Wednesday, June 26, 2019

5 Mistakes test-takers make in board exams

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The September 2019 Librarian Licensure Examination is around two months away. I remember the nervousness the few months before the exam. For most, passing the board exam is an important stepping stone in one's career. Most professions require a license to practice, and your future can depend on the results.

The board exam can be the most nerve-wracking exam of your life! Unlike exams in school, there's more at stake in a licensure exam. That's why a lot of people really make an effort in studying and reviewing.

I took the board exam for Librarians last 2015, and I also teach review classes for those about to take the exam. In my perspective as both a test-taker and a teacher, here are the bad habits I've noticed that may negatively affect a taker's results:

Sometimes, we really have no choice but to cram. Not all of us have the luxury of free time to spend on reviewing alone. Time is also an issue for those who have full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities. However, unless you are so smart or you absorb information very quickly, it is better to study a little at a time than cram near the exam. If you are very busy, you can find a time to schedule your review even if it's only 30 minutes a day, or a few moments while commuting to work or during work breaks. If you really want to pass, you will make the time for it and find a way to do it. As the Filipino saying goes, "Kapag gusto, may paraan." (If you want it, there's a way)

Sometimes, knowing that you crammed makes you nervous in taking the exam. If you can, it's better to study in a relaxed pace for a longer period of time than rush near the event.

Memorizing instead of understanding
In the board exam, memorization is really necessary as there are some facts and knowledge in the profession we should know by heart. We need to memorize, sure, but we should understand the basic concepts first. It is easier to memorize when you understand thoroughly.

In the librarian's board exam, you may have to memorize key persons, concepts, and the basic outlines of the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress Classification system for organizing library materials. But you also need to understand how this is used in the actual library situation. In the exam, there may be questions that test your practical knowledge with situational questions. For example, if this is the scenario or problem in the library, what is the best course of action among the choices given?

Not preparing
In a board exam, you don't only need to study for the exam itself. There are paperwork and requirements too. Documents such as the Diploma, Transcript of Records, Birth Certificate, Cedula, IDs, and sometimes Certificates are required. One must make sure that your records are complete and accurate. Some may have problems with their names in the Birth Certificate and it may take a long time to correct. School documents take time to process.

In my experience, PRC didn't state that a Certificate of Good Moral Character was required but they asked us for one. I don't know if this is still a requirement (kindly check the recent changes if there are). But since we prepared the other documents beforehand and applied to take the board exam as early as possible, we learned about this requirement earlier and still had time to process it.

Being Lazy
In the review, there are days where we feel lazy. It's normal. We also need to rest! In my advice to students, you should also set aside time to rest between studying and do something unrelated. That's why  I don't recommend cramming since you are pushing your brain too much and you won't have time to rest.

However, we should learn to control our laziness and have the discipline to study even on days we don't feel like doing it. Passing the board exam entails hard work and not magic. The earlier you study, the more effort you put in, you are increasing your chances of passing the exam.

Not taking the exam seriously
I've noticed that some test-takers don't really put in an effort in reviewing and have failed the exam several times. In my opinion, if you are going to take the exam, then use all the resources you have and do everything you can. I know that each person is different, and there may be circumstances we can't control that may affect our results. But if you don't really want to take the exam or prefer taking it later, then maybe other options are better.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Avengers: Endgame [movie reaction]


I waited for the hype to die down before writing my reaction to Avengers: Endgame. Most of you have probably watched it by now, but for those who haven't yet, I'll be talking spoilers below (or maybe you already have an idea about the story because the internet won't shut up about it).

This year 2019 seems to be the end of many stories and movies. The Avengers franchise, the Star Wars sequels, and Game of Thrones. It makes sense, when this year is the end of another decade, and next year will be the 2020's. Endgame is THE END, the final conclusion to this story phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which started with 2008's Iron Man. 2012 gave us the first Avengers film, where the six main Avengers first team up against Loki. That story was a major blockbuster and a classic "vastly different people try to work together for a common goal" story. Over the years, especially in this decade, Marvel superhero movies has been very popular and is a big part of pop culture.

