Blog Archives

Beyond Schooling

We stop schooling at a certain age but we should never stop learning. Learning is a lifelong endeavor and education is not confined to the four corners of the academe. The process of acquiring the desired knowledge, skills and values should continue even after graduation.

Schooling is not the only way to learn. There are other ways to obtain knowledge, develop skills, and cultivate the values required for us to become the best that we can be and function as productive members of society.

The foregoing assertions should not be construed as an attempt to undervalue schooling rather they should be viewed as arguments against the perception that not going to school to get a formal education is a reason for us not to be able to  maximize our potentials and succeed.

Not everybody has the financial resources to afford formal education from kindergarten to at least college and not everybody who has the capability to pay would also have the interest and enthusiasm for schooling.

If parents are well-off, the higher the possibility for the children to finish at least an undergraduate degree. That is if said children believe that education is a key to securing a good future. It is rather ironic that sometimes those who have the money to spend for education are not motivated to go to school and those who have the motivation to do so don’t have the capability to pay.

For some, not having enough financial resources is not a hindrance in the pursuit of a good education. We heard a lot of narratives about people belonging to poor families who worked while studying, earned their degrees, then eventually succeeded in life.

But there are people who also attained success even if they have no university diploma. A few of them even made it to the Forbes’ list of richest persons in the world. The oft-repeated stories of the Bill Gates and the Steve Jobs of the world support the assertion that a bachelor’s degree  (or higher – Master’s and PhD) is not the only key that could be used to unlock the doors to wealth, fame, and success.

It can be argued that  a university degree does not always guarantee success in life in the same manner that not having it means that  a person’s future would be  bleak. It all depends on how those who manage to earn  degrees and those who did not play the cards their circumstances dealt them and the way they maximize their opportunities and whatever potentials they have.

There are degree holders who could not find decent jobs citing the lack of job opportunities as reason. Conversely, there are college dropouts who do not relish the idea of being under someone’s employ. So, they charted their own destinies and created their own opportunities. Check the list of the Forbes’ list of billionaires and you’ll be surprised to see some how many are actually college dropouts.

There are specific professions requiring prolonged training and certain qualifications that can be acquired only through formal education. This is when schooling becomes a necessity. But there are also occupations where formal education is not required. Artists, athletes, and business men for example need not have a university diploma. The degree they need is the degree of expertise they must exhibit in their respective arts, sports, and business.

It can also be argued that the schools could not possibly teach all of the competencies and skills we need to acquire aside from those required by whatever professions or occupations we have embraced. And even the said competencies and skills we learn while schooling need to be honed and upgraded. There’s more learning that must be done beyond schooling.

And there is one thing that we ought to learn when we start practicing our chosen profession or occupation – live a balanced life.

Life is not all about work and work is supposed to be “earning a living” and not “slowly killing one’s self.” While we may work hard to achieve whatever we want in life – money, degree, fame, and what have you, we should not sacrifice our relationships and health. Don’t work unreasonably hard that you may earn your millions just so you have money to spend for your hospitalization when you get sick. Living a balanced life means taking care of your work or business without sacrificing your health and disregarding the family and friends who need your attention.

Overcoming Homesickness

homesickness2(A Personal Essay)

Longing for home – that’s the simplest way to explain what homesickness is. It is the feeling of sorrow that results from leaving behind loved ones and friends to go somewhere far, usually overseas, for a long period of time

Well, a lot have been written about the subject. The loneliness one feels when away from home is the theme of many essays, stories, and poems. There are also movies about homesickness and plenty of books and speeches sharing tips on how to overcome it are available.

As an expat working here in South Korea (since 2013), I can say that I am no stranger to homesickness. I am  so familiar with this emotional experience. I know how it feels to be hundreds of miles away from the comfort of home and the warm embrace and assuring presence of friends and  loved ones. I know how discomforting it is to be in an unfamiliar territory where almost everything is different from what one was accustomed to.

There are people claiming to have never experienced homesickness. Well, good for them. What about me?

I  waged a battle against this  emotional discomfort during my first weeks here in South Korea. I thought that mentally preparing for a departure from my comfort zone would be enough to help me overcome whatever challenges that await me in this country, including homesickness.

