Home is the warmth of every conversation, the joy of every meal, and the company that chose you amidst who you are. Home isn’t defined by location.
Silent streets, wide and inviting. You can only hear the still melody of birds and autumn breezes. Mask and distances were the city’s whispered watchwords. Every visit to Lidl was a meticulously planned dance, avoiding overlap with scheduled shopping for the elderly. Memories dance vividly as I reminisce about sprinting down mountains, adrenaline pumping, in a race against the curfew to reach our dorms. In the embrace of our first long winter away from home, we discovered newfound friendships and shared heartwarming meals that warmed our souls. Ahh! Those unforgettable moments were etched three years back when I first stepped foot in this vibrant, not-so-small city.
With unwavering courage, we embarked on a journey to leave behind our country and loved ones and pursue our dreams. Stepping into the unknown, we braved the challenges and summoned our inner strength to create a new life. This city, an eager host, awaited our arrival. Each day, as we strolled through the streets, we marveled at the beautifully designed facades that lined our path. And in the company of once strangers, now beloved friends, we laughed together and made memories that will live on in our hearts forever.
Amidst all the laughter and triumphs, our strength blossomed despite countless challenges. From getting out of our eggshells to adapting to unfamiliar online learning systems. Do you still remember the first long winter nights spent in the dormitories when it felt like the season was never going to end, coupled with homesickness? And the in-betweens of life, the mundane tasks, that once we took for granted back home, were the things we miss the most. The aroma of breakfast our mom cooked for us, and the readily available food inside the house. But here, in this city, we had struggled every day to figure out what to cook, let alone prepare our own food. And not to mention the language. Navigating life in a foreign country definitely is not a walk in the park. And the lone nights of relentless pursuit of academic excellence. The constant juggling act of balancing coursework, part-time jobs, and personal commitments tested our resolve.
We grew as individuals, embracing independence and self-reliance. We became a community of people with people who walked life with us in this city, supporting one another through the highs and lows, celebrating each small victory, and lending a helping hand during moments of struggle.
Now we grapple with the question everyone loves to ask us – what do we do next? But listen, the more important question is who you are going to be. It’s not just about the titles or accomplishments we’ll unlock in our careers; it’s also about the essence of who we are, the principles we uphold, and the impact we hope to create. Keep in mind that the route to self-discovery is not linear. It might twist and turn, posing unforeseen difficulties and detours. With an open mind and a curious heart, embrace the unknown as it is through these experiences, you will develop, change, and discover the full extent of your potential.
Pay close attention to the whispers of your heart as you consider who you want to be. Let your interests direct you, your principles ground you, and your dreams motivate you. Take pride in your sincerity because there is where you will find the most happiness.
Padayon, graduates! (Padayon: a Bisaya word – a local dialect in the Philippines- that means carry on.)