Tuesday, December 10, 2013

First Week In Sprott Shaw

I started a new chapter in my college life at Sprott Shaw College last September 23. You can read about my decision to go there in this post. Yes, you can read that before you continue with this post. Just tell me when you get back.

Are you done yet? Oh, awesome. Where were we? Oh, right. Sprott Shaw. I'm gonna talk to you about my first week as an International Hospitality Management student.

The first week of classes is usually a week-long orientation. In my first day, I walked in the classroom and I heard no English at all. When I was toured around the campus the week before by the administrative advisor, I saw signs posted on the bulletin boards that said Sprott Shaw College was an English only campus. They had this rule because in the business world, English is the commonly used language so it was basically training for those who weren't used to speaking the language. That rule was not being followed at all in my orientation class. I heard Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean. So basically, I was stuck with my fellow Asians. Sure there were also people from other nationalities but a lot of them were East Asians who never bothered to speak any English whatsoever.

There were no seats in the front row so I opted to sit in the back. I didn't talk to anyone because I didn't really care about my classmates at all. I didn't know them and I didn't want to get to know them because I know that they won't all be comfortable talking to some guy who didn't speak their language. I saw people of the same nationality in groups. I didn't see any Filipinos around my age so I was stuck in the back with no one to talk to. For that entire week, I never bothered to talk to anyone. I didn't know any of their languages. I only knew Filipino and English and I can definitely say that I consider my English to be below average.

Not that I really wanted to talk to anyone in the first place though. I wanted to be serious. I wanted to do well in class. I didn't want to make the same mistakes I did when I was in UST taking up literature. I promised myself "Ralph, no more stupid decisions. No more crushes. No more feelings. No more pink puppies. You have to do better. This is your fourth year." I really didn't like how my last year in Literature ended with me basically not putting any effort at all because I knew that I was leaving and won't have to suffer the hell that is thesis writing. That was all in the past. I was in a different field now. Hospitality Management is a lot different from Literature and I wanted to get through the program  day by day.

The first day of orientation was about the Sprott Shaw handbook. We had to go through that book from cover to cover. It was basically about the general code of ethics, the dress code, the grading system, and all the essential rules you'll see in every school. One of the rules I can remember is "Dress professionally" and a week later, I saw guys going to school in flip flops. Wow, definitely "professional" of them. I guess the dress code is not that implemented much after all but then again, I'm just the new guy.

Later that day, we were told that we were all required to do a presentation. A minimum of 3 minutes and a maximum of 5. We had to do a presentation because most of the subjects we were going to have would require everyone to have a presentation in front of the class. This was training.

I immediately thought, "Oh crap, I'm gonna die here. What if these people are better than me in presenting?" I really wanted to leave the campus after that because I was panicking at that moment. We were then told that the presentation could be about anything such as your home country, your interests, a special skill of yours, or yourself as a whole.

Thankfully, I had an idea after 2 minutes of thinking and 10 minutes of calming down. My old organization - TomasinoWeb - back in the Philippines had this conference called "BlogCon" (stupid name, I know). I've been blogging for about 7 years now (I still haven't gotten better after all this time). Throughout those years, I've done opinions, advice, videos, slideshows, and stories. I thought, "Ralph, let's do a 5-minute conference. Your own BlogCon. Except yours won't suck. Plus, there's 42 people in the room if you include the instructor. That's basically more than what BlogCon would actually get."

In 2 days, I had finished my script, the stories I was going to tell, and the PowerPoint slideshow itself which included a short clip show of my videos. All I had to do was practice the entire presentation.

On Friday, September 27, I realized that I had to suffer through 41 presentations by everyone else. Maybe this is my pretentiousness speaking (It definitely is) but I didn't know anything about these people at all so why should I suffer through their presentations? "Thankfully", some of my classmates thought it would be a good idea to do a presentation about themselves because they didn't bother preparing a PowerPoint at all. Christmas has clearly come early because some girl I didn't know introduced herself to the class with no preparation, with no visual aid, and with a voice that sounded like a mouse being muffled by a pillow. Hallelujah.

