Monday, December 03, 2007

The Last (Official) Day

(Just sneaking in a quick post before heading off for an amazing all-nighter involving myself, a bibliography 70 pages long, and a cup of coffee.)

Today marks my last official day as a student of the university. It was my last exam (TS 5101: Text and Performance) as an MA student; after today, I have no more requirements to submit, no more exams to take, no more classes to sit for. I have completed the requirements that NUS needs in order to confer upon me my degree as a Master of Arts in Literary Studies.

*breathes in*


*breathes out*

Now that that's over and done with...

It's funny to be able to say that I'm done with my MA at 23 years old. It's not so much that it's impossible - I'm sure there has been a number of gifted individuals who have finished their graduate and postgraduate studies at a much earlier age than me, kind of like a Doogie Howser syndrome of sorts, but it just feels strange to be able to say, with a kind of certainty, that yes, I am done with my Masters, at 23.

It's not that I'm boasting or anything, although yes, even I surprise myself at this time in my life. I mean, I'm looking at my papers, and really, they're not half-bad: As and A-minuses, a couple of Bs, but nothing life-threatening. And I'm just surprised, really, that this is what happens after a year and a half. I have a degree from a reputable university, I have found (what I'm hoping to be, after much angst and drama) the love of my life, and I have my entire career stretching before me like a grand ocean, a horizon of blue, stretching up into the sky. It's an amazing feeling, to finally be able to reach an end and say, "Wow. I did all that."

I couldn't stop grinning after my last exam; it seemed fitting that I was with classmates who entered in the same semester I did, which means that we're all attending the same commencement ceremony in July next year. It felt like an amazing high, and I really don't care if I fudged up the answers or whatever - I am just glad that I'm done, that I have finished something that I chose to do. There's something infinitely more valuable about your MA than your undergrad degree. Society dictates that we should at least possess a college diploma (although I know a fair number of amazingly successful individuals who have never even finished college but are still heavyweights in their chosen careers); but nobody really said you had to go through grad school. So it becomes a choice, and you go through it knowing that it was a choice and that you have to stick with it because hey, no one put a gun to your head and said that you had to go through grad school. And it's a risk - you lose time and money (at least if you're not on scholarship) and a social life. Especially if you choose to do your MA abroad. You are removed from your home, from the familiar surroundings of everyday life that you've grown up with. Moving from a province to the city is a feat, but moving from one country to another? It's an entirely different ballgame.

I have been incredibly lucky for the past year and a half. I've managed to stand on my own two feet, live on my own in a country that's not home, created a life for myself and made choices that I am entirely answerable to. I've grown up in the past year and a half that I would never have been able to do had I stayed back in Manila and taken my MA in a university like UP or Ateneo. I've been challenged to be the best, in school and in every endeavor I've chosen to do, and to juggle writing with academics, work with school, and a life back home with a life right here. And the universe, for what it's worth, has always been incredibly kind. I've had to work more here than I've ever had to work for my entire life, but at the end of it all, there's still some kind of payoff. And there's this wonderful, adorable man beside me who is holding my hand and lifting me up and staying by my side and I am just amazed at how much he loves me, at how much love one person can hold for another.

And now, there's another challenge coming my way: life after an MA. Sure, it would have been easier if I went back home, but then, where's the fun in that? I've never been in the habit of taking the easy way out, so why start now? I'm just hoping that this risk pays off, and pays off well. I'm crossing my fingers that the universe grants us a chance to be together physically for longer, that I am able to make my way through working in another country and learning the ropes in a totally new environment while still doing the work that I've always enjoyed doing. And I am hoping and praying that everything works out for the best. ^_^

But today, we celebrated. Dinner at our favorite restaurant - Delhi Restaurant along Racecourse Road in Little India - where we had garlic naan and mutton kofta and the most deliciously sinful Delhi butter chicken in the world, washed down with piping hot masala tea. Full and happy, we ambled our way back home, leaning against each other on the train. I fell asleep on his shoulder, and throughout the ride back, I could feel him pulling me close, making sure I was all right, and that nothing would ever, ever harm me.

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