안녕하세요, family and friends. Today, I want to be true to my word and let this blog post be a snippet of who I am or who I was at 18.
By sharing to you a short story. Perhaps the story on what started or why this blog was born.
Now, sit back and relax as this might bring about a few unprecedented emotions to surface. Unless, of course, you’re not as emotionally attached to everything you read, unlike me.
Let’s start by going back to the year 2015.
Jo has just received her Sixth Form and UCAS* exam results. Over the moon by getting accepted to one of her chosen Universities, Oxford Brookes, and excited beyond compare with finally being old enough to be responsible for herself.
Bags were packed, leaflets and important documents were fixed and sealed. Or so, she thought.
The night before Jo was to leave for Oxford her parents asked if they could talk to her. They probably wanted to say their farewells in the comfort of their bedroom than out in a corridor of a newly refurbished accommodation building. So, of course she obliged, without being aware of what was to come.
‘Anak*, there’s something your Papa and I want to tell you’. Her mum whispered. It was like she didn’t want to let Jo in on a secret.
The moment the words hit Jo, a flashback came to her mind. A conversation very much like this one, which ended with her bawling. Her face filled with streaks, eyes red.
How could she forget?
Year 10, French trip. She was supposed to be on her way to France. Ferry ticket paid, accommodation and tour paid, bags packed, waivers and school documents fixed. The clock was the only thing Jo was waiting for. Then, her parents turned around and said she couldn’t go. Their immigration papers were still on the works, they said. She wasn’t old enough to understand so she should just shrug it off for now and leave it to them. They’ll fix it…
…but did they?
Three years after, were they about to tell her she couldn’t go, again? Was it still on the works? If so, then it didn’t matter, Jo thought. It didn’t matter if she goes to Oxford or not because they won’t accept her. The university will just send her home if that was the case. Right?
And did that mean this whole time she wasn’t in the country legally? The papers were still in the works after three years? What did that mean?
It’s a good thing she wanted to take Law at University. There was a way to figure out what in the world went wrong. Unless, of course she couldn’t go. Then what?
‘You can still go, even if they don’t give you the student finance. They offer installments, don’t they? Just ask when you get there and let me know, alright? We can work something out. It’ll be fine.’
Those were the only words Jo needed for reassurance. She could still go, they’ll work something out. But that reassurance was only there for a moment cause then her thoughts were swimming in a pool of vastness. Words, phrases, ideas all swirling around in her head.
They won’t let you in. But your mum said it will be fine. No. They’ll ask if you’re legal. Just sleep. You won’t get it. You’ll need to find a job at 18. You won’t be able to keep up. What can you do?
Jo slept, that was the only way to silence the voices.
The next day should be better, and it was. Jo was finally out of the clutch of her parents. Off doing whatever it is she needed to do to find herself and take control. In University.
After one day in Fresher’s week, she already met a couple of people she knew she’ll get along within her course. And those she would most likely lose contact with throughout the span of the year, even if they lived in the same building. The party block.
It was called the party block cause every night since they all moved in they’ve hosted every pre-drinks and after-parties. Although, Jo was the only one who never really drank. She also didn’t leave the building unless she had to go to University.
Three days in Fresher’s week was the actual Enrollment and as Jo was lining up, a representative of the welcome committee asked to see the documents they have. ID, acceptance letters, finances, important documents. The representative got to Jo and asked her to leave the queue and line up somewhere else.
It was then that Jo realised how little she knew about her standing.
The immigration status was still in the works because it was only an appeal. An appeal to get a review on the court’s decision to decline their papers. Re-applying because that appeal got declined was a whole different matter. This appeal and re-applying thing could’ve been prevented if they had just asked someone with better credentials. But since money was tight, and there were a lot of other things going on for that family… They took what they could get.
All of this information in one phone call whilst in front of strangers hounded Jo. She tried hard to hold back the tears but they fell anyway. There was nothing else to do then.
Jo wanted the earth to swallow her whole and leave her in the darkness. What else could she do? That was the last straw, the University had made their decision. They couldn’t let her study without concrete legal papers, at least not until that was sorted.
There was only one thing for Jo to do, get her bags packed again and ready to go back home. To do something God only knew.
- *Sixth Form – Senior High School for those in the US (age range starts at 16 and ends at 18)
- *UCAS – University and Colleges Admissions Service, in the UK
- *Anak – child(daughter) Tagalog(Language of the Philippines)
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.