Friday, December 07, 2007

Second Courser

One semester consisting of Creative Writing and Short Story ought to have been enough, but no, I just had to go back this semester for additional units. Now I have the dubious distinction of being Ateneo de Davao University's oldest AB English undergraduate.

If things had gone as Originally Planned, this would have been a Master's degree program. However, my own credentials go against me. Ateneo only offers a MA in Education, major in Teaching English. A BS in Electronics and Communications Engineering and 15 years' work experience in the IT industry doesn't really help. I had to enrol in back subjects, so they said.

In local parlance, I am now a "second courser."

"Second courser" is yet another unique though unimaginative Filipino mangling of the English language. Obviously, it means someone who's going back to school for a second course. That second course, however, is almost invariably nursing. Anything else just raises eyebrows and puzzled looks.

If you follow conventional wisdom, there are really only four programs for a Filipino adult who decides to pursue higher education: a Master's in one's present field, an MBA, law, or nursing. All these are commonly viewed as a means to get ahead in the world. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but: is that all there is?

What about new horizons? What about breaking out of one's mold? What about the cross-disciplinary possibilities? What about passion? What about the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake?

If one feels strongly enough about all these, then one should be willing to sit in a room full of young and fresh-faced students, half one's age, and take quizzes with them, and do assignments with them.

Not that I'm complaining, though. My classmates, all just coming out of their teens, give me a perspective I wouldn't normally find in other environments. Many of them are in their senior years, just about to take that wild leap into the working world. Apprehensive? Rightly so, what with the graduation in March looming large.

Truth be told, I feel a little sorry that they can't enjoy the material as much as I do. Many of the topics are new even for me, but I am not fettered by worries about grades (though I make sure to be conscientious about my work, just to show there's no favoritism.) On top of that, I have the advantage of several years of life experience with which to frame the subjects.

While I could have researched the subjects on my own, there's nothing quite like the learning environment that a classroom provides. It's a different experience when you have teachers and classmates to interact with. All in all, the novelty is quite refreshing.

I may be the oldest AB English undergrad in Ateneo de Davao (quite possibly the Philippines), but I feel young. Very young.