As for Avengers, I have been an avid fan of the story for many years. I have written reactions of past Marvel movies in this blog too: Captain Marvel (2019), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Black Panther (2018), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). So far, my favorite Marvel movies are Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and the Ant Man movies which I only watched prior to Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame happens after Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos has taken all the Infinity Stones, snapped his fingers, and half the population of Earth turns to dust. Except for the original six Avengers, of course. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Thor, and Clint Barton also have to deal with their failure in stopping Thanos.

In the movie, we see a different sort of Avengers. They have always won before, but this is the first time that they failed and felt that there is really no going back. Tony goes back bitter, Clint's family is gone, Thor's home and his brother are forever lost, Bruce tries to move on. Steve and Natasha try to keep it together, and still have not lost hope that they can reverse the situation somehow. The other Avengers still do what they can to keep the world in order.

Scott Lang (Ant Man) eventually returns from the Quantum Realm and suggests a wild idea to the remaining Avengers, a weird possibility that if they can pull off, just might save everyone. They try to retrieve the Stones again, and it will be a scary journey and challenge that will really test them.

Tony Stark (Ironman) starts a family and has tried to move on. When Scott, Natasha, and Steve proposes a possible solution to bring back those who were lost, Tony initially refuses. Though, one character trait of Tony Stark since his first movie is he always, always tries to do the right thing and save what he can even when it's a danger to himself. Pepper Potts has also always tried to stop him, but to no avail. This time, though, Pepper has accepted that it's what Tony is, and let's him do the right thing.

Bruce Banner's (Hulk) existential crisis has always been living with two personalities - the smart, calm, analytical scientist and the 'angry green monster'. It was weird to see that he decided to combine the two - he eventually lives with Hulk's body but has somehow found a way to stay in Bruce's mindset. So we get a calm, nerdy Hulk. Which is kind of weird and takes time to get used to.

Thor also suffered a lot and changed. After the five-year time skip, he's depressed and hopeless, contrary to the Thor we're used to seeing. After losing Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok and deciding to get his people to Earth, he came face to face with Thanos and lost his brother. They lost. I think his reaction to it is pretty reasonable even if he's practically a god.

Clint Barton (Hawkeye) also lost his family. After that, he didn't seek out the remaining Avengers, instead choosing to work as a mercenary assassin for various gangs and shady groups all over the world. Nat finds him again in Tokyo, and his fight scenes are probably the coolest in the whole movie. This movie also has many great Clint/Natasha moments.

Steve Rogers (Captain America) has still not lost hope, and is still on the lookout for something that can reverse the situation.

Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) is also on the same boat as Steve. I love how Natasha's character has evolved throughout the films. She had a dark past, and working with the Avengers has given her life meaning, and she considers them family. Since the first Avengers film I really love Nat's relationship with Clint Barton. "Whatever it takes," is what Steve and Natasha always says, and they're both the beacon of hope that they can finish this mission.

As for the other Avengers, there's still War Machine, Rocket, Nebula, Captain Marvel, and Okoye still working with the main team. Though Thanos snapped away half the population of the planet, they still try to keep what remains in order.

My favorite in this movie is probably Ant Man. Paul Rudd is funny as usual and I was really amused with all his scenes. Without him, their plan wouldn't even be done.

I also love Nebula in this film and it showed how she changed from the first Guardians of the Galaxy films. As one of Thanos' adopted daughters, her duty was to follow him. Nebula always wanted to prove herself to him, though always falling short. She had a troubled relationship with her sister Gamora, even if she acts like she hates Gamora, Nebula has always been insecure and jealous of her sister.

There are many scenes on Nebula, showing her struggles, and how she confronted her past.

As an Ending
I love how this movie tries to pay tribute to previous movies. There's many smart references throughout this movie and avid fans will have fun trying to spot them.

I love endings that make sense, that neatly ties up the story and does justice to the characters. Many people didn't really like "Fat Thor" though. Thor was depressed throughout the five-year timeskip and gained some weight, which was meant to be comedic. Some viewers saw it as fat-shaming. I personally didn't like how Captain America made some decisions there.

Tony Stark or Iron Man is one of the characters that really carry the Avengers stories. The ending, though tragic, I think did him justice.

