Detours column

[DETOURS] The life of a Pisay transferee

Arwen Candelaria
[DETOURS] The life of a Pisay transferee

Art by David Castuciano

‘High school is already scary but high school while being a new student is absolutely terrifying’

Editor’s note: When you’re a student, you never hope to transfer to a new school and leave your friends behind. But what if doing so would help bring out the best in you? In this essay, Arwen shares her experience as a Pisay transferee who came from an all-girls school. You, too, can share your life’s greatest detours. Here’s how. 

School is a big part of life. When I finished nursery – mostly forgotten due to my underdeveloped toddler brain – I didn’t care about changing schools. I moved to one I chose solely because of their cushioned swing: Assumption Antipolo.

Assumption Antipolo is an all-girls catholic private school. It was like entering a new world; a large campus in the mountains, breezy, and with trees everywhere. Recreation and character-building were the prime focus.

I quickly made friends, never feeling lost and out of place. The years flew by and I thought this was it. Go through elementary and high school in Assumption with my friends and graduate as alumni.

Not to brag but it was easy – too easy, my parents noticed. 

I was an irresponsible kid. Forgetting assignments, blatantly not studying, and doing homework 5 minutes before class were the norm for me. Still, I managed to achieve stellar grades and a career as a student council. My parents knew that the best course of action was for me to follow my eldest brother’s footsteps – move to Pisay (Philippine Science High School).

Everyone knew Pisay. The prestigious school where the ‘cream of the crop’ goes. I hated the idea. I never wanted to go to Pisay. To me, Pisay looked like a boot camp where studying was the only option and as a person who hated studying, I thought I wouldn’t fit in.

My 11-year-old self was already living the dream. Going to Pisay meant I went from sleeping 24/7 to actually having to study. The open-spaced campus turned into a cramped building in the middle of a city. My 7 years’ worth of friendships down the drain. Not to mention having to go through all these while navigating the uncharted waters of high school.

Tell me, wouldn’t you be terrified too?


But, as an obedient kid, I knew my parents only wanted what was best for me so I cooperated… after I cried. But alas, I didn’t even get in. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad but I was disappointed in myself. 

So I tried once more. I went through 7th grade silently knowing that this might be one of the last times I would spend time with the people I grew up with; some of whom I may not see for years to come. 

I was utterly scared to take the test, that I might fail myself once again but I wracked up the courage and did.

And then I got in. 

I went to Pisay as one of the 3 transferees for 8th grade but my fear only got amplified. How can you possibly find your niche group of friends when relationships have already been established? 

On the first day of school, I was scared, awkward, and lonely; looking at my phone and bag, acting like I was busy when I just didn’t want to look like a loner.

The bell rang and I immediately dreaded what was going to happen next. 

Lunch period. 

And I had no one to sit with.

But like some miracle, a girl – now my best friend but didn’t know yet at the time – invited me to sit with her friends, sparking lifelong friendships.

My fear of high school and loneliness faded as time passed. I gained new experiences. I discovered my passion for the sciences and more. I met people I could relate to, finding common ground in hating studying (and Pisay). 

I realized what I actually feared was change. I was content with my comfortable life in my sheltered bubble but that was all it was; contentment and comfort.

Pisay was far from comfortable, not in the slightest. I would study until early mornings and still fail. I was exhausted and would randomly cry because of the stress. But with the people I met and the boundaries of myself I had crossed, I am happy. Not comfortable, but still insurmountably happy.

I do miss my old school. But spending years in Pisay made me found the campus endearing. From the field that never turns green because of the frisbee players running on it, the slippery dark tiles of the corridors, the roof that seems to always fall apart, and the unstable wooden desks; I grew to love all of it.

Back then I would’ve thought this sharp swerve to a longer and rougher road was a detour but this is the path I was always meant to take. It gave me the chance to grow and thrive.

A new milestone – college – awaits but unlike the lost 11-year-old girl, I’m not scared. There will always be that underlying fear but this time I am ready.

I admit, these are petty high school problems but if you wish to take my advice as a 16-year old that still has a small spark of childhood innocence: follow my scared 11-year-old self and take that test. Swerve your car into an unknown path, drive, and thrive. –

Arwen Candelaria is a 16-year-old avid watcher of Kdramas, Barbie movie re-runs, and feminist chick-flicks. She loves making new memories with her friends and still dreams of dancing with them at the prom-that-they-didn’t-have wearing beautiful gowns and makeup.

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