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Friday, June 01, 2007

Playing big brother

When I stepped into college and I was forced to live semi-independently, it wasn't much of a problem for me. For starters, I have been semi-independent since my mom joined my dad in Bahrain back in second year high school. Second, I have one of my high school barkada for a roommate in a boarding house. Therefore, the adjustment period and possible bouts of homesickness weren't a problem either. Lastly, even when I transferred to an apartment more than a year after, I still had my orgmates / housemates who served as my older brothers and sisters away from home. So yeah, living in the city has been pretty convenient for me.

Living in an apartment in college, for me, is better than living in a boarding house or a campus dorm. Of course the latter options do have perks.

For example, in a boarding house, you don't have to do the cleaning of the house or the room. If you're lucky, your landlady would even cook meals for her boarders. But alas, there's the curfew, haha! Not that I stay up late outside -- but on the few times I do get out to unwind, I don't want a curfew to impede from from maximizing the night's fun.

Campus dorms' location is one of their best advantages. The nearer you are to your classes, the better, right? But in many cases (like mine), the closer I am to the building, the greater chance for me to oversleep and be late, haha! Plus, there's the communal bathroom. I don't want to have to queue up to take a bath. But in the end, when the cost is 10x smaller than an apartment or a boarding house, yes, a dorm is the best option. Haha!

But having said all of these, apartment is still the best option for me. For a number of reasons. Let's start with the shallow and obvious ones.

*There is no curfew
*You can bring as many appliances as you want
*You can arrange or decorate your unit to your liking
*You can bring your girlfriends or boyfriends with you, inside the house
*You can do anything you want! (Well, of course, unless you live alone, you'd have to be considerate of your housemates' living quirks)

But for deeper and more personal reasons, apartment is the best option for me because simply, it's the closest thing I have for a home. There are many useful things you can learn when you live in an apartment. What are they you may ask.

First, you learn to be more responsible. Why? There are bills to pay. There are dishes to be washed. There's a bathroom to be cleaned. There's a room to be cleaned. There are clothes to be washed. See? Would you learn to do this these things if you lived somewhere else? Well, you probably have no ambitions to be a nanny, so yes, technically, you don't really have to learn these things, especially if you're a spoiled rich kid.

It gets more complicated though when you are the most senior of your housemates. By default, you are looking out for your kids.

When I first settled in my current apartment (which I will refer to as 34G, after its unit number), I was the youngest, the bunso of 34G. My older orgmates / housemates served as my kuyas and ates. I relied on them a lot but they happily looked out for me, teaching me to do a lot of things on my own in the process. I was happily secured with the setup. There was an unspoken 34G hierarchy, and the higher you are at the hierarchy, the more responsibilities you had as a housemate. There came a time when I found myself at the top that hierarchy, mainly due to the natural order of things. The older housemates, my kuyas and ates, had to move on with their lives and move out of 34G.

When the older housemates were still around, I was grateful to them but I never understood the gravity of their responsibilities. But I appreciate them more, now that they are gone. Yes, the different cleaning chores and household tasks are equally divided among us housemates, but being the 'big brother' entailed a lot more. Many times, you would have to be the 'landlord' as well, haha! I never realized that indeed, living in an apartment is pretty much like living on your own already. To stretch it even furthur, it's also like having a family of your own. You're not only in charge of the house but of the inhabitants as well. There's this unwritten task of teaching the younger ones to be more responsible as housemates and as individuals.

Many times, I felt like I am not up for the job. My former kuyas were so good, I feel like I can't live up to the high standards they've set. I feel like I can't take care of my own set of 'kids' now the way my former kuyas took care of us before. In fact, there are even times when I'm the one who 'needs to be taken care of', but alas, I only have me to look out for me.

But at the end of they, there are lessons to be learned, and I am relieved to have learned them well. Patience, indeed, is a virtue. Practicing a little more understanding can save you a lot of headaches. And that, 'kids' will be 'kids' after all. I should know better, I was a 'kid' myself before. A very needy spoiled 'kid' at that, haha!

Living in an apartment is virtually a training for the stage life wherein you're truly and fully independent. Yes, cleaning and tinkering with house stuff may seem minor problems. But in reality, they play a bigger part in making life easier and better -- in making your place a true home. You don't believe me? Ask your Moms.

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