10 Things I’m Glad I Did in College

The four years of my life when I was both an adult and a kid.. Let’s be honest, I still am, and I guess most of us are. But for us, this is the part of our lives that school becomes both heaven and hell. We try new things, of course we learn new things, and we do new things. This time we had a say on what to do, we were making our own choices (hopefully this is true). Be it our course, our school, and everything else that follows. There are some choices we end up regretting, and there are some that we never will, and then there are some that simply just happened beyond our control; that’s college for you.

Here are the 10 Things I’m Glad I Did in College, in no particular order.

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  1. Night Classes

Not that I’m a night person, I even consider myself as a morning person; but this choice, be it by accident or not, gave me an opportunity to experience yet another new environment. As if the entirety of college wasn’t new enough, this literally gave a new light (well, less really). The building I was in, the SDA (School of Design and Arts), felt a lot emptier, it became quieter, and somehow brought in new people as well.

I met professors who had to work a different job, which is exactly the reason why they had the night shift. I met a classmate who worked as a tattoo artists throughout the day, I’ve also met a classmate who already had a child, a classmate who had insomnia and thinks better at night, a professor who had to take care of his four year old kid during class, a professor that preferred a more tired audience, a classmate who enjoyed the city lights from the view of our building, and many more.

Besides the change of atmosphere, and the fact that I believe I worked better and think better where it’s quiet, it also allowed me to understand and appreciate people’s background and their stories, I’ve enjoyed my night classes and I’ve enjoyed their company.

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  1. Library Time

So what’s my story? Why did I end up having night classes myself? Well, the first time was an accident. When you get to college, you fight for your schedule, and you’ll often hear these words: “First come, first served.” And I was definitely not first. At one point, I ended up having to get night classes and one single morning class; let me make this clear for you; I had a one hour class at 8am, and my next class was for three hours and wasn’t until 6pm. Yes, I had 9 hours, I repeat, 9 HOURS to kill.

You can imagine this could have been a time where I could go home, but no, I live far and traffic was horrible. And yes, sometimes I had the pleasure of accompanying my friends to places or spending my days napping, but most of these days were me spending my time in the library; and I’m thankful for that.

The library, this marvellous library, my college has provided us with aisles and aisles of books that I had the pleasure of devouring. The first few times, I went there and picked up a book just to entertain myself, but pretty soon it was my curiosity and my growing need to know more that kept me coming back.

I went through the art books there, and once I finished that I remember moving on to art history, after that I started getting curious about architecture so I went for that particular shelf, then I went for fashion design, cinematography, history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, poetry, books about classical music, books about dying civilisations, religion, languages, and on and on the list goes.

My time spent in the library was quiet, but in that silence I had the opportunity to learn from hundreds of voices through all those hours of reading.

  1. Sitting In

Okay, I would like to clarify that for the entire time I didn’t just stay in the library. There were days I decided to learn in a typical classroom as well. Sure, this was a chance to hang out with my friends and all who were taking those classes, but even though that was the initial purpose of sitting in, it benefited me more than I thought.

I’m glad my friends invited me often to sit in, because it was either I learned something new, because it was a class not related to my course or I became more ready for when I would take that class myself because I learned from a different professor.

In a classroom where you have decided to sit in, you have to realize how privileged you are to be there. Let me explain, you are in a classroom where you are not going to be graded in, you are in a classroom you are not required to participate in, you are simply in a classroom and yet have this opportunity to listen.

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  1. Make Friends from other Courses

Sitting in to classes I wasn’t scheduled to be in also gave me the opportunity to meet people I also wasn’t scheduled to meet. Let’s call it fate or anything else, but meeting people from other courses involved me in yet another chance to school myself differently.

I met someone who was from music production, learned how complicated music can be and what it was like to study it, not just listen to it. I also met a few people from industrial design, culinary, photography, fashion design, and management. I also met a lot of people from architecture, not just in my college but from another college as well, UP Diliman to be exact; and this was an entirely new world for me because besides the fact I didn’t know how demanding this course was, learning from it from people belonging to a different school was a different experience as well.

Much like reading a book, you get to learn from these new found friends and build somewhat this line of connections from all sorts of places; your very own aisle of memories in your brain’s library. And you get to take a hold of them, learn from them again when you need to. Because of these people, I also began to have a stronger sense of appreciation for different fields. Plus, this makes a lot of interesting stories, collaborations, and reunions someday when you’re all building your careers after college.

  1. Listen to Professors

This is probably the most obvious thing you can do when you’re in college, but allow me to explain myself. You see, you’re going to get a mix of professors; some are going to give you a lot of tasks, some are going to give more lectures than others, some might not even attend your class often, some will make your life easy, some will encourage you, and some will challenge you. All of this, you will encounter, and I’m happy to say I was fortunate enough to have professors that truly mold me.

I’ll share to you a particular one. I wish I could share and name each one of them, I think there are about 10 professors; maybe they deserves their own entry someday.

There was a professor who challenged me, and oh how I am so fortunate to have had this one. I could call it taunting, I could call it pushing me to my edge, but no, this professor challenged me and without her I think I wouldn’t have appreciated the value of work, time, and perseverance as much as I do now. She questioned my paper, questioned my choices, disagreed with my most sure and well thought out proposals and told me to think of another. She did this over and over again and I’ll be honest, I got frustrated. I was confident with my delivery, I was proud of it! But the more this happened, the more I realized that even though I strongly believed that I was right and that I felt that what I did was enough, it gave light to where my flaws were.