I actually watched this film three times in the cinema! First, I was alone. The second time, I accompanied a friend and the last time was with my sister who didn't get to watch it on its opening weeks. Though we all know that it's not really the 'ending', since another phase of the MCU is starting, and there will still be stories around the main characters and maybe we'll see new people and superheroes too.

I think the Avengers movies and the MCU really defined this decade. Over the years we have grown up with the characters and loved them, watched their stories and relationships. We may not be superheroes ourselves, but even with fantastical elements in the story they are still facing the same challenges we face. I think that's what makes these movies such a big hit.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Register now! PLAI WVRLC Regional Conference on July 25-26, 2019

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The annual PLAI WVRLC Regional Conference will be on July 25-26, 2019 at 4th floor, Henry Luce III Library, Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City. This year's theme is Forward, Onward: Librarians towards Self and Community Well-being.

I always look forward to attending PLAI Regional Conferences. Aside from learning what's new in the region and the librarianship field, these regional seminars are always mini-reunions and I get to meet my classmates, old schoolmates, and friends in the profession.

You can now register online in advance through this link.

Click to download a copy of the letter of invitation.

For more information, refer to the letter of invitation below:



The Philippine Librarians Association, Inc.- Western Visayas Region Librarians Council (PLAI-WVRLC) in partnership with Central Philippine University is holding the PLAI-WVRLC Regional Conference and General Assembly on July 25-26, 2019 with the theme “Forward, Onward: Librarians towards Self and Community Well-being” at the 4th floor, Henry Luce III Library, Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City. This conference has the following objectives:

1. Improve librarians' financial status through financial literacy workshops that would equip them with the skills and competencies to manage their finances.
2. To update issues from government agencies related to the work of librarians (DOLE, PAGIBIG, SSS & GSIS)
3. Improve librarians, library clientele, and community stakeholders’ well-being through bibliotherapy sessions and stress management.
4. Train librarians to organize and promote local studies collection towards the preservation and dissemination of local history and culture.
5. Update librarians with the latest trends and practices in quality assurance and accreditation for Libraries through a workshop and mock accreditation activities.
6. Share, discuss and relate issues on data privacy at work and in the society.
7. Hold the PLAI-WVRLC General Assembly for the Year 2019.

In view of this, PLAI-WVRLC cordially invites you to participate in this event. Rates are as follows:
P1,200.00 – PLAI Members
P1,500.00 - Non-PLAI members/Paraprofessionals/Foreign Participants
P 500.00 - BLIS students

Registration fee is inclusive of 4 snacks, 2 lunches, kits, and certificates. For inquiries, please contact cellphone numbers: 09562380475/ 09098254908/09202198767. You may also email at or at The officers of PLAI-WVLRC do look forward to your coming to this event.

Sincerely yours,
President, PLAI-WVRLC

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Boy Named Alex [Black Ink Comics Review]

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I read books more than graphic novels, but I do read some comics or manga when I find good ones. In the local publishing scene, there has been a growth of books that were originally posted in the popular website Wattpad. There are local publishers to specialize in printing stories from Wattpad. Black Ink is a local comics publisher, a part of Precious Pages. Judging from their covers and storylines, their stories are aimed towards the Wattpad reader demographic and they also try to appeal to manga and anime fans with their art style.

To be honest, most Wattpad stories and novels aren't really my cup of tea. When I try to read them, I can't get past the first few pages. I'm not saying it's bad, just maybe not for me and I haven't found a story that captivated me. I have an account in Wattpad to read stories and hopefully post some stories in the future.

I found this particular comic, A Boy Named Alex, in Booksale SM City Iloilo branch. What caught my attention is the plot I read on the back of the book, which tells that one of the characters is a librarian and the story is also set in a library. Here's a description of the book from the Black Ink Facebook page:

Genres: Comedy / Slice of Life
Written by Herbs Navasca, Illustrated by Mike Banting
"Malaki ang respeto at paghanga ni Alex sa pinsan niyang si Diwa. Ito kasi ang kanyang guardian habang nag-aaral siya sa Maynila. Sa pansamantalang pagtatrabaho ni Alex sa library bilang isang OJT, nakilala niya ang librarian na si Yal Ogana. Istrikto pero mabait ang kanyang Kuya Diwa. Istrikto at masungit naman si Yal.
Habang nakakasama ni Alex ang kanyang Kuya Diwa at si Yal, hindi niya maiwasang mapuna na may kakaiba sa dalawa. Para kasing hindi lang magkaibigan ang mga ito. Mukhang inililihim lang ng dalawa ang tunay na damdamin para sa isa’t isa."
So what do I think of the story and how it portrayed libraries/librarians? Read on.

