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  • Malaika Paculan

Freshie First Impressions

When you’re forced into an unfamiliar environment, at one point or another, someone’s going to ask you about your first impressions.

Hear from our very own ACTM freshmen what their first impressions were getting into the Ateneo in the midst of extremely unusual circumstances:

Question: What are your first impressions of the school, the community, and the course?

“In general, my first impression of ADMU and the community is that it is a highly competitive and intimidating environment. As a freshie, I was pretty scared about [whether] I could find friends or even keep up with all the academic requirements. Since we would be online, it worried me even more because I was unaware and afraid of what I was about to face. I was clueless on how I could connect with people and if I were to have a memorable freshman year. CTM intimidated me as well as I expected people to be highly independent, business-minded, and overall have high standards for everything. I was unsure about how I could fit in, in such a new environment.” (Portia Mercado, X3, feeling Spotify DJ)

“When I initially started at ADMU, my first impression of the Ateneo community, or CTM in general, was that everyone was intimidating or unapproachable. I honestly didn't expect that I'd pass my first choice, which is CTM in Ateneo. Therefore I was worried I wouldn't be able to fit in. I had no idea how to approach men, especially after spending my entire childhood at an all-girls school. As a result, I was anxious about managing myself in this new environment because I was unaware of how to approach each member of the community.” (Sab San Juan, X2, dancer)

“Overall, pretty intimidating, since I didn't know much going into any of this. [But] ADMU, its community, and CTM seem to be filled with friendly and kind people!” (Tony Bengzon, X2, motorsport lover)

“I guess I’d say that most of my first impressions of Ateneo stemmed from the stories and feedback of other people. However, not all of it was negative. [While it was regarded as a prestigious university notorious for its difficult entrance exams,] I’ve had friends from higher batches and relatives say that they adored Ateneo. They said that university had given them experiences and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.” (Liana Lu, X4)

“In picking a school and a course, I had to consult people I knew who were involved in either or both. From word of mouth, the school left an impression that its environment was of a challenging type. The people were said to be competitive and “pabibo” but undoubtedly friendly. Especially in CTM, or the “marketing” of Ateneo, there are creatives who can make you doubt your own competence and skill because of their vivid and almost incomparable talent.” (Jonnie Cheng, X1, watched the whole HIMYM series 4 times)

“My first impression is that the Ateneo community is very student-centered and really caters to the needs and concerns of Ateneans. I feel like they're very welcoming to everyone, despite their backgrounds. CTM, on the other hand, gave me the impression that it’s full of creative and talented people who excel in countless skills and competencies.” (Mel Santos, X4, dislikes cheese)

“I was pretty excited entering Ateneo. The community seemed welcoming and I was particularly stoked to experience its widely known "org culture". As for my course, I initially thought I wouldn't "fit in" CTM. My blockmates looked scary, the atmosphere seemed uptight, and most of all I don't really consider myself artsy! Hala.” (Kleid Pedraja, X2, big fan of mint chocolate)

“My first impression for the ADMU, Ateneo community, and CTM in general would be how welcoming and friendly everyone is, and I can say that my first impression is really accurate! I really feel like I’m coming home to a place that prioritizes growth, and I appreciate the lengths that the upperclassmen go through to make sure we’ve acclimated ourselves to college ☺️” (Yanna Sanchez, X3, listens to classical music when studying)

“Ever since, I have always thought of Ateneo to be the best school for me to discover my interests and capabilities, hone my skills, and at the same time, it would feel like home because of the Ateneo community. I came from the Ateneo Senior High School, and from the very start until the end of the school year, I saw how much the school cares about the well-being of the students. [N]ow that I am in college, the people around me are very welcoming, and their treatment is still what I like most about the school. [T]he first thought I had was the course could be challenging even if I was interested in it. Now that I am taking it and I know what lies ahead, I can say that it is indeed challenging; however, the Prepcourse, the facilitators, and the upperclassmen under [ACTM] made it easier for me to take on the challenges. I did not feel any pressure and hierarchy around them in fact, so far, they are very approachable, friendly, and fun to be with.” (Dea Sarmiento, X, Dog Lover)

Question: How accurate have your first impressions been so far?

“I still will maintain that Ateneo is a university that feels intimidating. However, now that I experienced how the university operates, I still feel like Ateneo pushes for excellence. But they do it with compassion. They make sure that the voices of their students are heard and they give them opportunities to thrive and grow. I already knew that CTM would probably be full of extroverted people, but I did not realize how friendly they all were. I had never met them before, but once we started talking, it felt like the boundaries of being strangers were gone. [W]hatever the reason it may be, the CTM community is an accepting and comfortable place to be.” (Liana Lu, X4)

“[A]s ORSEM and ACTM Prepcourse came, I realized that everything I thought about was a misconception. Everyone was so accommodating. I enjoyed that all upperclassmen were approachable and were excited to meet freshies like me! All my doubts turned into enthusiasm. As the days go by, I always look forward to learning and the potential of becoming close to different batches in Ateneo. I believe they will make my years of college fun and memorable, even through online, because of their positive and charming attitude for all freshies like me.” (Sab San Juan, X2, dancer)

“I discovered that CTM isn't all about being "artsy", but more of being able to communicate ideas to your audience in fun, creative ways! And so far, I'm really, really enjoying my time. COA RecWeek just concluded last week and a lot of my fellow freshmen are already starting to receive their application results. As for the CTM community, I was totally wrong! Through Strive, I got to meet new friends from my course who are so fun, friendly, and caring. I also got to know more about my block as the first few weeks went by. Love ya, X2!” ((Kleid Pedraja, X2, big fan of mint chocolate)

“I think that all of them still hold true until now, the people I've encountered are great! I'm still a bit intimidated but am getting used to the environment quite easily.” (Tony Bengzon, X2, motorsport lover)

Question: Is there anything else you would like to say?

“I denied many opportunities by picking CTM, but so far I’ve had no regrets. Though by the way things are going, I do not think I’ll be looking back.” (Jonnie Cheng, X1, watched the whole HIMYM series 4 times)

I am happy with how I started the school year because of my experiences, and I am really looking forward to having face-to-face classes to meet friends, coursemates, orgmates, and professors.” (Dea Sarmiento, X, Dog Lover)

“I’m only in my 2nd month as an Atenean, and I could say that I really feel welcomed in the community. Big thanks to all the upperclassmen who were very supportive and encouraging!!” (Mel Santos, X4, dislikes cheese)

“I’m super grateful for all my upperclassmen who are always there for us freshies! I feel comforted knowing that they are people we can easily approach and are willing to help us! All your advice and tips will be super helpful and I really won’t forget about my freshman year! 🥳” (Portia Mercado, Block X3, feeling Spotify DJ)

​​Change is never easy. There is so much uncertainty. But, above all, it is my greatest hope that all our freshies—and you, reading this—know that you’re not alone in all the intimidation and uncertainty that change can bring. I hope you’ll always be up for the challenge.

I’m excited to see what’s in store for you.


All credits for the elements in the banner go to the rightful owners. Photos from Pinterest.

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