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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 April) – Recently, I had the opportunity to briefly talk with a prospective student at our university who was waiting in the hallway to take her entrance exam. During our conversation, I learned that she had traveled a long distance from her hometown just to be in the city where our school is located. She also mentioned that if she passed the exam, she planned to live in a boarding house, which is a common practice in the Philippines.

Do you wonder if she is ready to get homesick? Yes, she does.

It is an undeniable fact that many Filipino college hopefuls see great opportunities when they leave their homes—whether from their municipalities, provinces, or barrios—and move to the city, aiming to immerse themselves in a diverse urban setting. This shift not only provides them access and an edge to better educational institutions but also exposes them to a variety of career paths as well as social and cultural encounters, enabling them to adapt to and appreciate the transition.

I am consistently impressed by the tenacity and mindset that Filipino students display in their pursuit of the quality education they rightfully deserve, despite the magnitude of sacrifices it demands (or risk the feeling of being in quicksand), even if it means being physically away from their loved ones.

I remember my classmates who are now “grad-waiting.” I have listened to their compelling stories and challenges. One challenge that is running through my mind right now is “homesickness,” defined by Oxford dictionary as “a feeling of longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.”

Through my interactions with my classmates, I have learned riveting narratives—such as an eldest daughter yearning for her parents’ tangible love while dreaming of wealth and stability for her family, fervently believing that life may be hard but there will always be hope; or a youngest sibling striving to prove her independence while still relying on family support and acknowledging that it is better not to confine herself to societal pressures; or a middle child who spontaneously craves attention or comfort, like the comfort of home-cooked meals, among others.

Their experiences have made me realize how daunting it can be for students coming from municipalities, provinces, or barrios, while also appreciating their upright dealings, likewise the efforts born out of love for their families, and reminding me that the most valuable aspects of life are not the objects we can possess but the quality of time and the connections we build with loved ones.

More than ever, I hope for my classmates and those individuals who can relate to them to feel the sense of being at home again—the scent of home, no matter how fleeting. And to achieve their dreams amidst the waves of uncertainty.

(Jhon Steven C. Espenido, 23, is from Surigao City. He is an AB English Language student at Surigao del Norte State University.)

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