Sunday, September 20, 2015

Life Lessons: Learning From Mistakes

Yesterday, I was supposed to take the TOEFL exam. I've already registered last August, paid the $200 testing fee, reviewed for some time, booked a hotel for my overnight stay before the exam. Essentially, I was prepared. Or so I thought.

On the day of the test, as I was undergoing the usual checking of identification, the person in-charge told me that my passport was invalid (I renewed my passport two weeks ago, the old one was punched with holes already, the new one hasn't arrived yet) so she then asked me to present two government issued IDs. I gave her my UM-ID and she accepted it. However, my employee ID wasn't accepted and I don't have any more gov't issued IDs at hand. She then told me to just contact the ETS. In short, I wasn't able to take the test.

Numb. Lost for words. Unbelief. Those were the things that I felt. All along I was just thinking of the problems I would encounter in the test  - whether I would be able to answer correctly and completely in the different sections. But I wasn't prepared for what had just happened. Had I known that they were that strict, I would have done things differently. I should have not let the officer punched holes in my passport. Or maybe I should not have renewed my passport at all. I should have made sure I have all the other government issued IDs. I should have done this. I should have done that.

I went back to the hotel feeling defeated, disappointed with myself. I should have done a number of things but I haven't. It all boils down to me being so irresponsible. At that point in time, I just simply hate myself. I even felt that maybe studying in the US is not meant for me.

After sending an email to ETS, I called a number of people (two of my friends and my mom) because I just can't sit there the whole time, hating myself, sulking at what had just happened. I can't just take it all in. I need to let it out. And I'm thankful the people I talked to are so understanding, especially my mom. My mom has always been there for me. She has always supported me with my decisions. And with what happened, I felt like I've not only disappointed myself, I also let her down. But instead of blaming me, she told me that I should take it as a lesson and to not give up on my dreams. And in that moment, I know I'm the luckiest daughter to have a mother like her. I'm just so grateful to have a strong support system with my family and friends.

After that, I went to the lounge area in the 7th floor. It's a veranda where you can just sit and relax. The area is peaceful and very calming. And it's perfect to let all my emotions out. I sat there, staring at the vast open space, listening to some music, with tears falling from my eyes. Good thing there's nobody there (because what would they think of me? That I'm a drama queen?). Well, it's just nice to be there. I was able to clear my thoughts and kind of forgive myself.
the veranda that has witnessed my emo moment

Life is really full of surprises. There are times when things would not go as planned. There are times when you blame yourself. There are times when you hate yourself. But these are also the times you learn from your mistakes and realize the people who value and support you. And I just learned my lesson the hard the expense of my forfeited $200 testing fee. But as what my mom told me, it's just money. I can still have it back. What's important is that next time, I would come to the testing center prepared (prepared with all the requirements and IDs in particular).

At the end of the day, I may feel defeated but I will definitely go on and carry on.

When life gives you lemons, you get to learn to make lemonades. =)

P.S. I will see you again TOEFL! I will see you and I will conquer you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Four days.
Four freakin' days to go!!!

This is me being so stressed out. Huhu.
I just want to get this over and be done with..
Well, to actually overcome it with with flying colors.
Thus, review. Review. Review.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

DFA Megamall: Passport Renewal Experience

So yesterday I went to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office located in Megamall to renew my passport. An important note, you should have an appointment prior to going to any of the DFA offices. You can do this by visiting their website, click here, and choosing a specific date. Since I don't want to go there during the weekdays (to avoid being absent at work), I opted for a Saturday.

I visited their site in the latter part of July and there's no available slot for the whole August. So the earliest possible date for me was September. At first, I was checking the DFA Main Office and found that there's a slot for September 12 but it's kind of risky because I have to travel in October so I needed an earlier date just to make sure I got my passport on time. Good thing, there's a September 5 slot available at DFA Megamall, so that's the one I took. It's a satellite office and based on reading blogs, it has fewer people lining up compared to that of the main office. (My first renewal was in the main office and there were so many people. But it's just normal because everything happens there - from passport application to renewal to fixing those who have changes/problems in their passports).

