1st week, 2nd semester, A.Y. 2015-2016

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First Starbucks study session for the semester! | Follow me on Instagram: @shealeairal

It has been a short while since I last posted a book review. Or did any blogging-related activity, really. The reason for my abrupt absence can be summed up nicely: college. Yep, my second semester as a third year chemical engineering student has officially begun. Does that fact intimidate or frighten me in any way, you ask? Not in the least. Of course it does. I am terrified and still in the midst of freaking out and why does time fly at an alarming, accelerated rate and oh my god and ugh, okay, let’s move on.

While I did not expect my first week back in the University of the Philippines to pass by with the gentlest of breezes, I certainly did not anticipate to feel intense exhaustion right to the very core of my being. My recent enrollment experience is a swift kick in the ass compared to the manner in which this week slaughtered every fiber of my willpower to live (and to think that during last week’s enrollment, it took me two brutal days to secure a three-unit subject). Of course, I’m somewhat exaggerating.

Still, I often found myself returning to my dorm and immediately collapsing on my bed out of exhaustion. That’s the life of every college student, I guess. Throughout the entire week, I’ve been overwhelmingly tired physically, mentally and emotionally -– but mainly physical as I am forced to transport myself from one building to another. It’s inconvenient how all my classes are located in buildings substantially distant from each other. To make matters worse, the university’s campus is so voluminous the President should declare it as a separate state.

Aside from my daily bodily pain, let’s talk about my mental health as well. For this semester, my classes run from Tuesday to Saturday. Specifically: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have classes from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM; on Wednesdays, 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM; on Fridays, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM; on Saturdays, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. From this, I guess it can be inferred that my Sundays and Mondays will be utilized for compensating for the hours of sleep I’ve lost (and will continue to lose as the semester progresses) and for dealing with all my responsibilities – academics-wise, organization-wise, blog-wise and personally.

Anyway, to better explain my recent inactivity and why I’m already spiraling towards insanity, I’ve decided to talk about my first week of classes! Yay.

January 18, 2016 (Monday)

Technically, the start of classes was on this day; however, since I have no Monday classes, I spent the day moving back into my dorm and mentally bawling over the fact that I have to once again get used to bathroom showers without a water heater. Seriously, do I look like the kind of person who enjoys bathing in freezing water at 5:30 in the bloody morning? Nope.

January 19, 2016 (Tuesday)

My legitimate first day of classes. At this point, I rarely meet unfamiliar faces because most of my classes are specifically delegated for chemical engineering majors. The only class that was not was ES 11, which is teeming with civil engineering students, if I’m not mistaken. I genuinely know no one, which kind of sucks because I get pretty socially awkward in unfamiliar environments. On a more positive note, however, my ES 11 lab professor seems really, really cool. I mean, he’s very entertaining and I like his sense of humor and his vibe in general. Actually, most of my professors this semester seem great. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep me motivated to work extremely hard this semester.

January 20, 2016 (Wednesday)

For my second day back in college, I only had to attend two classes – which is such a relief because the first day certainly took quite a toll on me. I mean, I spent most of my Christmas break lounging around the house and snuggling in my bed, and now, I’m back to walking for twenty minutes just to get to my other class? The only thing remarkable about this day was ES 1. Although it is a required subject, ES 1 can be taken at any time within my degree program. I was supposed to take the class last semester, but I forfeited my slot during enrollment. During that semester, my Tuesday and Thursday classes ran from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM without any breaks, and as such, taking ES 1 felt too much of a hassle since accomplishing plates consumes a lot of time. Also, the subject downright scares me. What with its notably high mortality rate (otherwise known as the number of students who flunk the course per semester) and numerous plates – a total of 35, to be exact.

Thankfully, my first three-hour session in ES 1 was relatively merciful. I was introduced to my first three plates – two of which were assigned to be completed at home. The first three plates weren’t incredibly technical. No need to use a compass, a protractor or any of those 30-60-90 triangles just yet. Thank God. However, I can already tell that I’m going to struggle quite exceptionally in this subject. I mean, it took me hours to finish the two take-home plates – and they were just lettering! For the first time in my entire life, I felt like I had the most atrocious handwriting in the world. Also, it annoyed me how gradual my progress was. My perfectionism is probably to blame.

After class dismissal, I had a quick dry run with my friend. The two of us were asked to host a seminar for our organization’s nationwide event, Research Fair. I’ll elaborate on that later. Anyway. I was able to return to my dorm at a pretty late hour, and I ended up collapsing on my bed and immediately falling asleep instead of being productive. Whoops.

January 21, 2016 (Thursday)

In UP ALCHEMES (University of the Philippines Academic League of Chemical Engineering Students), I am a member of the Secretariat Committee. Moreover, I am also one of the Directors for Organization Excellence Recognition. Meaning, I am in charge of producing write-ups for organization recognition and overseeing submissions for competitions and award-giving bodies within and outside the university. This year, one of our main endeavors is the TAYO (Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations) Awards.

The Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations is all about finding, recognizing, and rewarding youth organizations that create their own spark so that others may also bask in the same light. With the TAYO program, we can prove that Filipino youth groups can change lives and turn the world around, because where others see only problems and despair, they see a call for action. The TAYO Awards Foundation, Inc. is the country’s only award giving body that recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations in the country.