You see, you can be stubborn about your work, you can choose not to listen, but she made me look back and recollect myself. It was as if she knew I could do better, but she needed me to get there on my own. And you can imagine how satisfying it was to finally hear her say these few simple words: “That’s what I’ve been waiting for, I’m glad you finally got it.”

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  1. Conferences and Seminars

I’ll let this one speak for itself. Do yourself a favor and invest in attending conferences and seminars. These events aren’t just created to educate you; these events will motivate you, encourage you, and inspire you in your craft. Imagine learning a lifetime’s worth of lesson by someone who actually lived it at a time where you are just beginning yours? So attend a seminar because it’s for your career, attend one because it’s your hobby or your passion, attend one because you’re curious, or attend one simply because you have the time.

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  1. Be Part of A Project You’re Not Part Of

Wait, what? You have to understand that I just mean that I was part of projects that aren’t even mine. This will happen eventually in my course. Being a Multimedia Arts student means there’s going to be multimedia productions that need multiple talents and multiple help. So give what you can give, get what you can get.

If a friend needs someone to design a poster, give a helping hand, be it just because she or he is your friend or you want exposure. If a friend of yours needs an extra actor and you feel like you’re the talent the film needs, go for it. If a friend needs a model to shoot for a photography class, go ahead, you will have a lot of possible profile pictures now for your social media accounts. A classmate of yours needs an entire month of help because this involves hours and hours of shooting and editing but you’re busy with your own work and you’re both dying on the inside? Hey, why not?

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  1. Croo Productions

You meet certain people in your college life. People that will change you, people who will grow with you, people you will learn to love and come to realize are meant to be part of your life.. And then you meet people like my friends.

I met them at the first day of school. Literally they’ve been with me from the start of my college life and I’ve been part of theirs. What makes them so special is that they grew with me. Probably 95% of my classes were with them, this includes the sit-ins I was talking about. When I talk about collaborations, we study together most of the time and we do this almost every project. We recycle each other, one gets to be the actress, one directs the music, one gets to be the cameraman, one illustrates and does the graphics, one makes the script (well, we usually put a little bit of everyone in that), one does the editing, one stays up and the other one takes a shift in keeping company the one staying up, and one buys the pizza for the sleepover.

We’re a great team, and these are just some factors as to why they were great. We each supported each other, and we were comfortable enough to criticize each other as well, and I think that’s important in college; to have someone who will be there for you and who understands all the things on your plate and be able to honestly tell you if it’s good or bad. Someone to either say, “I’ll be here for you, buddy!” or sometimes it’ll be, “I feel you, buddy.” (Side note: To be perfectly honest, we talk more explicitly than this, but let’s not get to those stories.)

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  1. Play a Sport: Powerlifting

Something I thought I was never ever going to do in my life. I wasn’t fit, and I never really had a sport unless you would considering all those kid stuff I do a sport; I never really competed in one and or have been part of a team. It was a whole new experience for me and my team, the awesome Gayanes Gorillas, took me in and trained me.

My coach, coach Bert, was thankfully so patient with me. Again, I had no other experience with sport besides this, so it was a jump from zero to ten really quick. But I loved that I was challenged, I enjoyed waking up early and going to the gym to train. I made a lot of new friends, from different schools and even made friends with people older than me, which benefited me greatly as a college student; learned a lot from them. And of course, let me be honest, I started getting fit and I was thankful for that too. I learned how to juggle my academics along with competitions, big or small, and I started prioritizing my health.

Although now I’m no longer competing as a powerlifter, I still have the same principles and disciplines I learned by having a sport, plus I swear it feels really different when your body’s active mentally and physically.

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  1. DIY Business: Paper Pirate

I started a small business when I was in college. It actually started when I was still in high school, I changed the name several times but finally decided to name it Paper Pirate and really invest in it during college. This deserves its own entry; I’ll write one soon on how to start one, but for now, here’s a gist:

It started out, in high school, wherein I sold graphic shirts with my own design in them, I did it because I was saving for something big. Luckily I had supportive friends and classmates, and also teachers. Next was when I got in college and I decided to sell stickers on the side as well for extra cash (a girl’s gotta eat) this was a strange transition at first because now I was joining bazaars; everything was DIY (do it yourself).

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I never realized how time, effort, work, and all this played along the background before the booth was set up; once it does though, another load of work comes in. And I resurrected my small business during my thesis year. Yes, I said it, during my thesis year. So you can imagine I was juggling this and that, a lot of all nighters. But I can say all of it was worth it. It kind of gave me this permission or reassurance with myself that I’m capable of handling two or three things at once; and until today, as you can see, I’m still investing on this small business. It’s not even a small business anymore; it’s more of my pen name, brand, and advocacy. And I think starting it as early as college (or high school), can benefit you in the long run. Try it yourself. Do it yourself.

Be it you’re reminiscing about your time in your former college or you’re about to enter the great unknown, take a deep breath before you enter those doors for the first time. Realize this opportunity you have, appreciate all it has to offer and remember that what defines you is what you do in the process of becoming a brand new person when you walk out of there. Remember that these people around you are here for their own reasons, but you are now part of their lives and they are part of yours. Live out these years to the fullest and tell yourself that you will make this a chapter worth remembering.

TIP JAR: Send Some Love!

As simple as a tip of $1 you, my dear reader, would be supporting me, Paper Pirate, in making more art, writing more content, and creating more learning materials for everyone! This would mean so much to me, and I will be forever grateful for your kindness and generosity.

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Paper Pirate

Paper Pirate (Mary Cruz) is a teacher by day, artist by night, and an entrepreneur in between. Inspiring others to keep making art and taking on adventures. The paperpirateship.com is the official site and blog of Paper Pirate, showcasing the art and illustration of Mary Cruz.

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