Another important note, make sure to have all the identification cards (IDs), necessary documents, and the most recent passport photocopied. Being the crammer that I am, I had my IDs photocopied and my application printed a day before and my passport and some documents on the day itself before going to the DFA. My appointment was scheduled at 11 am. So at 7 AM, I left my apartment and looked for some photocopying shops. Fortunately, I found one already opened! I bought my breakfast and headed to buses' pick-up station. I got in the bus at around 7:30 AM. I needed to avoid the traffic in EDSA so I really made sure to travel early. At around 9 AM, I was already in SM Megamall. The mall wasn't opened yet (their opening is 10 AM) so I just waited, together with other people, near the front door. For one hour though, I felt like I've inhaled all the smoke because there's a smoking area nearby. I couldn't believe it! There are so many people smoking already in that hour. I bet some haven't eaten their breakfast yet. They're really killing themselves. And yes, I hate smokers!

At long last, 10 AM came and the doors were opened. Since I still have one hour to spare, I went first to Forever 21. Haha the perks of being in the mall! I honestly felt like I was the first one to enter the shop. I just looked at some clothes (aka window shopping). Then at about 10:30 I went to the DFA office. The officer told me that he would just call me because my appointment was still at 11 AM. So I went to a nearby coffee shop and had my cup of tea. At 10:45 AM I went back to the DFA and there the officer at the door checked my application form. Then, I went inside, in the desk another officer checked my documents and told me to go to the processing area. The processing area is where the lining up starts but it's okay because there are chairs where you can sit in. There's also another officer who checks the documents and staples those that are needed. In my case, he just stapled the photocopies of my IDs and passport. He also instructed us to re-check the information in the application form and put our signature. When my turn came, the officer checked the papers. Asked when is my travel and asked if it's okay to already cancel my passport (by punching holes). And punched holes he did. Goodbye passport! Then he instructed me to go to the cashier where I paid P1,200 for the processing fee. Note: During Saturdays you have to pay P1,200; on weekdays you can either opt for a regular fee of P950 and P1,200 for rushed processing. Thus, during Saturdays, all application are considered as rushed processing. It's really not a big deal for me because in the first place I really need the rushed processing.

After paying, I then went to the encoding area where the officers scan your application form, let you write your signature, take your picture, encode the information written in the application form, and take your thumb prints. This is another area where people line-up. The waiting time here is longer compared to the processing fee for obvious reasons that it would take more time doing the things mentioned above. Another officer announced that we have to make sure that the information in our form was correct. I probably checked mine several times. Haha that's me being so OC!

During my turn, I tried writing my signature three times. Then, while capturing my image, instead of looking at the right side, I kept on turning to my left. Probably the effect of sitting for a long time. Then after taking my picture and thumb marks, the officer handed me the printed form which will appear in my passport and had me checked the information. And when everything was correct, I'd have to sign at three different areas where he placed the check marks.

After that, the last part was going to the area of whether I'll have my passport delivered or just claim it in the office. I opted for mail delivery. After giving my receipt, I paid P150 for the delivery service and the officer let me checked if the address was correct. Then she said I'd have to wait one or two days after the release for me to receive it. So that's it! Everything's done by 12:45 PM.

All in all, I have to rate it as a good experience. The DFA officers were courteous and did their job well in checking the documents in every step to make sure that the information which will be put in your passport is correct. The office is air-conditioned and clean and organized. The chairs are comfortable. It's also good that they have separate processing and encoding areas for those with infants and people with disabilities. I have to add that the CR is also clean. Everything went out smoothly and calmly. Also, they have a photocopying area in case you forgot to photocopy something.

Two thumbs up for DFA satellite office at Megamall for a job well done! =)

DFA Consular Office
7th Floor, Building C

You can either take the elevator located outside the mall, near the pick up station of buses or just take the escalator/elevator in Mega A, then walk the stairs leading to the office.

P.S. I just hope that my passport will arrive before my trip. I'm supposed to receive it on September 23 or 24. My trip will be on Oct. Haha! So much for being a crammer!

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