The story is set in the Philippines with Filipino characters. Alex is a new student at a university in Manila. Since he's from the province, he lives with his cousin Diwa, who works for the school's security. Alex then works as a student assistant in the university library, where he meets his strict boss, Yal who is the library director. Alex notices that Diwa and Yal know each other, but after some time he notices that the relationship between Diwa and Yal might be something deeper.

I think the story is really cute but it was too short. Though the cover and the title is about Alex, it's not all about him. He adjusts to life in Manila and dealing with his strict supervisor. I like that there are some words from his dialect in the comics, though most of the dialogue is Tagalog.

The main romance is between two guys (Yal and Diwa), and the story is about them and Alex's reactions to them. The title can be a bit misleading since the main relationship isn't really about Alex. I like that it tackles same-sex relationships as something normal. A story like this would be portrayed as something more dramatic if it's in a teleserye, for example.

As for the art, it is very good. The style is inspired by manga. I like that the story represented moreno characters as well.

Libraries and Librarians: did the story portray them well?
No. I think that the librarian character Yal is an image of a stereotypical librarian - wearing glasses, strict, traditional, and masungit. In the story, Alex is an IT student and he suggests more technology in the library like online databases and research which the library hasn't adapted yet. I don't think that a backward university library (especially set in Manila) is still a realistic portrayal of a library. Yal is also the only library staff we can see in the whole story.

I'm also a bit confused why they used the term "OJT" to describe Alex's work in the library. We usually use the term "on the job training" for your job training or internship during the last year or semester of your course.

Anyway, it's okay since the story is more focused on romance than getting the library or librarian right. I just think that as an experienced librarian, the portrayal is a little inaccurate though Yal is an interesting character.

Link to a preview of the comic

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lost in Singapore 2019, part 2: Sentosa, Universal Studios, Little India

This is part 2 of my blog entries about my Singapore trip this April (read part 1 here). I couldn't include everything in one post because it would feel too long. Here are the other places we've visited and my thoughts about the place.

Sentosa Island
Sentosa is an island near Singapore, connected by a bridge. The place is a popular tourist destination and is home to beaches, resorts, hotels, a casino, and theme parks. Visitors can cross to Sentosa by car, monorail, or the cable car. The most popular attractions are the Universal Studios theme park and Resorts World casino.

Universal Studios
A trip to Singapore isn't complete without a visit to the theme park Universal Studios. It was okay but it wasn't my favorite part of the trip. It was smaller than Disneyland (I enjoyed Disneyland more). There are many rides, shows, and short movies inspired by Universal Studios movies. There's something for fans of Jurassic Park, The Mummy, Shrek, Transformers, Sesame Street, Battlestar Galactica, Waterworld, and others. I'm not that familiar with anything else except for Sesame Street and The Mummy.

If you want to visit the place, it's quite sunny and hot during noontime and afternoon so carry an umbrella or a hat. Here are some of the parts of Universal Studios I visited:

Some ogre's house... maybe Shrek's
The facade of Ancient Egypt
"Revenge of the Mummy" ride entrance
Some Ancient Egypt-dig-inspired ride
Bert and Ernie in some Sesame Stree's 50th anniversary special
Little India
Some pictures of Little India in the morning:

This is my favorite part of our Singapore trip. Just like Malaysia, Singapore is a multi-cultural country, with the Malay, Chinese, and Indian groups. I love Indian culture, their mythology, art, fashion, and religion. In Malaysia, I visited a Hindu temple for the first time. I also went to the Batu Caves in Malaysia, a whole complex dedicated to Hinduism.

