I attended a free three-day seminar this week held by the Mindanao Summer Institute of Journalism and the Titus Brandsma Media Center (a Catholic media education center) that focused on journalism education and critical consumerism.
One speaker that stood out for me was Ms. Angel Ureta. She said, “Don’t believe people when they say ‘your still a student, when you get to the real world, iba na (it’s different),’ because being a student” said Ms. Ureta, “is very real.”
I really appreciated her eloquence at expressing an argument I often find myself in. A lot of people seem to enjoy punishing me as a homeschooler; I’m told that I’m “too sheltered” or that I will be “culture shocked” when I get to college or “the real world”. I know that I will be surprised about things, that I might have a hard time adjusting to college, but don’t all people moving to a new environment experience these?
As I sit in the classroom, waiting for the talk to start after the break, I watch my classmates. They seem to slip in and out of their chairs with so much ease. I try to stand and my hip hits the tiny ledge of a table. I wonder if my new school will have chairs like these. They seem so incarcerating. Culture shock?
Most of the people in the seminar attended as groups; most were college mass communication students or media practitioners. Others like me, were just interested, hoping they could pick something up that they might apply to other parts of their lives, but all of them had come with a companion, a kasama. I was the only one who had gone alone. Despite that, I found that throughout the seminar, I could stand by myself without feeling out of place or self conscious. This gives me courage for the life ahead of me. I’m not being antisocial, but I’m glad that I’ve moved on from the mindset that I need someone with me to give me confidence; that I don’t need a kasama.
I have a habit, especially when it comes to replying to comments on social media, that if I can’t think of anything to say, I shouldn’t. I couldn’t think of anything to say to my classmates that could start a conversation, so I just stayed silent. I made an effort to be approachable, to smile, be polite. Maybe I intimidated people. The girl with a strange haircut attending a journalism seminar by herself.
Those people who don’t scare me about culture shock, tell me to just be myself. They tell me to make friends, but chose; to reach out, but “you don’t have to focus on being ‘cool.'”
As I tried to read my book during the break, I could vaguely hear the people sitting behind me talking about me. I could hear a “Miss…” and a “di man siya ka dungug (she can’t hear).” I stopped reading my book for some reason and they plucked up the courage to modulate their voices.
“Yes?” I said, turning around and trying to look friendly. Just be yourself.