Equatorial Rites is always the same story: same colors of becas, same awards, same ceremony; hundreds of students lining up for their turn on stage, rounds of applause in recognition of the awardees, photo-ops around the campus after the program proper. It’s the same midpoint that all juniors pass, a point that marks half of our journey as students in UA&P.
But why bother memorializing the middle of a journey? It’s not the beginning where our old selves reside, anticipating a future full of hope; neither is it the ending where our changed selves lie, holding a past full of both failures and accomplishments; it’s not the promising start and not the wonderful end.
Third year of college is the middle: you are no longer freshmen who feel awkward in a new school but you’re not yet seniors who are getting ready to leave for the “real world”. You’re well-settled in UA&P with your own group of friends, an org you’re dedicated to, and a course you’re (hopefully) sure of. You know where in school you study best, what your favorite stall in the caf is, and how to be on time for your next class after PE. There isn’t anything spectacular or particularly noteworthy about junior year, but these are the days we wished for in high school, the days we’ll remember once we graduate. Many unremarkable details will be the subject of our reminisces in twenty years’ time: cramming papers, joking with friends, walking in the halls, staying up late in school, and even just sitting in classes.
Being halfway in our studies tells us that we’re halfway through the hardships and heartbreaks that college life inflicts on us. However, it also tells us that we’re halfway through the happiness it has gifted us with, too. All these unrepeatable experiences that we are living through are unique to each one of us. No one will completely understand how much you had to persevere to pass a subject or how ecstatic it made you to get an uno in another; other people would not understand the fear that hits you when you see a certain prof and the giddiness that strikes you when you catch a glimpse of your crush; even your blockmates wouldn’t grasp how clutch the submission of your paper was and how overjoyed it made you feel when you got a perfect score for it. And still, in spite of having gone through almost two-and-a-half years of college experiences, you haven’t experienced yet everything that your four- or five-year stay in the university can bring.
Being in the middle means being entrenched in routine and familiarity, being set in security and serenity. It means feeling at home for at this point, UA&P is home. Being halfway lacks excitement but there is a certain comfort that comes with knowing our place and where we belong.
Equatorial Rites is always the same story: they are a salutation to us students, officially welcoming us to the school of our future professions; they’re a marker for how far we have come and how far we have left to go in this university; they’re a commemoration of the ordinary, humdrum days that we will soon remember as the quintessence of our college lives; and they’re a reminder to feel at home in this university that has always welcomed us and will always welcome us in the many years to come.
And yet, it’s always a different story.