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Campus Culture: UP Through the Eyes of a Freshie

So far, my freshman year at the University of the Philippines (UP) has proved to be a colorful collection of awe-inspiring experiences. Even after nine months, I still can’t believe that I am attending my dream university!

Excited Kim Chu arriving at University of the Philippines

You may get overwhelmed just by walking around. The campus is so massive, you’d need a jeep to go to your classes. Thankfully, UP has Ikot and Toki jeeps —aptly named in Tagalog—which go around the university. Freshie pro-tip: Familiarize yourself with the jeepney routes and don’t panic when the Ikot jeep goes out of the campus. It’ll eventually go back in.

Academics and time management

Student life in UP is downright demanding. Sometimes, all requirements are due the same day. You might have three exams consecutively (hey, it happens!). Although back in my high school, we weren’t afraid of having six exams in one day. All-nighters are inevitable and due to our procrastination, we often cram our papers and requirements. This is why time management skills should be developed.

For me, general education (GE) subjects are the heart of the university. Compared to the three major subjects I’ve been “blessed” with on my first semester, my GE subjects are a breath of fresh air. It becomes a hub to discuss relevant events in the society. Our professors thoroughly craft their lessons and incorporate social issues. Their objective is to help us students to think critically, take a stand on that issue, and instill our national pride.

Whenever my requirements pile up, I sometimes play “UP naming Mahal” to help me remember why I am here and what I am doing this for.

What about extracurriculars?

UP has a wide array of organizations, may it be political, provincial, academic, or even mass organization. Organizations have different thrusts depending on what they advocate. These provide a safe space for students to practice their leadership and develop connections within and outside the university.

Organizations, specifically mass organizations, are vocal about issues in the university. Student activism and movements are widespread since UP is a basin of culture and beliefs. Rallies that call for government actions are exercised, thus coining the student phrase, “Iskolar ng Bayan, para sa Bayan.”

In addition, organizations can be your support group. At the start of the second semester, I started to feel homesick. Fortunately, the first organization I joined not only provided me with academic assistance, they also became my family here in UP. Whenever I’m with them, I feel like I’m at home.

The charms of dorm life

UP has dormitories prioritizing students who live far away from the metro. Luckily, I got accepted in Ilang-Ilang Residence Hall (IlReHa). Living inside the campus is convenient. Aside from skipping Quezon City traffic, IlReHa has dormers with entrepreneurial minds. They provide printing facilities and mini convenience stores within the hall. In addition, IlReHa houses various food enthusiasts who sell weekday meals.

Speaking of which, you’ll find tasty food carts and kiosks wherever you turn. The most popular food place in the campus is Area 2, a street lined with affordable foodie haunts. This is where most students pig out after exams.

In just nine months of studying in the university, I came to love the colorful culture that comes with it. Although I’m far away from home, UP has become my second home, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.