Welcome Freshmen!

6 Jun

Note to the freshie: This article seems too lengthy, but if you feel lazy reading all of this, wait ‘til you get your college reading assignments.


Three words describe College Life: Choices. Choices. Choices. So we’ll introduce a key concept in making choices: the opportunity cost., which is also the core concept of Economics, before anything else.

Opportunity Cost
You’re in Ateneo now not only because you passed the ACET but also because you actually chose to study here. Maybe it’s because aside from the quality education, you also liked the color blue, or eagles, or both. Let’s say your other choice was UP because you liked the color maroon and you wanted to pay a lower tuition fee. Unfortunately you can’t study in both. Believe it or not, you used the concept of opportunity cost to decide.
First you considered that studying in Ateneo means not studying in UP. You gave up the chance to study in UP upon deciding to be an Atenean. The value (not necessarily in terms of money) of this second best choice which you gave up is called the opportunity cost. So you can say that the opportunity cost of studying in Ateneo is equal to the happiness you would have gotten by studying in UP. The happiness you get from what you chose should always exceed the opportunity cost. In other words, studying in Ateneo makes you happier than studying in UP. (Yes, you can now see how economists complicate simple things, but this is what you got yourself into.) Now that you’re in Ateneo, there are a whole lot of other decisions and opportunity costs to consider. Here are some tips:

1. How to choose teachers
You can always ask the upperclassmen which professors to pick, or which electives to take. Your choice depends on what you value and what you’re willing to give up. Let’s say Professor Reyes (fictional) is a terror professor, gives low grades, but teaches extremely well. Meanwhile, Professor Santos (fictional) is a kind professor, gives high grades, but doesn’t know how to teach at all. If you choose Professor Reyes because he teaches extremely well, you also gave up getting high grades and being treated like a human being. If you choose Professor Santos because he gives high grades, you gave up being actually taught something and feeling constant fear. It all depends on you, economics just gives you tools.

2. How to choose electives
You have to choose which PE and Science electives to take. Chemistry is great if you’re happy with the periodic table of elements, formula memorization, even a bit of geometry and drawing. Physics has less memorization than Chemistry, but a lot more analysis and problem solving. Biology has the most memorization work, and drawings you need to do. Environmental Science is the most diverse, and takes a little bit of everything from the three prior subjects.
Pick the PE you really enjoy if you still have slots to choose from.
However the difficult part here comes if you’re made to choose which to sacrifice: the convenience of your schedule, or the enjoyment you get from the elective. For example: if you really like Chemistry, you will be able to ace it even if it’s offered at 730am—that is, unless you cannot function at all early in the morning because you like to work late at night.

3. How to choose where to eat
There are four main places where you can dine: The Cafeteria in Gonzaga Hall, SOM Mall or JSEC, Manang’s, and ISO.
The Cafeteria is the most convenient place to eat in terms of location. This is because it’s in the heart of the Loyola Schools so it wouldn’t be so hard to leave this place just a few minutes before your next class. Unfortunately, this is also the least ventilated. You might arrive in class on time but you might be soaked in your own sweat, or gasping for fresh air. It can get pretty crowded here too. Get used to asking complete strangers if the seats beside them are already occupied. Most of the food here is affordable.
SOM Mall or JSEC is a semi-outdoor dining area. It’s a lot breezier than the Cafeteria. Most of the food choices are more expensive here, but some dishes are more “interesting” (e.g. Thai Cuisine). Usually you’ll be around JGSOM students, and seats will also be scarce during lunch time. It also has a good location since it’s within the Science Education Complex where a lot of classes are being held.
Manang’s is located near the College Covered Courts. It is not a collection of food stalls—Manang’s is a single food stall which serves home-cooked meals like pinakbet, menudo, adobo, lechon kawali, etc. The food is affordable here. It’s also semi-outdoor, and lots of greenery. But it can get crowded pretty quickly, since most of the students taking PE classes dine here.
ISO is just there because of the epic sisig—and the seclusion from the tumult of a place that is Gonzaga.

4. How to choose where to study
You can choose from several study halls, the library, even the places where you dine, benches around the university, and other places, like your dormitory or home.
If you want to minimize distractions, go to a place without a computer nearby, or internet access. If you like a quiet place, the library and the study halls are excellent choices; however, it can get cold in these places at certain times so don’t forget to bring a jacket. These places can also induce sleep.
The cafeteria is a good place if you’d like to have a bite while skimming your textbooks, or you’d like a noisy atmosphere to study in.
You can always retreat to your dorm or house, but your bed and your internet connection may serve as temptations.

5. How to choose where to relax/have fun
Since Ateneo itself offers the greenery you need to feel serene inside, you can practically choose from the many benches and other areas where you can sit around. Reflection, meditation and doing nothing can be remedies to your collegiate fatigue. However, be warned about the itchy worms or “higad” which can drop on you anytime you’re under a tree. If you’d like to be in these places, you give up the safety from being driven mad by an itch.
You can also choose from the dining places, sleep in the library or study halls or your dorm.
And of course there are the myriad of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, internet cafes, and many more along Katipunan Road.

The process of deciding requires you to also have even more information (some of which are less obvious). As a future economist, you ought to know that information advantage does wonders to you, especially in a quite unpredictable college setting. So here are some of the cheat codes you may need to thrive in the sea of blue.

