Depending on where you go, it’s likely back to school season or graduation season! June usually marked the beginning of one’s academic life all over again (pre-calendar shifts, of course) and it brought with it the onslaught of back-to-school stationery and notebook shopping. On your last ever first day of school, however, were you aware that it was the last one?
Many of us went through the whirlwind of academics without giving that a thought! I’m a sentimental person by heart so I was aware of it but when I brought it up with others, they didn’t realize it until I said it. “Onga no,” they’d say. “This is the last one.”
We asked a few alumni from different schools if they remembered their last first day of school and what was going through their heads when it happened!
5. Emil Hofileña, BFA Creative Writing 2016, Ateneo de Manila University
“My last first day of school as an undergraduate was on January 18, 2016, Monday,” wrote Emil Hofileña, an alumnus from the Ateneo de Manila University. Hofileña took Creative Writing and graduated cum laude in 2016.
“My first class was at 10 AM but I made sure to be awake by 7. My plan that day was to attend the 8 AM lecture of my former English/Literature professor’s freshman class. It was tradition for his former students to sit in, and I felt that would be a perfect start.”
I remember instantly feeling wistful about everything. It was a surprisingly pleasant day. I had forgotten how refreshing 8 AM morning air could be. And sitting inside my very first classroom again was extremely nostalgic. It was interesting to think about how the freshmen in that room were only getting started, while I had gone through so much already—and yet we both started from the same place.
As president of his organization, the Loyola Film Circle or LFC for short, Emil spent a lot of his time in his org room. While he was there, he was asked by orgmates how it felt starting his last semester ever and his answer was always the same: “I think my answer was always the same: it was sad, but I knew it was time.”
It’s funny thinking about my last first day now, and how anticlimactic it seemed, compared to the fantasy I had in my head. The entire time, I remember hoping that the day would turn out to be special and completely memorable. But it was, by all accounts, ordinary. I guess most things feel ordinary when you’re in the moment. College as a whole felt so much longer in the moment. But as soon as I started counting down the weeks, the days seemed to go by so much faster.
I suppose my last first day taught me one of the more important things I’ve had to learn in the working world. Time really doesn’t wait around for anybody, doesn’t care if you’re sentimental, or need more of it. Learning that and accepting it has taught me not to “seize the day” or anything, but to simply value the ordinary a little bit more, to celebrate the little things a little more.
4. Marielle Almario, BA Literature 2017, Kalayaan College
For Kalayaan College alum Marielle Almario, her first day didn’t seem out of the ordinary. “The first day of my last sem didn’t seem all that special. Ate the usual breakfast, wore the usual t-shirt and jeans, went the usual route to school. The same as always.”
While classes seemed to run smoothly and normally, the last one had her a little disappointed. “MY LAST CLASS WAS A NO SHOW. I shouldn’t have been surprised because my professor for that class is well known for never showing up on the first meeting and just giving advanced readings. It would have been okay if I wasn’t waiting since 1PM for this 6PM class.” Seems like it was off to a bit of a rocky start, but it soon got a little better.
When her and her barkada found a little corner of their college to themselves, things soon came together.
There was a new kiosk in school that opened up on the first day of the school year and it was just a drinks kiosk with a couple baked goods like brownies and cookies showing up every now and then.
That area became the hangout area of my entire friend group. We got close to the owners; we’re all friends now. That was pretty rad and that spot kind of became known as our spot. People would look for us there or that would be our meeting area. It was great.
It was mid-lunch in this very spot that she and a couple of her friends realized that it was their last ever first day of school.
It only hit me while I was having lunch with my friends, most of which were in a batch lower or so, that this was my last first day and that I don’t have a “next sem” to go back to and tell them about the dumb things I got up to during “the break”. There were only three of us in our group who was going to graduate while everyone else still had a year or two. The three of us kind of got emotional while eating our sisig
3. Ann Young, CRS Physical Therapy 2017, University of Santo Tomas
“I know most first days of school are memorable, but that wasn’t really the case for me,” Ann Young, currently a med student, wrote. It was very typical for her with the usual introductions, meeting new people, and all. “we all decided to just explore the campus for a bit. We eventually just sat at one of the tables in the Quadricentennial Park.”
