How I "made" my first Filipino friend

The freshman year is easier when you look back

A few days into the start of the fall semester and the sense of novelty continues to permeate the air all around. Despite living on site, everything about college, from the people to the building structures, is still brand new. 

Today, hungry and with a clear class schedule, sutiben’s lil’ legs head towards Benedict college; the only nearby campus cafeteria. There are other eating locations, of course, but suti isn’t confident of their opening hours. A starting freshman’s options are quite limiting and sad.

*Holds onto stomach* (~_~;) hungry hungry hippo… 

With a faster approach, sutiben enters the building, walking down the stairs thinking along the way.

Your first year experience always begins alone with your thoughts

At this moment, sutiben is neither sad nor depressed. College is simply a different environment. This whole school transition makes suti all at once anxious, uncomfortable, and a tad bit excited. In one word: jumpy. How could sutiben not feel this way? Entering college is not any different from a foreign land. Too many unknowns exists which brings questions and one’s imagination to the forefront.

  • Are college girls really wild & crazy? Will sutiben need to bring a straight jacket of some sort?
  • There seem to be countless Asians on campus…
  • Sutiben did great in high school. College can’t be that hard, right?
  • If late to lecture, will the whole class stare at sutiben… and his raggedy shoes? 
  • Every fellow university student is a stranger. No one to waves at. You’re wanting to meet someone. Anyone. At the same time, because “masks” are on, you can’t tell who is a fellow freshman.
  • What fun stuff is there to do? *tosses yo yo away* eh… Fraternity life? ’Tis possible. 
  • People judge students by what we do in college. Need to be perfect and not mess up.
  • What will people think of suti? Sure, the Playstation can make suti the center of attention but this is no longer kindergarten. Those tricks won’t work… or will it?
  • Have you decided on the career to aim for? Do what you like but what is that exactly?
  • Stumbling & searching for class rooms strengthens the feeling of estrangement. Confidence surely goes down a notch or two.

Finally inside the dining area, suti lines up on queue to grab something to eat. No double servings here though; food is average at best & price doesn’t reflect that fact (o^^o) hehe. 

Suti then goes to sit and enjoy the meal. Hardly anyone around. There’s a hung TV playing the usual horrible MTV. For a few minutes, you take a look in the hopes of a decent distraction but just as quickly look away disappointed.

The day thus far is indicative of how cold year one in college can be. The morning class is jam pack with students in a large auditorium but without much human communication. Pure lecture. Pure consumption. If you struck a chord earlier with a classmate, you retain some connection. Otherwise, you’re drawn to the lecture. If you never played hooky in the past, you don’t quite easily dismiss the idea.

A freshmen’s first day is like when given a sticker

When your elementary teacher hands you a sticker, your reaction is similar to your first day in a university. You refuse to stick it just anywhere. Your fellow classmates have already placed theirs on a notebook, book bag, body part, binder, etc.

But, oh no, not you! How can you waste a sticker so recklessly? When the other fools lose track of theirs, they will regret their carelessness.

The sticker suddenly becomes a cherished rare moment in time whose significance is beyond current understanding. The owner, then, begins the long search of a deserving area to place the sticker & enjoy. 1

Similarly, as a freshman, sutiben has been on high alert to every event and slow to act, waiting first to analyze the ramifications. 

Thinking and thinking.

The life changing experience that came about

Then, all of a sudden, without notice a fellow comes by the table with his food tray and asks if can sit down. Who is this brave soul?

Sure.

Who knows what we talk about for those few minutes we ate together. But all previous wandering thoughts and concerns silently disperse. It is as though a hand was placed on the shoulder to calm sutiben.

The meeting lasts but for a brief time. Sutiben wouldn’t know it until much later, but this was suti’s first college friend. From this point on, everything seems to be at peace. The only question that remains is: does he know any Asian girls?


  1. Turns out because of this mentality, given a sticker, sutiben will hardly ever stick it anywhere ↩︎

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