Revisiting the First Days of College
The word itself brings to mind a spectacular amalgamation of friendship, new and wild experiences, joy, and studies. It’s almost time for all the freshers to join college and you’re probably wondering what it’s going to be like. After spending the last two years (and maybe more) of your life preparing for grueling stuff like the JEE, you can finally expect a breather while in college.
If you have chosen Manipal, rest assured, your journey here is going to be one memorable heck of a ride. Whether because of the enjoyable hostel life or the boring lectures, you are going to soak in animmense amount of experience from almost each moment of your life here.
Manipal is a quaint little university town, nestled between the astoundingly beautiful Western Ghats and Karnataka’s impressive coastline. Of all the college campuses in the country, Manipal undoubtedly stands ahead in the aspect of natural beauty and serenity and boy does it rain here. Your initial days, the odd semester (4-5 months), will be extremely rainy here. So much so that even rain lovers can get fed up of the constant precipitation soon after you join. The air is aromatic with the smell of wet, alluvial mud, and the evenings are idyllic with picture perfect sunrise and sunsets.
Life changes its course radically upon entering a college.
The first thing that you notice: You have never stayed outside your comfort zone and now you’ve left it far behind you. Here you are in a completely strange land (unless you’re from around here in which case please help your fellow freshmen who are not). Your surroundings change drastically. Signboards and hoardings suddenly make no sense anymore, the number plates on vehicles now start with “KA 20”, the regular “Bhaiyya” changes to “Anna”, and before you can catch up, your address changes to “Manipal, Karnataka”.
Majority of the people adjust well, but there is always a small proportion of people who get intimidated. What you as freshers need to imbibe is that change is usually fun. Take it very sportingly. Moreover, Manipal, welcomes students from all corners of the globe with an open and warm hug. It is this quick adaptation to changes that mold a global citizen out of you eventually.
Most importantly, people around you change. There will be a hell lot of new faces you see, and always remember that it’s some of those unknown faces who will eventually become your best friends.
To be honest, the initial days in the college are quite inactive. Inactive in terms of clubs, events, and the “college feelz”. You guys don’t have your laptops yet, the interaction ban doesn’t allow you to participate in events and the evenings can get a little dull.
But as I see it, there is reason behind this inactivity. Apart from keeping the seniors at bay initially, the college has perhaps devised this method to increase interaction among the freshers. And I can’t stress enough the importance of this time to you.
A college is comparable to a zoo.
You are going to meet almost all sorts of people here, all hailing from different places. The amount of exposure you receive in the first week itself might be more than what you have gotten in the previous 17 years of your life. You get to know and interact with these guys, many quite similar to you, and others having distinct tastes of their own. It is an astounding time when budding prospective engineers share and discuss their tastes for music, art, movies, books, food and much more. It is a magical time in itself, if you know how to utilize it well.
Umbrellas & Friends
(The most important parts of your initial days)
Usually people in Manipal are immensely interactive, and that makes it a superb and easy place to make friends. But being a rainy place, Manipalites usually end up making friends in an absolutely exclusive and unheard of way.
It is raining heavily, and you are clutching your umbrella tightly so that it doesn’t fly off in the wind. Suddenly, you see someone coming near you and asking courteously “Can we share, if you don’t mind?” He is drenched and you extend your umbrella to accommodate him in the shelter.
“Thanks for helping me! I am XYZ by the way, and you are……?”
And that is how friendship strikes under an umbrella.
And before you’ve realised it, you end up befriending about 5 people in this manner.
This is how your day starts:
After having breakfast at the food court (which is going to change to “FC” in the coming days), you trudge along the sloped path to NLH.
I entered the classroom, and in front of me, were seated about 70 strangers. I looked for a familiar face among them, but found none. Being a mediocre student, I end up getting seated in the middle rows.
Not too near, nor far away from the teachers. That’s how I like it.
The classroom, in an engineering college is of pure absorbing interest.
Let’s start from the front benches. Ambitious, resolved and patient, this bunch of guys seem to have already figured out what course they need to take in life. Potential 9 and 10 pointers have a fierce competition for this highly stereotyped spot in the classroom. Though a majority of them are studious, one can always find exceptions.
As we progress onto the next benches, the notoriety levels increase exponentially, the middle rows being the most chilled out gangs. Pardon me if I am a bit biased.
And then comes the most coveted last row, the place that has seen both flunkers and toppers in all these years. One cannot assert definitively the type of crowd here, for it changes radically between classrooms.
Irrespective of all differences, one starts to love their class like anything in Manipal, and later it turns out to be a very memorable year for all the 80 students together.
The perpetual state of most of the engineering students. In your hostel life, you are going to come across various degrees of broke people, you might be one of them. From people ranging from “I didn’t bring my wallet with me, yaaaar” to people who are going to use your toothpaste for half a month, you will eventually realize all the different shades of broke possible on the bloody planet!
But surprisingly, and however absurd this may sound, being broke for some time is BENEFITIAL. Apart from teaching you money management, I actually managed to make a friend due to my broke condition once!!
I still remember that glorious night, with a sessional exam the next day, and a hell lot of syllabus remaining. I looked at the contents page, and realized that pulling an all-nighter is the only way I can prevent the next day from turning into a disaster. With pressure and hunger mounting on me, I started memorizing all I could. At around 1 am, I couldn’t take it anymore.
“I need to have something right now, or else I’ll faint”
I stepped out of my chair, stretched a bit, and checked my wallet. And darn that unholy day, I had just a twenty rupees note remaining. Never, in my entire life, had I been broke. And this had to happen today itself…..
With a gloomy face, I made way for the night canteen. As I came out of my room, I saw another floor mate of mine (who was just an acquaintance then), going towards the night canteen himself. I waved, and soon we were gossiping as we went down the stairs. Turned out, he was equally broke.
“Let’s put in our money together, and see if we can afford something…” he suggested.
“Sounds good bro!”
We finally reached the night canteen, where, after looking at the menu, we realized that our stomach’s going to remain empty today. The cheapest thing on the menu was an aloo paratha (cost 40 bucks I guess), and wasn’t enough for both of us.
Finally, he came up with a bright idea. “Let’s buy two Kerala parathas, and go to my room. I have this awesome “Maggi masala magic” sachets with me. Sprinkle some of it on any damn stuff, and you don’t need a curry to go with it!!”
Hungry and broke, the idea seemed worth a shot to me.
We ended up doing the same, and before we knew, we had turned into solid friends that night. Apart from sharing food, we shared our views on music, arts, life, family, books, and god knows what else. We gossiped for about half an hour or so, and later on I ended up studying in his room itself. Incidentally, I did well in my exams the other day as well!!
That day onwards, we became the best of friends.
It is sometimes in life that you plunge into difficult moments. But gaining the most out of it is the so called “engineer’s way of life”.
College is going to offer you innumerable such opportunities. One must always be on the lookout!
– Diptark Bose