Entering An ‘Unfamiliar World’: What Outstation Students Feel Before Starting College

Posted on June 24, 2015 in Campus Watch

By Sakshi Jain

Always in the big woods when we leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the fear of the Unknown and our first bond with the wilderness we are going to.

-Wendell Berry

Fixity is the requisite ingredient in everyone’s life, the realisation of its cessation and replacement by the unfamiliar seems catastrophic in our smooth sail of life. Such is the catastrophe of outstation students in college who have to let go of the fixity and enter the unfamiliar world thus changing the notion of their present as past.

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Making the transition from school to college is ardently anticipated by some while others look at with trepidation. For the outstations, trepidation sometimes overrules eager anticipation. While the fear of ‘change’ remains constant in every student, its type decides the overruling factor for students shifting bases. Students, in their 15 years of school life, get accustomed to an academic structure which restricts their knowledge to course books and increases their dependence on their teachers. College on the contrary, would involve a different course structure with a redefined student-professor relationship. Entering this metamorphosed world of academics with changing notions of ‘teachers’ as ‘professors’ and ‘classes’ as ‘lectures’ muddles the fixity of students’ life. For outstation students, this transformation has further implications. The idea of coming to a new city brings a bag full of apprehensions for them, be it the fear of living amidst strangers, getting attuned to the new locations of city or the life of travelling in the local public transport.

Their pre-eminent apprehension is to make a new family not only in college but back in their new putative ‘home’. While others would go back to their home embodying familiar faces waiting for them, they fear that their home will be an island surrounded by wilderness. This is augmented by the worry of being shouldered with umpteen responsibilities for now no money in purse would mean running towards an ATM and not parents, satisfying hunger would mean either starving or going against will to push the lazy body into cooking, and finding a lost pair of socks would mean arraying the dishevelled cupboard after the search as dependence on family will be a notion of the past and self-dependence that of the present.

In a world of complete oblivion and haze, the search for a friend to settle the haze seems to be the primary battle of an outstation against the differences which aren’t only individualistic but also cultural. Owing to the diversity of our nation, they apprehend the repercussions of cultural differences, the fear of acceptance and integration disturbs them. They dread isolation for they feel that local students have a common sense of identity of belonging to the same city which would lead to their better interaction, connectivity and eventually finding a friend. Being trapped in a dilemma to either change themselves in the process of integration or to adhere to their distinct identity seems to be alarming. Outstation students coming from all corners of the nation fear being victimised by the pre-conceived notions of peers about their native place. For instance, people in Delhi might have a peculiar impression of people belonging to North East, Bihar, UP, Haryana or any other place and vice-versa. Breaking the shackles of such notions seems like a herculean task for them.

With the widely disseminating trend of the nuclear family, the concept of privacy, secluded lifestyle and non-adjusting attitude have emerged. Brought and grown up in this environment like many others, making the move also carries the worry about mutual adjustment and sharing a room with an unfamiliar roommate, an intrusion to their privacy.

Among all these apprehensions lies the hidden hope and exhilaration for a new beginning. The ardour to leave the world of school and enter the world of freedom offered by college allays the fear to some extent. They accept change with audacity and alacrity and yearn to break the shackles of apprehension. In the long run, all these fade away and lead them to a new road where they develop the confidence to walk alone, familiarise with the unfamiliar, to let go of fixity and accept change. The city which once seemed to be a land of wilderness becomes a green grass as they start developing a sense of belongingness. The new family which they fear making becomes their extended family and an integral part of their lives. They turn out to be the masters of their own life, deciders of good and bad and acceptors of ‘change’.

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