Since my mother is also interested, we also went inside a Hindu temple in Little India, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. It is dedicated to the goddess Kali who is the goddess I like best in the Hindu pantheon. I'm really amazed by the intricate, complicated, and exquisite art you see in Hindu temples. There is so much detail and color in everything, it would take a while to observe and really see the sculptures and paintings adorning the temple.

Inside the temple. Many are simply sitting down to meditate there.

At the back of the temple's main building. Look at all those details!
For shopping enthusiasts, Little India is a good place to shop for cheap souvenirs and for Indian goods such as saris, jewelry, accessories, and even furniture. I bought some clothes and colorful bangles.

Going back to reality + Thoughts
Most of the time, people would say "Singapore is smaller than Guimaras island," which is true. But for a small place with limited resources, they really make the most of what they have. The public transportation is efficient, the place is safe, and a visitor will not have many problems (except for money). Most people also speak English, and I've observed that they are generally approachable and kind to those who are asking questions.

Singapore is classified as a first-world country, and for someone like me from the third-world, the experience of visiting the place can be quite eye-opening. Little inconveniences in our daily lives that we experience almost do not exist in other places (traffic, brownouts, water crises, etc.). I also envy that they have very low tax compared to employees in the Philippines, but residents can see where the money goes!

One can see that the place was really planned well. The Philippines has so much potential for progress, but there are so many things getting in the way. I realized why so many Filipinos go abroad to greener pastures to work because life in the Philippines can be hard. We met with a relative who has stayed there for 9 years, and she probably wouldn't earn as much in the Philippines.

I do want to visit Singapore again next time. I've been to three other countries outside the Philippines, but this is the place I am most impressed with. I also want to experience working abroad even once in my life, and Singapore is one of the places I'm considering.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Lost in Singapore 2019, part 1

Last week, I was in Singapore with family. This is the fourth country outside the Philippines I went to (after Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia). Before a couple of relatives expressed interest in going to Singapore, I already wanted it to be my next destination to go alone. I was planning to go around December, but then my grand-aunt and another aunt decided to bring along me and my mom. It's also the first time my mother went to another country (problems with getting a passport). Our other two companions are both senior citizens, so they brought me along because I'm the millennial techie and they might need someone to use Google Maps or other stuff they're not really familiar with.

The four of us shared something in common: our love for the Crazy Rich Asians books and the movie! I'm a fan of the book and even watched the film the very first day it came out in the Philippines. I wrote a review of the movie [click for link]. The story is mostly set in Singapore, and it's exciting for me to go to places where most parts of the movie were set.

We stayed for four days and three nights, which I think is enough to go to the highlights of the small city-state. Though I do plan to go back in the future because I was so amazed by the place! From Iloilo, we took a connecting flight to Manila, then headed to Singapore from there. It was my first time to ride the larger Boeing 777 Philippine Airlines plane, and it featured those entertainment touch-screen devices with movies, tv, music, and games. It was pretty big and comfortable even for Economy class, and the four-hour flight passed by like a breeze. The airline food was good, I should say.

Since three of my companions were older, we decided to book a package tour from a travel agency. If I'm alone, I'd rather not go through that route, I prefer exploring a place alone. But they also didn't want to stress over transportation. The packaged tour though a bit more expensive also has advantages: the plane, accommodation, transportation, and guided tour are all included. I liked this tour more than my first trip abroad since we also had plenty of time to go around the place by ourselves.

First, Changi Airport. Singapore is probably the only place with an airport I look forward to going, since Changi Airport has consistently been called "the best airport in the world." I agree! The design, the ambiance, and space are like works of art. It's the only airport I don't mind waiting in.

"City in a Garden"
I was amazed because on the way to our hotel, the street was lined with plants and the air feels very clean. Flowers and trees lined the way and after a long flight, the sight is relaxing and beautiful. Even in a modern city, they still try to preserve nature.

Transportation in Singapore is pretty easy. The train system is very efficient and it's not too complicated. The trains are maintained well and with the many trains available, you won't experience the worst of the Manila MRT life. I also notice that there are signs saying that eating, smoking, and drinking in public transportation is prohibited and there is a $500 dollar fine for violators. Even with strict rules, I appreciated how it was followed and you can really see the results.

