JTA Life

Shared by past SOH JTA participants 

From Kim Katalbas (AB-IS), who attended SOH JTA 2013 at Loyola Marymount University in the United States of America: "Top 5 Reasons Why My JTA Experience was the Best. 5.LMU itself. LMU’s campus is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and the fact that I had the chance to live here for a whole semester made me feel completely blessed and thankful for this type of opportunity.... I remember during orientation, we were told that regardless of how long we’d be staying in LMU, we’re already considered Lions (the school mascot). That’s exactly how I felt during my stay here. The sense of community is great and you’ll really feel like you belong despite only being here for a couple of months.

"4. My Work Opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to become a student worker and that finally became a reality here in LMU. I talked to my coordinator about it and she gave me the opportunity to work in the Study Abroad office as a Student Assistant.... The feeling of receiving my very first paycheck was amazing, because it indicated that I was sustaining my own needs. I learned a lot from this job, had amazing bosses and met a colleague who became such an inspiration to me.

"3. Exposure to a Different Culture. Many would argue that going to USA wouldn’t be considered immersing yourself in a completely different culture, given how accustomed Filipinos are to the Western ideals.... However, I believe that as long as you’re out of your home country, it will always be a new cultural experience.... The international community here exposed me to the different cultures and taught me a lot about their ways of living. At the same time, being in a different country gave me a newfound appreciation for Filipino culture because I saw the values we have that others aren’t accustomed to. I love USA but the Filipino customs will always be number one for me.

"2. Friendships Built. I initially told myself at the start of JTA that I shouldn’t get too emotionally attached to anyone because I knew that we’d be separated at the end of the semester. That didn’t happen at all because I met people here that I already consider some of my closest friends. Perhaps the fact that I knew we would be separated made me cherish my moments with them even more. I’ve been through a lot with these people in such a short span of time so good-bye’s became quite difficult. The friendships I’ve built during my JTA are sure to last for a long time.

"1. Independence. Perhaps this is my top reason because I was never given this kind of independence back home.... But here, I have no one but myself to follow. For the first time, I had to worry things like laundry, actual budgeting, and more. I’ve always wanted to become independent and these past months taught me that, so I hope I never lose it when I get back home....

"In about 35 hours, I’m going to be on the plane back to Manila. I’ve gone a long way from that girl who was terribly homesick and vulnerable during her first few weeks of stay and I’m proud of the maturity I gained these past months. These last 4 months were the best of my life so far and I highly recommend those who are thinking of applying for JTA to go for it. It’s a daunting journey, but it will change your perspective on everything. :)"

Kim with friends in Koreatown, LA. Kim visiting Rodeo Drive.

From Bea Ignacio (BFA-ID), who attended SOH JTA 2013 at Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom: "My Arts classes [are] really interesting. But what's difficult here is that ... all the classes I'm taking are continuations of the previous semester; so in a way I ... dove into things. It was quite overwhelming, but the Professors (whom we call tutors) are very helpful and considerate. For my Arts classes, ... we don't really have formal lectures. ... The entire class is like a workshop of some sort.... At the beginning of the semester ... we're asked to choose a theme which we'll stick with for the rest of the semester. For the classes, we're taught or briefed with some technical skill in the morning, then the afternoon is catered to us experimenting on our own [in the studio] .... We aren't required to stay, but we are expected to work on our own time. Also, we're free to use all the equipment and materials any time we want! But I did have to pay for some other materials like sketchpads, pencils, masking tape, etc. Currently I am taking Textiles ... and Ceramics.... What I find difficult is how we aren't really told what to do. We're free to do our own thing which can get quite overwhelming because I'm used to being told specifically what to design. But I'm enjoying it honestly! So far I just keep experimenting...."


Clockwise from upper left: The Liverpool Hope Creative Campus in the winter. Ceramics Studio. Textiles Studio. Textiles Studio. (Photos from Bea Ignacio.)

From Eos Trinidad (AB-IS), who took his JTA at the National University of Singapore in 2012: "JTA Experience at the National University of Singapore has been very enriching--to say the least! The academic rigor has enhanced my critical thinking and refined my erudition. Volunteer activities and mentorship programs have given me a new perspective on looking at the world. Travels and trips (to different parts of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia) have enhanced my sense of awe and wonder at how the world had been and what it could still be. More than these, the friendships have made me a better human being--and this, I believe, is the purpose of international exposure: to make us better attuned to that which makes us truly human."

Eos Trinidad was a scholar of the Temasek Foundation Leadership Enrichment and Regional Networking (TF LEaRN) programme at the National University of Singapore.

(Photo from Eos Trinidad.)