Today I stand jubilant with my success in NEET 2018. This journey started many years ago. To be specific, it begun two years ago in 2016 after I passed my class 10 board examinations. It was then that I finally decided to opt for science and travelled all the way to Rajasthan from Kashmir.
Having spent all my life in a place characteristically cold, it was a bold decision to move to one of the hottest places in India. Even though almost everyone around me was supportive of this decision, some were visibly uncomfortable with it, citing the unfavourable climate as their prime reason.
“How would one adapt and live and then also prepare for this ‘tough’ examination?” This was the question that initially bothered me as well. However, I also understood that one must leave one’s comfort zone if one is to actually start zeroing in on one’s set goals. It was with this realisation that I packed my bags and joined Allen Coaching Institute in Kota. The fact that I wasn’t going there alone but had almost a dozen students with me also calmed my nerves.
However, the first thing that struck all of us once we were trying to settle in was not the soaring temperatures. It was the food. Somehow, it hadn’t occurred to me that the food in Rajasthan would be different from what I ate all my life, and then adding to this was the fact that we weren’t eating any homemade goodies anymore but had to survive on the tiffin facility. I came to know that most people there were more inclined towards south Indian food and well – let me admit it – I didn’t even like its smell. This new unexpected challenge probably made us forget the summer heat.
Even though these issues with living continued to haunt us for the two years we spent there, I somehow got myself to seriously consider the main reason I was there: studies. The prep school at Allen, I must say this, was one of the main reasons things got going. I felt that I had made the right decision joining this institute as I realised that they were the masters of this field. They guided us so well that within no time, all that I could focus on was studies. Everything else was just pushed to the background. This was also the time when it dawned on me that the standard of education there was much better than what I had encountered all through my school days in Kashmir. This was probably also because now that we had specialised streams, we were able to focus on one thing and not navigate through so many subjects.
Sometime later, when I had properly begun the preparations for medical entrance examinations, it hit me hard in the face that most other students had come from CBSE and ICSE boards and even though I was among the toppers of the J&K State Board of School Examinations, I couldn’t really compete with these students from other states. I felt I could have done much better if I had had a head start like them. It took me many months to get there.
If the heat, bad tiffin food, and unlucky schooling weren’t enough, simply being away from home was emotionally draining. At that point, if your scores dwindle a bit, it can take a heavy toll on your mental health. Suddenly you feel you have wasted all your parents’ money and nothing is going to come out of this exercise. A lot of students in Kota fall for this and unluckily never come out of it. It is quite natural that despite all the struggles and hard work if your grades aren’t up to the mark (add to this the constant competition you have to live up to in these institutions) you start thinking, “Maybe it is in my best interest to head back home,” or “Why am I even trying this hard when I am clearly not made for this.” During these times, you require the support and guidance of your parents, and I was one of the lucky ones who got that.
However, the most important thing that strikes you time and again is the feeling: “Oh God! I should have known this before coming here. Maybe I would have done it in such a better way if I did.”
Believe me, this is the only regret I have had in my two-year journey. Like, if there had been someone to guide me in a better way at the beginning, I would have done a lot better than what I did. Modestly speaking, it took me almost a year to get to know and understand things well, like how to work the “smart way” and how things generally work in a different culture and place. Since the NEET examination is an objective based test, you really need some smart bits of advice to tackle it in a better way. This can save a lot of one’s time, and I can say this from my own experience.