Marina Bay Sands
Our first stop was the iconic Marina Bay Sands of Singapore. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of Singapore aside from the Merlion. It is an 'Integrated resort' with a mall, casino, and other cool stuff. There are high-end shops inside, and there is also a great food court with good food.

View from the Esplanade
Inside the mall
On our last night in Singapore, we also went up the building itself to the topmost floor called the Skypark with a good view of the whole city. It was on the 57th floor, and while I was the one who suggested this first, my fear of heights kicked in. It was worth it, though. I think that if it's your first time in a city, one should go somewhere with a good view of the whole place.

Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is one big complex with curated gardens. There are two large greenhouses, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, which has plants inside them. They use a certain technology to keep the inside of the domes cool. There are different plants, flowers, and trees inside. It's like a big living museum of plant life and it's a great place to visit. My companions who love gardening and flowers really enjoyed it there.

It is one of the notable locations in the movie Crazy Rich Asians. You might recall this place from the Colin/Amarinta wedding reception scene.

The 'Supertrees' structures with real plants growing

Plants and flowers in the Flower Dome
A man-made waterfall inside the Cloud Forest Dome. 
 Old Chinatown
While Singapore is known for its high rise buildings and breathtaking architecture, they still preserve the old parts of the city. In our guided tour, we also went to the part of the city where the old low-rise buildings are still preserved.

Other City Stops
As part of the guided tour, we also went to several short city stops. We stopped by a Chinese Buddhist temple, Mount Faber, the Esplanade, and some stores.

On the way to Mount Faber, 340+ feet hill with a view of Singapore
View from the top of Mount Faber

This ends part 1 of my Singpore trip. Next is part 2, about Sentosa Island, Universal Studios, and Little India. I will also write about my thoughts about the country.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

On 25 years

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Picture from Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo
I turned 26 years old last Sunday. Yet I was in a mall the day before my birthday, eating and enjoying a chocolate-covered vanilla popsicle ice cream, feeling more twelve than twenty-six.

I remember a friend once said that 25 is a special age, a sort of turning point, where you will do new and different things with your life. Her words turned out to be true. I'm actually still struggling with *adulting*, but so far, it has been a good 25 years!

The past year, I:

I Traveled alone for the first time. I went to a month-long unforgettable trip to Taiwan for the whole of July and some of June and August. I went to Malaysia alone, and these journeys made me want to see more of the world.

Last month, I started painting again. After a long time of feeling frustrated with my writing, I found myself restless. I then remembered that when I was a kid, I used to draw. I had a very strong feeling to try to do art again, even as a simple hobby. Then like a call from the universe, I saw an ad on Facebook for a beginner's painting class near me. I took the chance and I met a great teacher. Here's a few of my first works (acrylic on canvas), the first two are from the art workshop while the third is trying to follow a Bob Ross tutorial:

I mourn the lost years I didn't do this, but then I realized it's never too late to start. I found that painting is very calming and an excellent practice in focus and attention. Even if the work is not perfect you have a serene sense of accomplishment. Filling a blank canvas with color and life, mixing colors with light and shadows, it feels really nice. I'm still at the beginner's stage of copying other works and learning the basics. I want to paint surrealism soon like Rene Magritte, one of my favorite painters.

I didn't really celebrate, since for me birthdays are reminders that I'm getting older. I just ate out with my parents and had afternoon snacks with relatives. My colleagues at work surprised me with a simple cake. That's about it.

The highlight of my birthday though, was meeting an old high school friend who I haven't met in almost ten years! Reminiscing about the old days brings back those memories you've forgotten. Being a teenager was not my favorite part of my life, but seeing a friend reminds me that it wasn't so dark as I remembered. It was actually fun and sometimes you look back on the past and it seems that you're a totally different person now - there were some things about myself that I hated back then but are actually great. After that, I felt like there was more to me than what I think.

As for my future plans, this year I hope to finish my thesis and graduate for my Master's degree, and eventually move out to live on my own. After the year ends and my job contract ends, I may try to find other opportunities. I feel like I'm still searching for the meaning and purpose of my life, something still seems to be missing. I feel restless, like I'm not meant to be in my hometown and I might try to get out of here for a while to see other places and figure out where I want to be.