Things we miss (but look forward to!) in face-to-face classes: CS edition!

Kyla Javier

After months filled with anxieties and uncertainties of many aspiring Iskos and Iskas, the results of the University of the Philippines College Admissions were released yesterday, July 15. Considering the slow vaccine rollout and overall government incompetence, it is likely that the next batch of freshmen will enter the university through remote learning. No Zoom meeting nor Google classroom will give you the feeling of being in campus, so here is a list of what’s missing in the College of Science (CS) freshie experience:

1. The UPCAT Experience

My memory of the UPCAT is still vivid even if I took the exam four years ago. It was a Sunday afternoon in Malcolm Hall. My friends who took the exam the previous day warned me about the freezer temperatures in the testing site, so I brought the warmest jacket that I had. I’m pretty sure I had a chocolate bar in my bag but I didn’t have the chance to eat it, given that the time allotted for each exam subpart is barely enough.

I don’t remember much from the exam itself, apart from long texts in the reading comprehension part of the exam that I had to skim through in record time. I found it difficult, like any other student, combined with the cold temperature, the constant panic, and the smell of fast-food takeout my seatmate was eating that made me feel hungry. Despite all that, I got in. (Now, I’m trying to figure out how to get out.)

2. Campus tours!

UP Diliman is a huge campus and it’s easy to get confused about where specific buildings are located and how to get there. Luckily, student organizations and student councils conduct campus tours before the start of the semester. The first tour I attended had an amazing race format, where students were split into groups and were tasked to complete challenges in different locations on campus. The most memorable part of that tour is the Area 2 station, where we were tasked to buy the signature mango graham shake! Due to the current remote learning setup, campus tours are just limited to Google Earth or aerial 360° photos of the National Science Complex. It’s sad, really, because nothing beats the fatigue and sweat from exploring places on campus.

Art by Deitro Dazo

3. Colorful jeeps in campus

Jeepneys on campus come in three colors: red, yellow, and green. The red jeep is bound to Katipunan white the green jeeps are either bound to Philcoa, Pantranco, or SM North. The yellow jeeps are the ikot or toki jeeps, which circle around the campus. Most first-time riders of ikot or toki panic when the jeepney exits campus. Don’t worry! When face to face classes were still a thing, the ikot jeepney exits through the portal near the Centennial dormitory, and enters the campus again through the portal near NIGS. Because of the current situation, the jeepney routes have changed so freshies and the freshies at heart will have to learn these new routes together!

4. CS Library

The College of Science Library (CS Lib) is the go-to tambayan of students during their vacant hours. The library has multiple cubicles and work spaces for students who want to work during their free time. There are also couches for you to get comfortable and to unwind before your next classes. Taking a nap is not a problem too, as long as you wake up in time for your next class.

In the basement of the CS Lib building, a 24-hour study nook is located where students usually stay during hell weeks. There are bean bags and yoga mats that you can use when you want to take a break from your studies. Make sure you are registered in the library as soon as you get your Form 5, so that the ID scanner at the entrance will greet you, “Welcome” when you scan your ID. There is nothing more embarrassing than the scanner telling you and the whole library that you have an “Invalid user ID.”

5. Speed walking

The pre-enlistment of classes in CRS gives you the illusion of free choice. It won’t take long before you realize that no, you don’t have a choice but to get that Math 21 class that ends at 2:15 pm and a Kas 1 class in Palma Hall that starts at 2:30 pm. You have no choice but to run, or to speed walk, which I prefer. Sometimes professors will give you a grace period before they mark you late when they notice that you are always out of breath when you arrive in their class, but most of the time you just have to accept that everyday is leg day in UPD.

6. Foodtrip!

There is no shortage of food in UPD. In CS, every institute has their own cafeteria inside their buildings. According to Scientia staffers, the best cafeteria in the college is NIGS, which is not surprising. The NIGS cafeteria offers a wide variety of meals, snacks, and drinks. They also have a television to watch if you are bored or if you want to space out while savoring your pork sinigang. The MBB cafeteria is also a crowd favorite. Personally, my favorite is the IC cafeteria.

Aside from institute cafeterias, kiosks can also be found outside the Math building, where you can buy Pancit Canton, fish ball, dynamite, junk food, soft drinks, and many others. There are also vendors that sell banana cue, carioca, and taho.

Outside the College of Science, the go-to food places for students are CASAA, located at the old Zoology building in front of the Sampaguita Residence Hall, and Area 2.

7. The org life

Orgs are not mandatory for students but they make your student life more exciting and fulfilling! Despite the online setup, orgs pushed through with their application processes. However, nothing beats the experience of spending time with your members in your org tambayan during meetings and during tambay hours. The weekly meetings of Scientia staffers in our office is something I definitely miss. Someday I hope the freshies (and freshies at heart!) get to spend time with their members in their respective tambayan spots!

8. RTRs and mobs

No GE class in AS or CAL is complete without an RTR. Progressive organizations conduct RTRs (room-to-room) to educate and inform students about current pressing issues, usually accompanied by members of the marginalized group involved in the issue. Most of the time, RTRs end with invitations to attend mobilizations in solidarity with the marginalized groups.

Mobilizations, or mobs for short, are not an unusual sight in UPD. They are mostly held at the façade of Palma Hall. In the College of Science, climate strikes are held in the CS Amphitheater. Some professors may allow you to attend mobs without marking you absent so be sure to check with your professors in advance!

9. Laboratory classes

Laboratory classes are integral parts of the life as a CS student. No Youtube video can replicate the feeling of despair when you accidentally over titrate, and your phenolphthalein solution turns dark pink. No flash player simulation can replicate the fear I felt for my life when we launched metal balls in different angles to demonstrate projectile motion. No dissection diagrams can replicate the chaos that occurred in our Bio 11 lab class when we dissected a cockroach. Despite all these, the efforts of our laboratory instructors to adjust to remote learning are immensely appreciated. We just have to wait for the time to come when we can finally inhale some chemicals in our laboratory classes.

10. The company of friends and classmates

Surely, learning is the main point of going to college, but the highlight of college life is the people you meet and spend time with! All the sleepless nights studying and working on requirements feels worth it, knowing that you can celebrate with your friends afterwards. You can reward yourself with some milk tea after a long day of classes, and even disappointing scores can be remedied by a round of samgyup. A strong support system can really help you get through everything!

Are you getting excited to experience the UP life, especially in CS? If you don’t want to miss out, hold the incompetent people in power accountable for taking these things from us and maybe, we can see each other on campus (and in the Scientia office, ahem) next year!