ast week, I got the chance to meet my students who are already studying in Manila. I was elated and inspired since despite their busy schedule they took the time off from their studies to meet me.
Upon hearing their stories, I realized how difficult it is to be a student coming from the provinces. Aside from making sure that they are able to maximize the quality education that they wish to pursue miles away from home, they need to hurdle various challenges to attain the quality education they aspire.
One of the things they shared was homesickness. This has been common among students of their age coming from various provinces. This circumstance can both be an inspiration for them to keep on striving or it could possibly drain them emotionally. But what amazes me is the level of grit these students are having, rising up to the challenges they experience and still striving for excellence.
Socially, I also realized that language seems to be a challenge to these students most especially if there are only few students who speak their language. As one of our alumni would say, there were times that he wanted to lock himself in his room because he was tired speaking English or even Filipino. He added that sometimes, while he can cope with their language, there seems to be something unnatural and awkward about the idea of trying hard to speak someone else’s language.
However, they also realize that by trying to adapt to the differences that they experience they are given a great advantage as to their level of cultural awareness and diversity of people they interact with, which can be of great help in their future careers.
Financially, on the other hand, it seems quite of an adjustment as well since studying in a place far from home requires a lot of additional expenses aside from the tuition that their parents pay. For one their payment for dormitories, their plane fare when they wish to spend some vacation time back home, and even with their food. They have observed that the cost of living in Manila is definitely higher and would require them to spend more for their food purchases.
This allows them to be thrifty and perhaps more discerning of how they are going to use their money. It may be a valuable lesson that they can learn, especially when the level of inflation is quite high just as what we are experiencing now.
In my limited yet valuable interaction with them, I am very fortunate to witness firsthand the level of growth that they have achieved in a short amount of time. I realized that the kind of education that we are providing our students not only prepares them intellectually but also providing them the necessary skills for them to thrive and flourish especially when the environment they are in is unfamiliar.
However, one of the questions that lingers in my mind is, “Do our students really need to go to other places just to get the quality education they aspire? When will be the time that the education that we give in the city becomes at par with the educational services that other schools provide?”
Clearly, the very reason our students’ preference to go outside of the city for a cost shows a disparity in the level of our educational systems. Solving this gap may be far from reality. What we can do as educators is to provide our students with the life skills and competencies necessary for them to make decisions and prepare for life’s challenges so that wherever they are thrown to a challenging situation, they’d be able to transcend from it.