(Taken from their official website.)

We submitted our entry last year, and – let me hold back my tears – UP ALCHEMES made it as a national finalist! Our entry for the competition was Research Fair, which fell under the Education & Technology category. Okay, I won’t bore anyone with the details as the competition went on for months. To cut the long story short, as of January 21, 2016, UP ALCHEMES WON ITS FIRST TAYO AWARD!!! The National Finals Awarding was held at the Malacañang Palace.

I’ve already released all of my feelings via Facebook, so let me just insert an excerpt here (Wow, can I get any lazier?):

Thank you to all the members – from the founding members to the resident Alchemists – for getting all of us to this point. You’ve all contributed in our organization’s rich history and in creating a legacy we can all be proud of. Making a difference and breaking free since 1999!

Really, I’m absolutely humbled to just be a small part of all of this.

On a somewhat unrelated note, January 21 was also Day 1 of Research Fair 2016! I was unable to marshal during the event due to conflicting class schedules. It’s pretty sad. But again, more on that later.

January 22, 2016 (Friday)

As mentioned earlier, my student organization, UP ALCHEMES (University of the Philippines Academic League of Chemical Engineering Students) organizes an annual nationwide event. Well, actually, we have a total of four nationwide events – each catering to the community and to the society in a different way. But I digress.

Research Fair is the oldest flagship event organized by UP ALCHEMES. In fact, it has been around for 15 solid years! Essentially, Research Fair (RF) is a research-based competition and workshop series that accommodates all year levels of high school students from all over the Philippines. Additionally, it also offers seminars and workshops specifically designed to further cultivate the skills of research advisers and high school teachers. Established way back in 2002, RF began as a one-day activity and its participants were solely from Metro Manila; however, by 2010, it expanded into a three-day nationwide platform for the youth to fuel their drive to build the nation through scientific discovery and innovation.

Specifically, the sub-events of Research Fair are as follows: Research Competition (RC), National Science Conquest (NSC) and Youth Science Convention (YSC).

For Research Fair 2016, the theme was “EPITAXY: Reinforcing Youth Ingenuity into the Lattic of Science and Technology”. The event was held from January 21, 2016 to January 23, 2016. As I’ve also mentioned earlier, I was asked to be a host of a sub-event (Day 2, Part 1 of Youth Science Convention 2016).

Personally, Research Fair is my favorite UP ALCHEMES event. Hands down! I was first introduced to it back in freshman year when I was still applying to become a member (otherwise known as an Alchemist – wink, wink). I’ve been a member of the Research Fair team for three years now, and every year, my heart grows to love the event even more. I mean, there’s nothing quite like inspiring the youth to become catalysts for positive change, yes? Plus, it is really fun to be able to interact with so many eager high school students! It’s unbelievably amazing how when given the right opportunity and the right instruments, the youth are more than capable of astonishing us with their brilliant ideas and original innovations. There are seriously no words and no forms of measure to quantify how eye-opening the entire experience is. Oh my god, I’m going off-tangent again, aren’t I?

Anyway, I, together with my co-host, Karl, hosted the morning program for the Youth Science Convention 2016, which ran from 8:00 AM to noon. I won’t lie. I was incredibly thrilled to be a host! This was actually my second time – the first was in Research Fair 2014. Again, I don’t want to bore anyone with excruciating details, but needless to say, I had such a blast hosting the seminar! The RF participants never lost their enthusiasm, and the speakers were so insightful and beyond inspiring. During break times, the participants initiated conversations with me, and I felt both ridiculously shy and extremely flattered whenever they asked for a photo with me. It was really nice and sweet. Karl was also really great to work with. I am so thankful and blessed to have had this opportunity!

Here are a couple of photos with a few participants! (Disclaimer: Neither photo is mine.)

I was also able to take a photo with Lenrah, who happens to be the Overall Champion of Research Fair 2016.

January 23, 2016 (Saturday)

Thankfully, my professor sent an email announcing that our NSTP session was cancelled, so I was able to sleep in before my 1:00 PM EEE 1 class. Unfortunately, my EEE 1 lab professor was an hour and thirty minutes late, and my classmates and I had to loiter around the hallway. It was an unappealing situation because the weather was very hot and humid. Eww. When my professor did arrive, it was a pretty brief introductory discussion that lasted for around 20 minutes.

After class dismissal, I did errands and visited Research Fair afterwards as it was the event’s third and last day. The greatest highlight for that day was that I was finally given the opportunity to have a photo with Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, the actual miss universe! I first encountered her back in RF 2014, but I was too shy to actually introduce myself. I mean, how could I? This is the amazing Filipino astrophysicist who, at a relatively young age, proved Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to be true! Dr. Reyes is such an admirable woman. I’ve never felt so stunned in my life!

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First of her name. Queen of millennials and the constantly caffeinated. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

11 thoughts on “1st week, 2nd semester, A.Y. 2015-2016”

  1. I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end! Just think of all the amazing things you will be able to do when it’s over and remember to take some breathers! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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