Should I stay?


For the past weeks I have been itching to write but I pushed away my notebook, afraid of polluting it with my melancholic musings (just as I did years ago when I was sad teenager). It was my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to avoid negative thoughts and feelings and I have no intention of breaking it. After all, I deserve to be happy, right?

But I just can’t feel happy right now.

I knew that at some point, the honeymoon stage will end and doubt will come but I never expected it to come this early. I never thought that my students will ever break my heart.

Recently, several students claimed that they have learned nothing from me. It hurt. I am hurting so much that the all the maybes have resurfaced and have now made a monster who nibbles on this passion that I have held on to all my life.

Maybe I really suck at teaching.

Maybe I am not what they need.

Maybe I have been wrong all this time.

Maybe I screwed it all up again.

Maybe mom’s right — maybe, a medical school is where I truly belong.

Or maybe, I should pursue a career in science, just as I was trained to do.

I thought passion and determination was enough. I thought I was enough. But as it turns out, I am not. That hurts when you think you have given all that you can.

Lately, I have been thinking: Should I stay? Do I love them enough to stay? 

Being wise and brave and right


I have loved him but I am no longer the love-drunk teenager he knew while five years has done nothing to him. I just knew — it’s time to go.

They applauded. They said I am wise and brave and right.

I didn’t know being wise and brave and right hurts.

Cruel April


I should have bought an ice cream. It occurred to me just now that coffee is not a good idea with this weather. Or at least, I should have bought iced coffee. Hot coffee and April just do not go together. I wish April is over soon.

In this part of the world, April is literally the cruellest month. I hate April.

But I used to love April though, it being the good half of summer vacation. April was basically a month-long feast of childhood. It was all about long hours of play uninterrupted by homework — playing outdoor games in pajamas because Mommy did not want us to scrape our knees, swimming in the pink inflatable pool with my siblings and my brother’s plastic toy animals, playing water tag while Daddy washes the car, soaking up the rare April showers in a pink one-piece bathing suit, dance-offs against my sister to Britney Spears’ and Spice Girls’ hits, and Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Animax. April was when Mommy was almost always in a good mood, when she was not hovering over us about schoolwork and when we spent many afternoons turning the kitchen into a sweet-smelling chaos with her baking experiments. And best of all, April is my birth month. Blowing candles is the best way to end the month, don’t you think?

Now, April sucks. With the extreme heat you can no longer expect kids to play outside. That would be self-inflicted punishment. Maybe this is why Earth Day is on April — it is when we can actually feel that climate change is real. Plus, what summer vacation? The academic calendar shift has ruined that. April has become the dreaded cramming month instead of being graduation month. And worst of all, April is my birth month. I just can’t celebrate when April is being too depressing.

I am twenty-one today. The number is so odd. I feel ridiculous in my body — I look sixteen but feel twenty-six. I hope I were eleven again, though. At least then I would have had a cake and candles to blow. Now it’s just me and this cup of coffee.

It is interesting how even in a hot, humid day like this, coffee can still provide comforting warmth.

Time vs. Learning


Many people would claim that the workload given to college students in school is way too much for their bodies and brains to handle. To this, I disagree. As young adults, we are actually capable of doing heavy school tasks as we are stronger and healthier. Our strongest opponent is actually the clock. We can do so much but we have too little time.

I am a person who hates running after time so I panic when given just a week to master three chapters of a biology book. Biology, unlike chemistry and physics, is a heavily conceptual discipline so therefore, in order to fully understand it, one must take time to read and reread not only the lecture notes but also the books — the more textbooks you read, the better you grasp the concepts. So, needless to say, studying biology requires much time as it requires much effort. Sadly, time is a limited resource for us biology majors for we have only eight semesters to tackle the vast scope of the science of life and nature.

Most of times, when I read my book in preparation for an upcoming exam (likely, three to four days later), I get too engrossed with the things I am learning so I take time to digest the material properly, chewing slowly and savoring every bite. By the time I finish with one chapter, the exam will be in a few hours and I still have two to three chapters left. I often end up just swallowing those chapters, trying to get as much as I can without really having to focus and give much time. When exam results come, disappointment swallows me in return. I always get marks much lower than what I know I can get.

People will say that grades are just numbers and they do not define who you are. Sure, that is true. But for me, grades are important for they are indicators of how much one has learned. Every time I get low final mark, I become disappointed because I know I was not able to maximize learning. I think it is even better to have failed the subject. At least then, I can get a second chance to study it again.

For other biology students, good grades are important because these are one of the factors that may be able to secure them with admission to the best medical schools. I see my friends pulling all-nighters just to get at least an encircled 1.50 in their class cards. They need it for medical school, they say. So they go without sleep for days many times so that they can go to med school where they will be, again, chasing time. So, the vicious cycle repeats.

We are always reminded that the time pressure is necessary for us to achieve academic excellence. I see it oppositely. Time pressure implies cramming on the part of the students and, as we all know, it produces half-cooked work and limits us to little of the great knowledge that is available for us to explore. For me, time pressure jeopardizes our education. How can that achieve academic excellence?