Ever since I was a kid, I had dreamt of the first day of college. I was 14 when I decided how I wanted the first day of college to be. I had read newspapers which would talk about Delhi University and its colleges, day in and out and a college day described in those pages was exactly what I wanted for myself. It was etched clearly in my mind. Many years later, though, when I actually got to live the day, it was extremely different from what I had imagined.
My relatively average marks and the sky high cut-offs helped me land at Kamala Nehru College. I hated travelling an hour in the metro every day. I hated being in a South Campus college when all my school friends were studying in colleges in North Campus. I hated being in a girls college because I had a pre-conceived notion that they are boring. I hated how my campus looked and I was sure that I was in for the worst three years of my life.
I wasn’t even excited for my first day. I didn’t talk to anyone at the orientation – I went to the college, sat in the auditorium for two hours and came back. I didn’t take a tour of the college, neither did I check out the canteen. All I wanted to do was to get back home and cry. With every minuscule fibre of my being, I hated my college. In fact, hate would be an understatement for what I had felt. I had even thought about dropping out on my first day, but couldn’t muster up enough courage to mention that to my parents. I knew that I will have to somehow pass these three years. As an attempt to which, I started talking to people in my class and realised that I didn’t like them at all. I also joined a few societies, only to find them boring very soon. I befriended two girls and both of them remained absent for most of the time and hence I was mostly by myself. A month had passed by, and I still had no friends in college. I didn’t know anyone and nobody knew me. The situation was so bad, that at my fresher’s party – one of my classmates asked me if I was in her class.
I disliked everyone in my class to an extent that I would only go to college just to attend my classes. I would listen to each and every thing my teachers would tell me, study really hard and I would score the highest marks in every test. Earlier, I used to think I wasn’t as smart as my classmates; but as it turned out, I started feeling smarter than most of them. Slowly and gradually, I even started talking to more people in my class, and I realised that they weren’t as bad as I had initially thought.
After a while, I was the only girl in class who would talk to everyone, while others had their defined groups in which they would engage. I even happened to meet a girl who shared my love for academics. We’d compare notes and we both knew that either one of us would be the topper. It was a weird feeling – whatever I had heard or imagined about college wasn’t what was happening to me. All those glossy papers had never talked about studies in college – they had always talked about parties, hanging out and bunking. And even though I was doing none of that, I was having a lot of fun. I loved how my teachers taught and helped me think about things I had never thought of earlier. Our classes weren’t just boring lectures – they included intelligent debates about anything and everything that mattered. My college introduced me to amazing people and opportunities. I wasn’t doing what I’d thought I’d be doing, but I was starting to love it anyway.
Soon enough, my first semester exam results were declared and I hadn’t topped my class, neither had the girl whom I’d expected to be. The topper was a person who, in my opinion, couldn’t even form a proper sentence in English. I felt like I had failed at the only thing that mattered to me, and I felt devastated; and so did my friend. However, that was the day when I finally started belonging to my new environment.
My friend and I would talk to each other over the phone for hours and sulk about how we didn’t get good marks. We hadn’t scored poorly but we weren’t at the top either – and that wasn’t good enough for us. This is what got us talking even more, and brought us closer to each other. Gradually though, we started talking about the books we liked reading and it turned out that we had a lot in common. We learnt to stop crying over our marks so much, and started hanging out in the vacations.
My friend wasn’t as anti-social as I was and she introduced me to some really interesting people in college and helped me make more friends. Everyone in my friend circle was extremely different from who I was as a person, and yet I deeply admired them. Slowly, we became a big group of eight and I was extremely glad to have my own ‘clique’. Each one of us had a different story to tell, and each one of them made me happy. By the end of the semester, I was a gleeful kid; and even though I wasn’t the topper of my department, I was content with my performance. But more importantly, my teachers liked me, my classmates liked me and I felt like life wasn’t dreary anymore.
As more semesters passed by, my friendships strengthened and I kept falling deeper in love with what I was studying and where I was studying. I also started participating more actively in other activities – as I joined various NGOs and interned at multiple companies during my vacations. I was happy to meet new people and learn new things, and I would go out to explore new places in the city with my friends frequently.
Two years later, I stood for the position of the president of the literary society of my college. I was one of the five candidates, and to my surprise, I won. The girl who had asked me who I was during my freshers, came up to me and told me that she had voted for me because I really deserved to win. This was the day I realised, how my college had helped me become a better version of myself. Today, I love travelling an hour in the metro each day. I love being in a South Campus college even though all my school friends are in North Campus. I love being in a girls college because I know that girls colleges are great and all of my pre-conceived notions about them were proven wrong.
Today, I love how my campus looks and I am very sure that the last two years have probably been the best years of my life and my final year here will be even better. So, what is it that really changed in these two years? Was it my college or was it me? It was definitely me – I was the shy girl who wasn’t independent and who only related college with stupid things like parties and boys. Today, I am the girl who thinks she doesn’t need anyone to make her happy and cares about more important issues, like fighting patriarchy. Earlier, I was the girl who wanted to live in a perfect world but now, I am the girl who wants to build a better world for everyone. Would I be the same person if I were in some other college? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But if given a choice to choose my college once again, I know I’d choose Kamala Nehru.