Nothing really stood out to her, just that this was the first of plenty.
The first class is always the orientation with the whole introduce yourself bit and no prof decided to make it more interesting. In short, the day wasn’t special to me, mostly because I already knew that PT was just going to be a pre-Medicine course
Now that she’s in medicine, she’s got a lot to look forward to. While, admittedly, the 5 year stay wasn’t her favorite, she still did enjoy some moments. “I enjoyed learning so much but I guess the bad moments kind of outweighed the good moments.”
Not all first days are special, sometimes it’s just another day.
2. Jay Tongco, BS Civil Engineering, De La Salle University
“Imagine that you are on your last set of subjects–wow what a feeling. You just realized that you are on the end game of schooling and that you are about to enter the adulting stage, fast,” wrote Jay Tongco, a civil engineering graduate from the De La Salle University. After what he calls a “rollercoaster experience” with a challenging set of subjects, he was amazed that he was on his last leg as a student.
As someone who lived near school, he knew the convenience of being able to come and go to campus when needed.
I live in a condo near school because it was very convenient. I am quite lucky that I could just wake up in the morning an hour before class, get ready, eat breakfast and then go to class. It felt different cause I knew that [this would] be my last months living in this condominium. I had this thought that I have to get ready to say goodbye to the Taft life–where I could hang out with my friends spontaneously or eat out a lot. This was also goodbye to the canned goods and fast food that I have been eating in the last 4 years!
“It was a bright day cause the center of topic is ‘it’s our last term, ang bilis‘ or ‘konti nalang‘ or ‘boards exams na lang pagkatapos nito.'” He and his classmates were aware that it was their last first day and exchanged some thoughts and worries. But, according to him, it was nice to feel like he belonged to a family where everyone understood each other. “[I]t’s nice to feel that you belong in a family despite the stress and challenges we faced together in our specialization.”
As the day ended, he had dinner with his brother in Tokyo Tokyo to bond. “Once I finished all my classes, I would go out to dinner with my brother in Tokyo Tokyo (cause this is the only time I get to bond with him) and then go back and rest up!”
Once he made it to the end of his day, he had a very clear idea in his mind:
At the end of the day, I said to myself “Just a little more push, you can do it, Jay!” In less than a year, I’ll be an engineer.
1. Anonymous, BS Family Life and Child Development 2017, University of the Philippines Diliman
“On my last first day of school, I remember telling myself that it wasn’t such a big deal, that I shouldn’t make it such a big deal.” This UPD alum reminded herself that it wasn’t something that she had to make such a spectacle for herself. “I was so ready to claim being an Iskolar ng Bayan that I absolutely let go of any worry in my head about not fitting the part, but believe me, I had a long way to go then.”
The feeling of the world expanding is something many of us have experienced, but this alum really felt the trepidation it brought when she stepped up to her building.
“It was a rainy day and I remember bringing out an umbrella I had never used before as I slowly climbed up the great steps of Palma Hall. I remember feeling at that moment just how small my world had been before that, and that suddenly I had such a great and unimaginable road ahead of me.”
After a nervous, shaky start, things thankfully evened out. “I sat down in the lobby completely doubtful about how I possibly made it to this point and if I’m going to really get to make my life here. Luckily, a blockmate passed by and after sitting together and chatting, I realized that it really wouldn’t be so bad as long as I get to find friends to stand with as we figured out whatever we would be doing next.”
When it came down to it, the idea that it was her last first day didn’t really click until later on.
In my rush to fit into place, I don’t think I stopped to think that this would be my last first day. Now that I’ve graduated, I can’t help but look back now to be surprised at how fast it all went by. I wish I could’ve held on to the moment a bit longer just to give me something more to look back on. Because I realize that to start anything is a blessing and it was nice feeling like you have a fresh start in a new place where you can grow into anyone you want to be.
Do you remember your last first day of school? Let us know!