Almost every presentation was boring because not everyone presented an interesting topic. We had people talk about their home country (which were actually really interesting, to be honest). We had one girl show us how to fold a shirt in 3 seconds (Oh god). The most insulting to me, however, was the guy beside me. He was writing his presentation on a piece of crumpled paper while everyone else was doing their presentations. His presentation was (what a surprise) about himself. He never bothered to make an effort and as expected, his presentation garnered yawns from everyone.

The longest presentation we had was about dancing. One girl in class thought it was a nice idea to do a presentation about dancing. She even had videos. Too many videos actually. All in all, her presentation lasted above 10 minutes. Occasionally, I would turn around to face the instructor and give her a look that asked "Are you seriously letting her go overtime?" I was bored so I decided to read a book on my eReader but the instructor saw me and told me to listen. "Oh god," I thought, "this is how I'm going to die, right? Of boredom."

When the presentation about dancing ended, I was really pissed off at that point. I thought, "Okay, since I had to suffer through boring presentations and one extra long presentation, you're all going to pay." I let my ego kick in and I didn't care anymore. I was going to show these people that I had enough. I let my ego kick in and I was gonna show off.

I actually altered my presentation minutes before it was my turn to present to the class. I wasn't going to be just another guy delivering another monotone presentation. I wanted these people to remember me whether they liked it or not. I let my ego kick in which meant I had to turn up the volume, the humor, the anger, and most of all the sarcasm. I no longer cared if I went overtime. If I did, I'd gladly face the consequences.

"Hello, everyone," I started. "I'm Ralph. I apologize for my bad English."

My presentation was really different from everyone else's. I had graphs (with facts that I made up to sound smart). I had visual aids. I showed them screenshots of the blogs I manage, including this one. To add to my already 5-minute presentation, I showed the class the title sequence that I use for my videos complete with loud audio. I gave them details on how I wrote "How I Never Met Your Mother".

"If you go on a time machine, a TARDIS perhaps, and you somehow arrive in my old university in 2011. You'll see me in the library typing and moping about some girl he liked and had no chance of getting."

A little self-deprecation never hurt anyone.

I even gave them a pep talk on how to write a blog. I was showing off to a whole new level as I really believed that I was having my own blog workshop, giving a talk to aspiring writers.

Here's the final part of that pep talk.

"If you blog to be famous, you are doing it wrong. Being popular because of blogging is not a right, it’s a perk. Popularity isn’t guaranteed with every blog post you put up. It doesn’t matter if 5 people or 500 hundred people read your blog. No blog is a failure. You are not there to impress anyone. It’s yours. It’s not a newspaper editorial. It’s not an academic paper. You are there to express, not impress."

I even gave them an acronym to remember.

"There are three letters every blogger should know: ABT

A = Always
B = Be
T = Typing

Always be typing. If you don’t type, you don’t post. If you don’t post, you kill your blog. If you kill your blog, CONGRATULATIONS! You killed your happy place.

Here's another four letters of a blogging process you need to follow:

A – Attention – Do I have your attention now?
I – Interest – Do my topics interest you?
S – Suggestions – What can I do to improve?
A – Action – Take all the suggestions into consideration and then improve your grammar and writing style.

I showed you the door to your happy place. Will you open it?

And that’s how you run a blog, my dear classmates."

With a cocky smirk, I ended my presentation. I got the loudest applause in class. As I returned to my chair, my apathy towards everyone else's presentation reached new levels because my ego was still kicked in. "I'm done with my part," I thought. "No one can top that."

Yes, I alienated people from talking to me but I wasn't there to make friends. I was there to reinvent myself as a good student.

The most hilarious thing happened that night though. I noticed that there was a huge spike in my blog views. It rose by 150 views. I immediately thought, "Wow, everyone just loved me. Thank god for me." My ego was still active.