In the Philippine American Education Foundation advising, I met Margie who plans to apply to Harvard. She’s a part-time teacher in FEATI while working for the Asian Development Bank. She seemed to start taking interest in conversing with me when she asked me how my TOEFL went, and I told her I was drunk when I took the test.
When Margie told the adviser that she’s applying to Harvard because of its excellent program, the adviser told her (and the rest of us) that she might want to apply also to other state universities since private Ivy League education is expensive and tough (read: be realistic! be realistic!). I told her later on that a friend of mine is studying in Ohio State University, equally good quality and environment, but cheaper.
Money talks in this American dream. In New York University, one year tuition fee costs 40-60,000 dollars, depending on the graduate program. In Harvard, it’s $80k. Books, allowance, housing, etc. should amount to USD1000k per month in New York, said another advisee.
Margie and I are applying for EducationUSA Opportunity Grants that will pay for the test fees, test accommodations, VISA, SEVIS, plane ticket to US, and “partial scholarship” (maximum of $5,000 only). And we have no idea how to survive if ever we get in.
All these troubles made me ask her as we walked out of the building: tell me, in all honesty, why do you want to study in the US? (as if I’m a reviewing committee member).
Margie thought about it. Seriously. And told me she wants to have a better environment, and believes that further studies can help her carry out researches and field work to improve Philippine landscape. She majored in Architecture, I think, and she knows how lucrative Archi can be in landscaping and interior designing, but she doesn’t want to take that commercial path. Wow, my face gestured.
Since she was heading to Taft and I, EDSA, and we were to part ways, she invited me over merienda, and she asked where the nearest place for munching can be. McDo, I told her, was the nearest.
We exchanged future plans (I really love talking to strangers), and I was at ease being with a person who has Empire State Building ambitions and modest means.