Collusions, Part I

The first group you’ll have in Ateneo is your block. For your first two years, you and your blockmates get to share a lot of things: free time, OrSem, good classes, bad classes, terror profs, etc. Apparently, the cheesy song line that says “United we stand, divided we fall” more often than not holds true in your case. Help each other out, know each other, and keep that bond close if possible.

On a parting note, to revise a common quote, “The barkada/block that studies together (at the same time, in the same place, though not necessarily the same subject) graduates together and gets to go to Boracay together after.”

P.S. The moment you get well-bonded with blockmates, please do make it a point not to block the whole pathway or walk too slow when you walk together. Other people might need to rush from CTC to Bellarmine for class, and an obstacle course is the last thing they’ll ever need. You’ll understand it more when you become an upperclassman.

Freedom (or the illusion of)

We have good news for you. YOU HAVE CUTS! We mean, you may actually skip class and the prof usually won’t give a damn that much. Except that you can only cut so much, around 9 for an MWF class and 6 for TTh. The prof won’t give a damn that much as well if you over-cut; he just puts an F on your final grade. So like a valuable resource, you got to use your cuts wisely, depending on your standard of “wisdom”, that is.

And unlike high school where you spend almost the whole day in class, you only get to have half of the day at most for classes. Some even have four-hour breaks in between subjects. So that leaves you with a lot more time in your hands which can be allocated for quite a lot of awesome stuff. Join an org (more on this later), study in advance (the path less taken), sleep in the lib, play Left 4 Dead or Rock Band, stalk your crush (on Facebook or in actual life). Just make sure that, like the cuts you have, you spend your time to its optimal worth.

Collusions, Part II

And since you have more time on your hands, you might as well want to expand your connections beyond your blockmates. There are a lot of groups and orgs in campus which cater to your interests. There are home orgs, theatre groups, music groups, outreach groups, varsities and the like. These groups and orgs also serve as a support system for you, your interests and upcoming challenges. Feel free to join as many as you can, but do remember that joining is just a small start. The main fun in joining an org comes with being active in it.

• Rooms (especially classrooms) are codenamed with a letter or three followed by three numbers. The letter is usually the first letter of the building where the classroom is, and then the first of the three numbers indicates which floor the room is in. For example, the classroom B101 is in Berchmans Hall, the first room on the first floor. (Oh wait, that’s not a classroom. That’s the girls’ CR. Sorry, my bad.)
• Here are the letters and the buildings they stand for: F- Faura, K- Kostka, X-Xavier. G- Gonzaga, B-Berchmans, SEC A/B/C- Science Education Complex A/B/C, SS- Social Sciences, L- Leong, C- Schmitt (don’t ask me why), Bel- Bellarmine, MVP- Manuel V. Pangilinan Student Leadership Center (lakas talaga ni MVP), CTC- uh… CTC, the one beside SOM, which stands for the School of Management.
• TBA means “to be announced”. Because some things in life are better left to destiny. Don’t let wily upperclassmen lead you to… “Tiburcio Bagumbayan Auditorium” (totally fictional), or “Tomas Benavidez Auditorium” (that’s in UST, and there isn’t even a Tomas on that building’s name).
• AMDG means “ad majorem dei gloriam (to the greater glory of God)” or “ang matulog ‘di gagraduate”. Pick your poison.
• We’ll leave it up to you to define hell week. Clue: Finals, cramming, coffee.

What to bring:

Here are a few more things you may want to bring, aside from the stuff you really need to bring (like ID, readings, pens and PSPs).
• 1X1 picture, preferably one for each subject. They go along with…
• Index cards of different sizes. Teachers usually want you to write basic info about yourself (name, address, contact number, answer to “What is love?”) on the first day of classes.
• Adequate amount of coins and 20s. This is for emergency trips to the photocopier, vendo machines and tricycle rides to restaurants for block eat-outs.
• Sneakers and clothes that are dress code-friendly. If you happen to avail of a locker, it may be useful to store these for the emergency trip to the library or department.
• Wristwatch. Because being late means a half-cut at the very least. You’d rather use that cut on UAAP games don’t ya? And please do set it in Ateneo time.
• Umbrella. Because Ateneo often assumes that its students are waterproof (and then proceeds to go on having classes even during heavy rains), you got to be as close to being waterproof as possible.
• Tupperware box, spoon, fork and tumbler. The school really loves nature so much that it doesn’t bother to remove the higad or install additional aircon units. And with this love comes the strict environmental policies, with the 5 trash cans for every corner and all that. Do bring these especially when you want to take your food out, since the caf won’t let you take their utensils outside.

Miscellaneous Tips
• Information advantage is very useful when you get to choose your class in the coming semesters, especially with the random number system of enlistment in effect. (Again, that’s something better left to destiny. :P) Though you only get to choose your Science and PE class in your first year, you get to have more choices in the coming years. It pays to know which professor would be OK for you. Friends, upperclassmen, and other sources (like RegBlue and Atenista.Net) can be source of god info about them. If you can, also try to know where the air conditioned rooms are, especially if you’re the weather-sensitive type.
• If you want to do ghost-hunting, try going to Bellarmine Hall and the old Department of Communication Building, near the college covered courts.
• The best comfort rooms are in Leong Hall. The worst (just because they’re one of the oldest) are in Faura Hall.

(Acknowledgements to Atenista.Net, ORSEM blog site, my own freshman guide two years ago, and other freshmen guides from other schools.)

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