People seemed to have aged over the span of two weeks. The effects of nights turned days and days that remained days can be seen in the thinning bodies of the once radiating youth. Hours spent behind books and computers for thesis and exams, in front of panelists and professors for defense and consulations, have sucked away their resonating glow. Tired looking eyes and the dark circles underneath them have transformed the little mortals into ghosts that are chasing time. Heavy sighs, joyful screams and sorrowful cries resonate around campus like a new mash-up hit.
Such a scene is an amusement for an on looker like Mister Boo (I don’t know what he’s called but I thought the name Mister Boo suits him). Maybe, just maybe, this is how the bulky silver-haired, green-eyed, Caucasian man wearing a baseball cap, a polo, a pair of loose blue jeans, and a Jesus Christ sandals who sits silently on the benches outside the humanities department would describe the last two weeks of a graduating senior.
The last two weeks of February was the most thrilling and the most excruciating of all the weeks in my academic life. Thrilling because we are nearly in the last leg of our university race and we’re about to set forth to a new journey on an unfamiliar grounds. However, it’s also excruciating for we know that we have consumed the allotted time to prepare for the bigger world— that very soon we are about to say good bye to the friends, professors, and the school that formed our home for four or five years.
The latter part of the month was actually allocated for panel defense, thesis revisions and submissions, and final exams for seniors like me. Hence, it wasn’t surprising to see people running around like Olympians to meet deadlines. It had become a natural thing to see someone walking and talking by him/herself sounding like a teacher before presentations and oral examinations. Messy hair and home clothes were the in thing matched with a tall tumbler filled with coffee. The libraries and study halls were also packed by heads buried in lecture notes and piles of readings. Restaurants nearby were also occupied by groups of undergraduates pulling all-nighters— cramming for synthesis papers.
Like many of my batchmates I was truly anxious to end the suffering that we were subjected to. I wanted to bid goodbye to tests, quizzes, projects and whatnot. I wanted to end the academic torment as soon as possible because I thought I would be happy after all of it.
I was TOTALLY wrong.
I couldn’t wait for my last philosophy oral examination to finish that Friday of February 28th. I was done with my finals for all of my subjects and philosophy was the only one left. All throughout the day I was busy contemplating about thesis number seven regarding the law and its nature according to Kant and Aquinas. I couldn’t actually claim that I was really focused while I was reviewing. In fact, I was more pre-occupied by the idea of liberation from stress after the exam than the test itself.
At around five in the afternoon I was already sitting on one of the plastic chairs lined in the hallways of the Philosophy department— my heart beating fast, my feet cold, and my hands sweaty. A male student was also waiting with me; he was more tensed than I was for he walked here and there reading his notes for the last time. On the other hand, I was trying to follow the advice of the legendary Mr. Eddie Boy, “Just relax,” written on a poster in front of me. I calmed myself down by slowly breathing in all the good vibes in the air and expelling all the tension I had in me.
When the clock struck 5:20PM I sauntered inside the department and waited another five minutes on one of the available seats. My professor fetched me from the anxiety area saying, “It’s your turn.” I walked with him towards the small consultation room on the left side of the department. He motioned me to sit as he took his on the chair across the table before me.
The first five or so minutes got wasted on his bullying antics targeted towards me. We actually have an awesome student-teacher relationship full of shenanigans and nonsense. However, his prank that time actually worked. My tears welled up my eyes even before I began because he made it look like he really was serious. When I was nearly on the verge of crying he guffawed like a hyena. [Oh… And he claims he’s the most normal in the Philo Dept. Well, I beg to disagree.]
I started to chop the thesis statement and began blurting out the ideas I have pondered over the day. Long have I waited for the last exam to come, but fast it ended—20 minutes, that’s what it took. As I spoke of my concluding remarks my college life also came to a close.
My professor shook my hands after congratulating me and thanking me for a wonderful semester. I showed him my gratitude as well. And because I couldn’t handle too much joy in this little body of mine I exploded like dynamite– shouting, shaking, and jumping with glee— as I hugged Sir Mark. He exuberantly joined me in my little celebration by doing the same thing. A few seconds after we realized we had to stop the comical dance we were doing as well as the festive noise we were making because orals were still being held in the rooms beside us.
The energy died down after a while. It didn’t actually take that long before the euphoria left me. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I felt the pang of sadness lurking in the shadows of my heart. All my academic requirements were done, I had been released from the shackles of university work and yet it didn’t feel right.
I slowly ambled with no clear destination in mind, my tongue muted, my body exhausted, and my head silenced. With my placid walking I reached the university Church. The green trees, the calm twilight sky and the chirping birds, perfectly complemented such a serene place.
I entered the doors that were like arms open for embrace. It has become a place of refuge for me for four years. It’s the same place I asked for grace the summer when I was still in high school preparing and reviewing for my college entrance examinations. It’s the same place I ran to before I took my university’s test. It’s the same place I said my thanks when I got accepted. It’s the same place I ran to when I was most vulnerable. It’s the same place I visited that day of the curtain call.
There was no one inside but another student in his silent retreat on the last row of the numerous wooden chairs. I opted to seat at the front row to so I could have my own moment. I looked at the man on the cross, took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Soon I was lost in oblivion. I was deep within my own thoughts, my own feelings that the emotions just raged like flood. I couldn’t control the waterfall coming from my eyes. My defenses were down and I couldn’t stop sobbing hysterically.
It was already dark when I took my leave. One of our university guards was silently standing at the far corner behind the church near the water fountain. I am not quite sure how long had he been there or whether he witnessed me broke down. But on my way to the door he bowed and smiled at me, somehow I felt consoled.
The moment I got home, I texted my parents telling them that I just finished the last of all my final exams. The happiness transcends from their congratulatory remark yet I wasn’t really in the mood to rejoice. What I needed that time was emotional counsel. Hence, I messaged my mother to call me which she immediately did.
Apparently my father and my mother were out having dinner. I didn’t want to ruin my parents’ little date but I needed someone who could understand the situation I was going through. And who else can give me such comfort without judging me or without looking at me as a pathetic child— no one else but my mama and papa.
Ninety percent of the time I was the one talking in our conversation. My mother simply listens to my nostalgia (even though I haven’t left the university yet) and would interject with comforting words at times when I didn’t have enough energy to prevent my sob from drowning my sentences.
I know it was very dramatic, but what could I do? I grew to love my school in ways I never imagined that the thought of separation brought pain I never thought existed.
No, I don’t want college to end just yet.