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Culture shock: Adjusting to life in Taft

Out of everything that they told us in LPEP, they forgot to initiate us to one guideline we needed as a frosh: how does one adjust to Taft life?

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We’ve all heard that annoying saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”, and it is in a way annoyingly correct. No matter how much we tend to our daisies, water those bushes, and trim those hedges, we can never help but wonder how those roses on the other side of the fence smell like in the morning.

For most of us, it was a dream entering a college that boasts of its polished colors, winning aura, and elite status; to a point such qualities have become the known tradition. But out of everything that they told us in LPEP, they forgot to initiate us to one guideline we needed as a frosh: how does one adjust to Taft life?


The empire state of Taft

It should come to no surprise that one of the main adjustments that people from the south (and north!) have to get accustomed to is this thing called travel time. Whether it’s the ruthless traffic that makes that distance somehow eternal or the other endless lines that bombard any mode of transport, it seems like the world is bent on having you walk into your first class late. Not the best way to start the mornings.

But for those who choose to avoid the mess that is our transportation system, they face their own brand of surprise. Having been used to the quaint and calming charm of the countryside, most of our dormers have to get used to the nightlife that exist daily in Taft. Much like a mini-NYC, the streets are as alive as they are restless. For those who live for the party, it’s an adventure rather than an adjustment, but for those who live on scholarships and dreams of being on the Dean’s List, endless distractions and booms can cause a lot of bust on their concentration, sleep, and eventually their grades. And we haven’t even started on the looming dangers that abound almost every corner.

One stay-in who lived his whole life in San Francisco, Ernest, remembers a time when he was knocked out along Quirino Avenue after coming from a fastfood chain for some dinner. “Out of nowhere this guy just punches me, grabs my wallet, steals the money and credit cards then runs away.” But even with that surreal robbing, what surprised him the most was that no one came to his aide until he was able to get back on his own two feet.  “People were just staring at me for almost 20 minutes lying on the ground.” He felt helpless at first and instantly felt anger towards the people around him, but to avoid any more trouble, he didn’t want to curse them out. He goes on to say how an old lady eventually approached him to offer help finding the nearest precinct. Definitely not worth the hassle for some soft-serve.


Out of their shells

Out of all the undergrads that enter DLSU, none are more surprised to see what kind of characters it houses than those sheltered ones. From off-the-runway get-ups to the on-the-book synchronization of introductions, the larger than life performance that is constantly plugged around the campus can feel like a personal theater for those who aren’t used to the grandeur. Kenny, a CCS student, tells how he immediately noticed the way people dressed. “Grabe pala manamit mga tao dito, kahit mainit nakajacket,” he states with a grin. Upon his first walk along Agno St., it felt like a fashion show and the show does go on in Taft whether it be pouring rain or blisteringly hot.

For some students who have lived their whole life under strict watch or academic pressure, or for those who simply preferred to go straight home, they never really grasped the thought of a different kind of routine that involves a lot human interaction.

Siguro yung mga beso na greeting ako talagang nagulat,” says Rafael, a third-year student who came from a small school where he was a consistent honor student. He found such an affectionate greeting a little too much at first. He recalls a time wherein a friend saw him after the long break and immediately went in for a hug and placed her cheek against his own, a friend who he just met in one class in the previous term. “Not that I’m complaining,” he instantly says after recounting. “Nakakabigla lang yung sweetness.”


Lost in transition

The only thing that remains constant in this world is change. But when things are constantly changing, well, that’s a whole other world. No one on this list might have experienced the biggest culture shock than our foreign friends. It’s hard enough that they’re a million miles from home, forced to learn new languages, and even figure out what to wear in this clammy climate. But above all these adjustments, maybe the hardest part of being in college on the other side of the world, or even in your own country, is figuring new people out.

Kim, a CED student, tells us how she hated that her group mates during one of their activities took until the last minute to participate. “I just can’t believe how relaxed they were, I mean it was a major class.” Growing up in Korea, she recalls her teachers literally hitting her in the head after being late for class. “It must be the heat, I don’t think anyone can move in this temperature,” she says. But luckily she’s found people that love her culture as much as she does. “One thing great about the Philippines is their Korean food,” she states with a serious smile. “I took some of my Filipino friends in a small Korean grill near my dorm, and they loved it!”

She concludes that no matter where you’re from, you should never forget your culture. No wiser words can ever be said about fitting in. Love your own grass, and it will always be greener.


Alfonso Dimla

By Alfonso Dimla

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