Nine o'clock.

It is nine in the evening but I am still wide awake. I sense movements from the other rooms—some studying for their Math 17 exams, but there are many who I know would spend the rest of the night talking, giggling, and laughing their heads out. But some are already asleep. They have perhaps already adapted to sleeping amidst the noise emanating from the corridor. I have yet to develop that ability.

Four weeks seems like eternity here. It has been almost a month when I left my home a thousand kilometers away, in the southern part of the archipelago. I sometimes miss home, but never to the point of crying—I never cry. But there are those who secretly hide their tears of longing, and when I accidentally see them, they immediately wipe their tears, pretending they are tired. No, they’re not. They just miss their homes. Their families.

I subconsciously flip the pages of the thick, heavy book. A required reading. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it tonight, but I know I need some sleep. To wander in the place called Dreamland is a luxury here. When I get eight hours of sleep, I feel like I have just won the lottery. But then again, I need to read at least a hundred pages more, and I am not even halfway yet. I just feel sorry for my eyes.

The bed on the left is empty. My roommate has gone home. He said he’ll be back tomorrow night. Good for him. His house is just a mere four hours away, and tonight, I know that he’ll be sleeping in his own room, eating his mother’s delicious recipe, and talking about how he has spent the rest of the week. For now, this room is left to myself. I am alone. Away. But I do not feel regret I chose this life.

It is already nine, and I know for sure that moments from now, someone will come knocking on the door to have a peek—to specifically check if I am inside. Ah, the resident assistant. He always makes sure that all the residents of the dormitory are inside the premises. You couldn’t trust college freshmen. They’re just too young—too immature.

I have become used to this routine already. The entire day is spent in school—in auditoriums, halls, and classrooms. And when I go home to rest, I feel like I have just been tortured—and it doesn’t end there. The night is spent, if not entirely for studying, for a five-hour sleep. I end the day always with a prayer. To still be alive is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. I just lift up all my worries to Him. I know He’ll take care of everything.

The noise from outside is incessant. That won’t stop until the sun rises. Until my co-residents in the Basement corridor decide to sleep.