued. It could not be helped. I was by myself. So here's a little Face of the Day, which is what I detailed in my previous post about my makeup routine,except the lipstick I used here is the Code B lipstick in OR 201 from Etude House, which is a nude-ish, orangey pink coral shade, Like Nyx Pumpkin Pie except it's more on the pink side. My hair's a little messy though, I barely ran a brush through my hair this morning.

Moving on, the Dilnet (UP internet) signal was pretty weak outside the corridor of the BC Department, and I didn't know the password to the Journalism Department's Faculty Wi-Fi, though I tried every combination I could think of. So I just sat there, turned up the volume on my iPod and started singing out loud to pass the time. I was singing pop songs, even romantic ballads, and a little before 8, our Department Chair Ma'am Rose arrives, in the middle of my singing. I greeted her an awkward Good Morning. Joke's on me. Singing I Finally Found Someone and Le Wild Department Chairperson appears.

After a while, some of my classmates began showing up and it was really nice catching up and comparing classes and ranting about petty stuff. I love them for that. But yeah, eventually the department rounded us up and implemented a first-come, first-served policy (YAY ME) because as expected, most of the advisers were calling in late. It didn't take long, just about five minutes, to get my forms approved and I headed downstairs for validation and assessment, where it took almost thirty minutes because there was a computer glitch, or so it seemed, but the staff just overlooked a small detail, and that was the cause of the delay. Sometimes, though the automation and computerized system has made enrollment a lot more convenient, whenever new applications, let's call them that, are introduced, it's hard for the older staff to keep abreast of the technology, and I really mean no offense by this, it's just that I sat there for over thirty minutes, watching them grumbling at the computer, refreshing and refreshing the page, and asking for help from their superiors, but not being able to troubleshoot, and then it turns out they just didn't select "Summer 2010" and that's why my assessment and validation got stalled. I don't blame them, it's just that the technology's upgraded and they're still the same, still used to the old ways, finding it hard to keep up with the latest in CRS. We all just try to do our best. Eventually, they figured it out, they were even asking me if I tampered with my account, when there's not much you can do from the student end, so it just got pretty trying on my patience.

I understand that we all came from a long holiday, but I was hoping for better preparation. I can hope, can't I? But then I encountered technical difficulties again when I went to the cashier's office. The cashier's office used to be located near the Shopping Center, but it's undergoing renovation, so it transferred temporarily to another building. Fortunately, it was close to my college and there were vacant spaces to park my car. I got there at around 10 am and there was already a long line. There were about 8 counters or tables set up, but only 3 were working, while the rest were still being configured and so on. My sister met up with me there, and our parents brought our payment. Another downside is that only cash or manager's checks are accepted, no credit cards, and in the financial bracketing scheme of UP that goes from A to E, I think, from least to most in need of additional subsidy, we belong to Bracket A, and we pay 1500 per unit, so even if this Summer I only took six units, that's already a minimum of PhP9000, excluding miscellaneous fees and other charges, and between us two sisters, that racks up a total of almost PhP20,000 in one go, and it's not safe to carry around that amount in cash, so our parents normally take the cash to us only when we're already at the cashier to pay as a precaution. Yet another downside, you have to pay the EXACT amount because they didn't have any change. I really wish credit cards would become available as a payment option, that way there would be less hassle. I heard it was in the works, but as of now, nothing yet. Hopefully before I graduate I will experience hassle free payment... After an hour or so, it was finally our turn, and after shaking out my wallet for an exact fifty cents, we got our Form 5's and were officially enrolled for Summer 2012, at last!

Relatively speaking, to finish enrollment in half a day is already a feat, and all things considered, enrollment went better than expected. And on the way out of UP, we passed by University Avenue and all the sunflowers were already in full bloom! They were so lovely. I didn't get to take a picture because I was driving, though. They're blooming right on time for this year's graduates...next year they'll be blooming for us.

After that we stopped by a gas station before heading home because I got the tires checked. Remember our near accident on Easter Sunday in one of my previous entries? Well after that I noticed my tires were looking a bit soft, turns out they needed a little inflating. As a driver, you really feel a difference when you drive and there's something amiss with the car. Well, anyway we headed home for lunch and I took some more pictures afterwards. Here I've pretty much eaten my lipstick, and I put my hair up back in the cashier's office because it was so hot there. Thank goodness my outfit was light and breezy.

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I survived. This is now the ninth enrollment under my belt. Two more to go! Now that I'm done with enrollment, I'm actually a little bit excited for classes on Friday. But in the meantime, I'm going to try and squeeze in a few more entries before things pick up the pace again.

One last note, my grades are finally all in, and I now have closure for the second semester, at last! I'm glad to say all my efforts paid off, but now I'm ready to move one!

Let the last Summer of my life officially begin!

1 comment:

  1. hello po Ate. Wala po bang block/section sa UP?

    ReplyDelete

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