Cliff Tree

Cliff Tree

From afar
the stars taunt
so I reach out
for the trees
instead.

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Of bitterness and exchange programs

Why do humans have this unending desire to be thanked, even for things they did not have any hand in fulfilling?

When I applied for an exchange student program last year, I did it with a mindset of “it doesn’t matter whether you get in or not, at least you tried.” I did it with no one to help along the way. I applied without telling my parents. I applied with no hopes of ever getting in–because in my mind, and I knew it was the same with everyone else’s–going on exchange, actually flying to another nation, was a dream so seldomly achieved by many in our country. Especially by people in our age group.

In the Philippines, flying to other countries is a luxury only the rich can afford. So it was no wonder that, when I got my confirmation, I felt anxiousness and and dread along with excitement. Where would I get the money? Since only our tuition would be paid, how would I be able to eat and stay alive in one of the most expensive cities in the world? It was no wonder I hid my acceptance from friends and relatives–because I was scared that I would not be able to go anyway, even if I had the opportunity. It was no wonder there were only five of us who eventually flew to UBC, instead of the original six chosen.

Fast forward to the present however, and to the reason I wrote this post. My exchange studies is coming to an end. What surprises me is that my facebook is teeming with friends who have tried to apply for other exhange programs. Whenever I see these posts, I know I should be cheering them on, and congratulating those who have been accepted. And I try to. I try to sound my best, I try to give them the best advice, but my words sound insincere and hollow, even to me. I can’t type in smilies, because I know I am not smiling. I want to be happy for them. I do. But somehow I can’t.

I can’t help but think that these people would not have applied if we, people they know, weren’t accepted in the first place. I can’t help but think that our acceptance triggered a chain of hope in the people we know. That, because of us, they realized it was actually possible.
I know it’s selfish, and I know it’s a frikkin I’m-the-center-of-the-world perception, but that’s why I am writing this. I want to face my shortcomings, and face these imperfections head on. I’d like to think this yearning stems from my bitterness that I only have about a month left before flying back to the Philippines and waking to reality again. Or maybe it’s because I realize that there will come a time that one day, I’ll be the one back in the Philippines seeing their posts abroad, and it will be just another reminder that I have left and finished an experience like nothing before. Or maybe I’m just that selfish.

Whatever the answer is, I’m trying to let it all out in this post. And maybe start congratulating my friends who have been accepted to new programs…

And start replying with smilies.