I left home to pursue my undergraduate studies from NIT Bhopal when I was 17 years old. Just a teenager who had never been on his own anywhere, the idea of living in a hostel was a blend of scary and exciting. Yes, I really was scared when I was moving out of my house for my graduate studies.
It’s not like it was unplanned or something. I always wanted to move out, nobody wants to stay in Gwalior (context: it’s my hometown). There’s no space for growth there.
But, this dread is actually about how your life is going to take a drastic turn. This dread is what you were always aware of, but now when it’s finally at your doorstep, it feels different.
I entered college with the same inhibitions everyone enters with: how am I going to make friends here? How am I going to survive?
I’m an extremely introvert person with minimal socializing skills. So, the idea of being around a bunch of new people has always put me in an awkward position; and the fact that I’d be living with these new people, all on my own, was scary on another level. Relatable, isn’t it?
The risks and fears associated with ragging ran right through my first year, added to which were preconceived notions and rumours. The mere thought of someone slapping me without any reason or making me do something against my wishes was enough to make me stay put in one place. I had fixed my routine to just stepping outside to attend classes in the morning and coming back and staying in my room for the rest of the evening. I was terrified of ragging. Well, who isn’t?
But to my relief, the anti-ragging cells are really effective and strict in college these days. Yes, it exists. Yes, the seniors might ask for your introduction, make you dance, make fun of you, but it’s all in good spirit. I have learnt that there’s nothing to be scared of. Just interact freely with your seniors, and it’ll all be fine. It’s okay to be scared at first, but you always end up making the best of friends with your senior batches, as always!
I moved from Gwalior to Bhopal, so there wasn’t much difference in terms of culture. Yes, Bhopal is a big city in comparison to Gwalior, and the latter is more conservative. As I realized, it’s okay to feel a bit out of place for a while.
People who hail from metro cities and speak in fluent English, talk about Hollywood movies and TV shows and go on dates might daunt you, but trust me, you’ll find people who resonate with your thoughts.
And eventually you’ll settle in, you’ll get a hold of the environment, and it’ll all unfold right in front of you. So, it’s okay to be scared, because it pushes you to learn more stuff. Just maintain your originality and you’ll ultimately stand out from the crowd.
It took me just 3-4 months to figure all this out. And that’s all it takes, you soon stop missing your home, and start living this newly achieved and much needed independent life!
It’s okay to be scared. It really is. But it’s also important to know that everything is going to turn out absolutely fine. You’ll meet your people, you’ll start scoring good marks, you’ll do stuff that you wanted, all it requires is a bit of patience in the beginning. This patience will be worth it because the journey is going to be the best part of your life.
You’ll also go through phases which won’t be your happiest, but you’ll live through it. For me, I overcame those phases by indulging in extra-curricular activities that I liked.
Takeaways from my hostel life have continued till date. It has taught me how to respect everyone, to be accommodating of varied and conflicting perspectives, and to cherish the unexplored night time.
I did things I never imagined I’d do, realized that I enjoyed them eventually – right from blasting music on speakers at midnight, to getting high, to chai and bike rides to getting caught by the police. All these experiences added to my personality and defined who I am.
Every person enters college with similar feelings, and it all works out in the end. Maybe not the way you planned, but the way it is supposed to be.