The ‘Circle of Life’

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012


HAVE you ever experienced studying outside of your province? In my campus, many students are from other places in the Philippines such as Mindanao, Bohol, Negros, and Leyte, among others. My schoolmates’ dream, after graduating from the University of the Philippines, is to work abroad for a better life. Most of us leave the hometown for study, work, marriage, and other purposes.

Staying in different places is a great experience. It widened my view; brought me to a new world. I am from Japan. After staying in Manila for three years, I transferred to Cebu to study in UP Cebu in 2009. Each place has fantastic atmosphere. In Japan, I enjoyed snow in winter, when my sister and I often create a snowman. Manila is a city that never sleeps. I sometimes miss Manila’s hustle and bustle. In Cebu, I admire beautiful and friendly people.

It was not easy for me to adjust to the new environment: from Japan to the Philippines and Manila to Cebu. There are four psychological stages I passed through during my stay in the foreign lands.

Japanese student Keiko Abe
Keiko Abe (left): Cebu is my second hometown. (Contributed photo)

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I call the first stage an “excited” period. When I arrived in Cebu, I was quite excited, since I had been looking forward to staying here. I enjoyed exploring unfamiliar places. The most memorable place is Kawasan falls. I went there with Filipino friends. We reached the third fall and enjoyed swimming. We bought fresh tuba, the coconut wine. It was the best I have ever tasted. I felt so refreshed by beautiful nature and friends. I was in high spirits in first few months and everything seemed delightful. During this period, I bought an “I Love Cebu” T-shirt.

The second stage was a “homesick” period. In this period, I was getting used to the circumstances, and gradually missing Manila. I had hard time understanding Cebuano language and people’s characteristics. And I really missed Ate Miki. I call her “Nanay.” I decided to visit Manila for a few days to see Ate Miki and go around Manila. When I went back to Cebu, I was totally refreshed and ready to proceed to the next stage.

The third stage is the “well-balanced” period. This is the most stable period; having inner reserves. I eventually learned to communicate with Cebuanos. I started to learn the local dialect.

Finally, the fourth stage is “prepare for leaving” period. When I realized that I only have a short period to stay, I felt sad. After graduating, I will go back to Japan. I am trying to do what I want to do in Cebu so as not to regret later on. For example, I voluntarily teach Japanese language to Filipino people. One of my projects is to make an original textbook for Cebuanos who would love to learn Japanese. Even though I will be far away from the Philippines, I hope this textbook can still be helpful for students.

I have experienced the four stages, or the “circle of life” studying in a foreign land – “excited,” “homesick,” “well-balanced,” and “prepare for leaving.” Knowing these emotional transitions helped me a lot to cope with new environment. When I was in the homesick period, I felt that I was in a dark tunnel that has no exit. However, I knew that a next stage is waiting for me, so I could move on. If you have any chance to leave your hometown, try to keep these stages in mind.

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