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Ateneo Survival Guide: University Culture

Every school has a unique culture all its own.  In fact, the atmosphere of a school may very well be one of the deciding factors of whether to study in it or not.

If you’re thinking of studying in the Ateneo College, allow me to tell you a little bit about it.  This should also help mitigate the effects of the culture shock for you as well, especially if you didn’t come from the Ateneo high school.

Before I proceed, a caveat:  I’ve based the following observations on my experience of the school’s culture at the time.  Since the only constant is change, your experience of the said culture may end up being a little different from what I’ll be describing here.

The People

My mother once told me that you could immediately spot an Atenean by counting the number of books that that person carried around.

Of course, that was during her time.  Nowadays, Ateneo college students can look pretty laid back—except during exam time.  If it’s the geeks who carry the books, it’s the rest who carry themselves with a certain sense of confidence or accomplishment.

Oh, and it’s fairly easy to spot a guy who came from the campus’ high school—he’s usually the one following the ladies around.  Seriously.

The presence of the fairer sex may be no big thing for you if you’ve spent some time in a co-ed institution, but for those who’ve had to live with a sausage fest for four years, studying in the college may be likened to a captured wild stallion escaping his corral.  It is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

Over on side of the university’s teaching staff, expect to run into a motley crew of professors and other school staff:  they can range from the extremely orthodox to the delightfully kooky to the maddeningly eccentric.  Some may astound you, others may entertain you, still others may bore you to tears, but one thing’s for sure, you will learn something from them, regardless.

Campus and Academic Life

One look at the Ateneo compound will tell you that it’s quite conducive to the pursuit of knowledge.  Several buildings housing classrooms, departments and other facilities are spread out over the entire campus.  The landscape people made sure the area was dotted with grassy fields and a bit of foliage for good measure.  All in all, it’s perfect for contemplative walks or peripatetic sessions.

Like any good academic institution, Ateneo has its fair share of student organizations for that extra-curricular flavor.  In fact, there are probably just as many organizations as there are courses.  Some organizations cater directly to certain majors, such as the various management societies.  Look around enough and take your pick—chances are you’ll be able to find something that captures your fancy.

The academic pace in Ateneo can get pretty hectic during the so-called hell periods (hell week, hell month, etc.).  Fortunately, the University has its set of chapels and its very own church where one can concretely practice theology.  It’s not surprising to see the number of pray-ers getting down on their knees as the final exams draw closer and closer.

The Choice

If this sounds like a good atmosphere for you, by all means, apply at the Ateneo.  It won’t be an easy journey, but then again, the really worthwhile experiences normally aren’t.  If there’s one thing I can guarantee you about it, however, it’s this:  after going through it, you’ll never be the same again.


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Please be advised. Thank you.

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