They say being independent is good and helpful, especially for students like me who have dreams to achieve. But what does it really take to become one?

That’s what I realized when I dreamt of becoming independent. And after going through a series of tests, I’ve proven that it’s easier said than done.

Before I graduated from high school, I told myself that I would spend my college years outside my hometown in Mindanao. I wanted to explore and learn the ropes of life on my own.

I passed the entrance exam of a university, and that’s why I’m here in Cebu. I was so grateful that God knew what I desired. Just when I thought everything was working well, I didn’t know that my expectations of a “new life” would be coupled with tough challenges.

When I started out everything–-the environment, people, and lifestyle–was new and strange. Tears flooded my first nights in the boarding house. I cried night after night for the whole first month of the school year! Sleeping, eating and everything I did was all by myself. It was so sad, especially when I twice celebrated my birthday on my own.

Another crazy thing about living on my own is doing the budget. My mom sends me money and I have to take care of my expenses. Good thing I’m a kuripot type. Sometimes I don’t take breakfast and dinner to save money. But I don’t starve myself; I just make sure my money is spent well.

During my first year in the university, I had a very serious and crazy situation. Just one day before the classes started, all my classcards were lost! It was probaly the biggest challenge I ever encountered. I had no one to turn to and ask for help. I was about to lose hope. I prayed and asked for guidance and a miracle. I consulted the school’s secretariat and did all that was needed to get classcards again. The following morning, a store owner near the boarding house called my attention as I was walking toward school. He handed me some of my lost classcards! He said he found a boy playing with them. How thankful was I! It was a miracle–an answered prayer.

The biggest adjustment I made was in school. I had to cope with the university’s norms and with new friends. It was not easy for me to adjust with to my classmates’ varied personalities. Fortunately, I was able to. We’ve been together through thick and thin for almost two years now, and I’m glad they’ve become my family away from home.

I could say that being away from home has a positive effect on me. Living alone, I’ve learned how to budget time, money and resources. I’ve learned how to deal with problems in practical ways. It has helped me develop more self-discipline and self-trust. In fact, it has drawn me closer to God because I consider Him my companion in survival.

With what I went through, I realized that life is not easy. It’s a tough road to travel and we have to cross it to survive and find our worth as a person. Let us enjoy the trip and make those challenges serve as fuel in reaching our goals.

Kimberly, 18, is a Mass Communication student of the University of the Philippines Cebu College. Though she is not really fond of writing, she finds it an avenue in expressing her emotions.

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