On The Things They Don’t Tell You

Note: This was an entry I wrote last August 23, 2016. At the time, I felt the need to keep these thoughts private due to some complications. I’m glad to say that everything worked out in a way that I feel like I can finally share them.

Exactly two weeks from this moment, I will be on a plane flying from Clark, Pampanga, to Boston, Massachusetts.

Well, technically I’ll be on a plane flying me to Dubai where I’ll be having a 7-hour layover, then I’ll be on a plane to Boston, but who needs to be technical.

I moved out of my house a couple months ago and my parents were gracious enough to let me dump everything I own into their house. I’m currently sitting in my room in my parents’ house, surrounded by so much stuff I can’t even begin to understand how I’m gonna pack into two suitcases of 23 kilograms each. My whole life in 100 pounds of stuff.

I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of things that don’t get shared when people tell their story of moving abroad to study. For instance, they never tell you that unless you have a few million pesos on you, you will worry about money. Constantly. And it is exhausting. You will think about where to get it, how you will get it, and briefly contemplate the merits of the value of a kidney on the black market (it’s Php50,000 for one kidney in the PH. In case you were wondering.) There were mornings I would wake up in an immediate panic, eyes flying open and having to take deep breaths to try and ward off the debilitating anxiety. “What have I gotten myself into?” I would think to myself, the fear and crippling anxiety immediately overshadowing the happy fact that I got into business school in the first place. Yeah, not that fun.

They also never tell you how the idea of leaving is such an emotional roller coaster. That sounds like a tired old metaphor, but if there’s one experience it’s true for, it’s this one. I mean, I know all us Manila people always whine about how crappy everything is and how we would loooove to escape, but when it actually happens, the reality kinda floors you.

It’s like that time I didn’t get my period for 7 months and then one day 7 months worth of PMS decided to make itself felt, all at once. One minute you’re raging about the 3 hours you had just spent on EDSA to travel 17 kilometers to your office, the next minute as you’re storming through the lobby of your office building you get sad as you see the Potato Corner stall and think, “awww, there’s no Potato Corner in Boston,” and feeling legitimately sad about it. (Well, Potato Corner is awesome, so I consider this legit.)

Another thing not really shared is how moving away from the life you’ve built to somewhere and something completely unknown can take the bravest person ever and make them buckle. Everyone talks about the excitement, the thrill, and all the amazing things they’re looking forward to experiencing, but no one mentions how it actually really feels to look at someone you care about and think, “I’m not going to see this face in person for a very, very long time.” It’s scary. And hard. And have I mentioned really, really scary? If someone were to ask me right now how this whole experience has been, all I would say to them is that the last 6 months have been some of the hardest and most emotionally challenging months of my life, and you better be darn ready to face it if you’re looking to do the same.

But you know what? If you’re lucky, you will find that you have an amazing family who will support your dreams (in the real, tangible way, not just in the “you can do it, anak!” kind of way), that you have friends who will be there for you through the entire ordeal (AKA 6 months of my obsessing about this non-stop), and that you have a well of courage inside of you that you never even knew was there.

I saw how my family was amazing through this whole thing. They have stood with me, supported me, let me cry when it was all too much at times, and helped me keep my feet grounded when I lost my way. They have given above and beyond what I asked for and expected, and for that, I will forever be grateful. I also saw that there are people who care about me and are willing to help me, even though they get nothing in return, and coming from someone who does not know how to ask for help, it was an incredibly humbling experience.

And lastly, but most importantly, going through this entire ordeal has strengthened my faith in ways that I believe no other experience in my life ever will. I am not a religious person, but I do and have always believed in God and in Jesus, and in the divine plan that he has for my life.

When I was a kid, I discovered for the first time Jeremiah 29:11: (Sunday School kids, say it with me!) “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” And this verse has stuck with me ever since. Everything that has happened in order to make this ~*new adventure*~ possible has proven to me that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be headed, no matter how frickin’ terrified I am. I’m meant to leave (despite all the challenges I’ve had to face thus far.) Just as I’m in a time when I’m comfortable, earning well, and settled with my life (I owned nice dish sets and silverware for crying out loud! And a whole set of wine glasses! Mature looking ones!) God called on me to leave. He said, “Hey, remember that thing that you’ve been asking for for a really, really long time? Yeah, it’s time.” And despite it looking like an impossibility at the beginning, he made it happen. Who am I to say no?

It’s been crazy, and I’m still absolutely terrified (both gigantic understatements) but we’ve finally reached that point in the story that everyone talks about when they talk about leaving home to study abroad — the being excited about the new adventure. I don’t know what’s going to happen or where I’ll end up after my year of grad school (torture for obsessive planners such as myself) but I know that wherever I end up, it’s going to be exactly where I’m meant to be.


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