The JTA Dream

As the days that lead up to our semester abroad get lesser and less, we get caught up in the fast-paced whirlpool of deadlines, presentations, and projects. Most of us desperately want to get this final’s week over with, done with so we can finally move on to our two week vacation (for those of us with a summer semester). We are so caught in the motions and the need to maintain the QPI required to fulfill that dream of ours to go to Europe, America, or somewhere in Asia, that we forget to make time for other things. Yes, JTA is the dream goal we all hope to achieve by the end of the school year, but we should be making time for others as well. Let us not be pettifoggers and get caught up in our default-setting.  

I can’t. I have so many deadlines I’m so stressed! Says many of us. I am a victim of having to say this line to people who wanted to spend time with me. My justification? QPI for JTA. These people of course, understood. But never can I take those chances back. There will be new chances to spend time with them, but they won’t be exactly the same. I had once gotten angry because they started getting annoyed that I would miss out too much because of studying. How could they not understand that I need to do this? Don’t they realize how hard I’ve been working? I would think to myself. Then I realized I was thinking based on the basic self-centeredness I possess, wherein I perceived every action based on its effect on me alone. It’s not bad to study and work hard for what you wish to achieve, but if it turns you away from your loved ones, or people who just want to be present with you, then maybe it’s time to stop and think.

Why do all this running? Was I studying as a result for a yearn to learn, or was it to speed up and ensure my means of getting to JTA?  I would look at numbers or letters on papers as a reminder that I wasn’t working hard enough. All those hectic weeks, and I felt as if I didn’t have any time at all to myself (as if I had not been thinking of myself this entire time).

But I realized that I couldn’t keep pushing people away, as these very people are the reason I am who I am, the reason why I am in the place I’m in now. Human beings are a social and ethical “I”. Responsibility comes first. How was I, in terms of being a daughter, a sister, a friend? When was the last time I had a conversation with someone that did not involve work related matters? Just really being there?

Philosophy has taught me many things, and one of the greatest things that I will surely remember is that a philosopher should make time, and must be aware of what is essential and inessential in daily life. The excitement of being able to decenter in another country, a whole new culture filled with people who have stories to tell, wrapped my head around an auto-pilot setting towards higher grades. I am very sure this hard work will pay off once we get to the finish line, but we also have to remind ourselves that the end does not justify the means. We must be ethical in our actions towards Others, as people have their own experiences, goals, and intentions in their lives that we know nothing about. To enrich our reality, we must experience Other people’s worlds through language and communication, a skill I’m sure we will be using once we hop of that plane.

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