With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time. They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.
They are all home management and real life skills.
Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like. I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.
For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this. I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week. My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning. That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.
Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.
I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.
We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen. Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.
- Making a grocery shopping list
Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.
- Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT
This is probably the most challenging to teach. Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal. The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME. She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.
This is where Mike speaks. “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.” And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.
- Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide
I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts. So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names. I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest. Whew!
- Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)
Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this. She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered. All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers. So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments. This is still her reading assignment.
FINANCE or MONEY MANAGEMENT:
I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after. But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities. If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.
- Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending
From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT. So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary. I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning! Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.
SOCIAL SKILLS and CHARACTER-BUILDING & APPLICATION:
- Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items
Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people. I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.
GETTING TO PLACES:
- Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)
Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus. Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.
So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college. We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.
Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing. Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone. This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!