While waiting for the day I would fly to this country,  I tried to  prepare for it mentally by accepting that I would not be with my family for a long time and that my wife who takes good care of me and prepares everything I need wouldn’t be there to help. I thought that somehow I could also prepare emotionally for  a life away from my country and my family by simply accepting that it would  soon be my reality. I was wrong.

Excitement overwhelmed me when I came out of the plane at the Gimhae International Airport. I was so happy  seeing South Korea for the first time and thinking of my good fortune  for being given the opportunity to teach here. But the euphoria was short-lived. Upon entering the apartment the university provided, the reality that I was by my lonesome in a faraway place, something that I thought I have already fully embraced when I departed home, seemed like tiny needles starting to prick my emotions.

When I began unpacking, I recalled the conversation I had with my wife and my son while they were helping me stuff all those things in my luggage.  I remember how the lady of my house tried unsuccessfully to control her tears. I remembered also the phone calls I made to my parents. It was less than a day of being separated from my family and I was already missing them. Just that  and all of a sudden my first episode of homesickness kicked in. Sadness crept in slowly. The early spring weather giving me a chilly welcome exacerbated it.

I tried to dismiss the thought of me feeling homesick by thinking that I was just tired, hungry, and cold at that time. But the feeling lingered in the next days notwithstanding the heater in my room, the multiple layers of clothes in my body, and the hot and spicy foods on my table.

I dreaded the coming of night and the weekend for it meant being alone in my room. At least when in the workplace I have the company of my colleagues and my students and the work made me preoccupied.

During my first two weeks here in South Korea, I was in a funk and I knew I couldn’t afford to stay that way or else my job performance would be adversely affected. So, I resolved to eradicate the problem.  I know I have in my repertoire of skills something that I could summon to help me figure out how to get out of the said funk – my ability to bounce back from adversity.

The first thing I did was stop denying that I was longing for home. I stared homesickness in the eyes. I treated it as a problem so I would be able to have the mindset that it could be resolved.

And much that I was missing home and my family, I tried to see if Skyping  my loved ones in the Philippines longer than usual would help. Thank God It did. I pushed it further by requesting my wife as well that when we’re done talking she should not cut the Skype connection. I even told her to bring the laptop in any place in the house where I could see her and our son. That worked more wonders for me. Seeing my wife and my son moving around our house in the Philippines doing what they usually do and hearing the songs they listen to and other familiar sounds  – the roosters crowing, the dogs barking, the horns of vehicles honking – was emotionally comforting.

It’s hard to believe but I had homesickness figured out within my first month here in South Korea. Thanks to Skype and Facebook Messenger. Thanks also to South Korea’s fast internet connection that allows me to make a video call with my family practically anytime and wherever I am – home, office, or even in the mountain when I was hiking.

I and my family could Skype as long as we want. But it couldn’t be for 24/7. There are times as well that my wife or my son have pressing concerns and other things to attend that makes connecting with them impossible.

Those are the times when I pursue my other passion – writing. I write stories, essays, poems, and research papers. I write in both English and Filipino. It’s only a hobby. Yes, sometimes I get paid for the things I write but I am doing it primarily for the immense joy and sense of satisfaction it gives me.

I have a lot of free time here in South Korea that I was able to create and maintain my own website (M.A.D. LIGAYA). The said website serves as repository for my writings.

Maintaining my website and creating its contents have been making me super busy so much so that I could no longer find time to be homesick.

There were times that I could not even Skype my family because I was busy attending to my website.

Nowadays, whenever people ask me how I got through homesickness I already have a definite response –  through “Skyping” my family and writing.

Anyway, there are other activities that I do after work  not only to keep homesickness away but to achieve work-life balance – watch movies and the sports I love, go to the gym, read books, and watch videos on personal growth and development. You may say I have a boring routine. But it works for me. Of course, I go out with a very few selected friends during special occasions. But basically, I am a lone wolf. That is by choice for I wanted to avoid vices, troubles, and negative conversations.

%d bloggers like this: