Many of us dream of coming home to see our family members after a long day of school. We imagine ourselves sharing something funny that had happened earlier in the day with our siblings, or telling our mothers and fathers about that quiz we almost perfected (or failed). But for some, it’s not that easy. For students coming from far away provinces, and even abroad, going to DLSU and having to stay somewhere closer to the school means being away from these familiar comforts of home. The Menagerie asks some of those students what, for them, makes home sweet home.
Where is home?
For students who come from provinces, other countries, or even just cities far away from Taft, it’s convenient—and sometimes necessary—to live in areas near DLSU. This convenience, however, often comes at a price. Some students can only go back to their home province during the term break, because doing so requires catching a flight.
Those who come from places that are just a road trip away have it lucky, like Jianne (II, HIM-MGT), who comes home to Marikina on weekends. On the other hand, students like J (III, AB-ISE), Earl (III, BS-HUMBIO), and Erika (IV, MEM-BME), who came from Bacolod, Davao, and Aklan, respectively, admit that there are days when they feel especially homesick, since they only return to their provinces on long breaks, like during summer or on holidays.
Getting used to Taft life
Now that they’re here around the Metro, they have no choice but to adjust to the big city life. People who come from the provinces have to find out how different the people and the environment really are. After all, as every probinsyano, foreigner, or tourist knows, Manila can be a little different from the rest of the Philippines, which one way or another, contributes to these students’ homesickness.
Two things Manila has more of than any other place are traffic and pollution. The fresh air, coupled with the steady pace of vehicles on roads, are some of the things people from the provinces miss—second only to family and friends, of course. Bea (II, AB-ISE) says, “I miss the surroundings. I miss the fresh air and the bearable traffic, unlike here. Iba talaga dito.” Unfortunately, clean air and moving traffic lanes are a rather rare sight here in Metro Manila, so it’s no wonder they are highly missed.
Food is another big one. Sure, some shops and restaurants will sell what they claim to be authentic dishes and pastries from the province, but a lot of the time, it’s nowhere near the real thing. “It’s different,” shares Sarah (II, AB-ISE). “I miss the food. There’s butterscotch, batchoy, and lechon manok here in Manila, but it’s more expensive, and it tastes way different [from those] in Iloilo.” Jianne, on the other hand, makes sure she always brings some home cooked meals before she returns to her dorm.
Finally, especially for those who live in condos, learning to fend for yourself and live alone is no easy task. As Earl shares, “Living like this was so new. I had to cook by myself, do laundry, clean the house, do everything all by myself,” and all this took some getting used to. However, these students know that learning to be independent has made them stronger, more resourceful, and ultimately more prepared to face the world without their parents by their side.
Making a home away from home
Living somewhere else doesn’t mean you can’t ever feel at home, and these students are experts at making their current dorms or condos more homey. Erika’s life hack is buying the product brands her family uses in Aklan, which makes her place feel more familiar. J remakes her condo into a home away from home by adopting the color scheme she used in her room, and requesting food from Bacolod whenever her mom is in town.
Meanwhile, others make DLSU their home. “I feel more at home at school because my friends are there,” says Bea, “Mas comfortable sa school than sa condo [that I stay in now].” Similarly, Earl states that his friends from Davao who, like him, enrolled in DLSU, are what lessens his homesickness. Because of this, they make it a point to always spend time together, helping each other deal with the different aspects of Manila life. Well, we’re always told that school should be a second home—looks like there’s truth to that advice.
Where the heart is
It’s tough living somewhere that’s unfamiliar. It’s even tougher when you’re getting to know a new place all by yourself. Despite that, these students know that the true meaning of “home” isn’t a location, but a feeling. It’s a place where you can be yourself, where you are secure, and where you can be comfortable and at peace. Moving into a new place is difficult—everything’s unknown, and the idea of leaving your history behind can be painful. Still, knowing that the people you love are just a call away, you can set out to make that unknown a little more familiar. Through this, what was once a new place becomes as sacred, safe, and welcoming as any home there is.
Wherever you are can be home as long as you do whatever it takes to make it feel like one. Some people will always prefer the place they grew up in, while others have gotten used to a life of being away, having learned to make their new homes unique and special to them. But no matter where you’re from, you can’t help but admit that every now and then, you consider DLSU to be home sweet home, too.