When I was asked to write an article about my stay at IITB, I had the same feeling that Naina must have had (a famous character from Yeh Jawani hai deewani). The line from the scene goes like this, “Yaadein ek mithai ki dibbe ki tarah hoti hai..ek baar khula tou sirf ek tukda nhi kha paoge”. ( Memories are like a box full of sweets.. If you open it once, you simply cannot resist having more than one)
To the freshers, whose Insti experience has been delayed to some extent and for the second year, who probably would have just gotten comfortable with the whole IITB life and now have to spend a whole semester in a virtual mode, let me try to allay some of your apprehensions by giving you a glimpse of my insti journey.
Adjusting to the new normal
The first 180 degrees change from Bachelor’s was the Punctuality! Being a Delhi University student, I was used to my 9:30 & 11:30 classes, here the day started with everyone’s “favourite” 8:30 class, and the Professors were never late! We used to run from the first floor to the third floor and sometimes even to some other building to attend the next 9:30 class! (Challenging for those who had to skip their breakfast because they woke up at 8:20 :D).
Then there was a mixed bunch of students who were sitting under one roof and studying the same topic. I was used to a class of only chemistry honours students, but here there were students from various departments and this made the whole doubts clearing session a lot more interesting. I also found the teaching to be a bit different, the professors were not only teaching us from a book but from their hands-on experience, they discussed what was going on in their lab and this made the learning experience great. It took me some time to get adjusted to the teaching pattern, for example looking at the projector, though the teachers use blackboards as well but studying from a projector was new for me personally. Slowly and gradually we do acclimatise to this new normal as well.
Everyone is a Prodigy here
I believe every student can relate to this memory of mine from the initial days of the first year, feeling a bit less confident, a bit scared, just a bit of pressure of maintaining the reputation of our All India Rank, this all mixed with our homesick feeling. This is what happens when the class toppers from each class are made to sit under the same roof! :D. If you have ever felt this, then you are not alone, most of us have. But after some time everything starts to feel a bit more comfortable. This does create a bit of disturbance but also opens up gates to explore a whole new version of yourself. Talking from my personal experience, we see only the people around us and think as if this is the whole world, which is not true. The one thing that helped me through this feeling was a thought shared by someone in our PG orientation, I do not remember his name, but I do remember his words. He said, “Every citizen, a businessman, an auto-rickshaw driver, a serviceman, everybody who pays their taxes are counting on us, the facilities that we get are provided by those citizens.
We have the responsibility of providing them with a better future. And this has to be done by each and every one of us.” This made me realise that once you join such a premium institute, there is no I, we all have to contribute, and each of us holds an important position, we all are here for a big reason, to contribute our part to the huge ocean of knowledge. Let us all do our part 🙂
All hands on the deck in second year
While the first year revolved around getting comfortable with the IIT system, Second-year had two extremes, and this I believe all the second year students must be going through right now.
The million-dollar questions, What next? Am I suitable for a PhD? Will I be able to crack the placement interview? Gate examination? What if I don’t get anything? And the other extreme being enjoying the campus life to the fullest because this is the last year! So, while searching for all the answers, and preparing myself for the world out there, I built some amazing lifelong friendships.
Friendship is that one tranquiliser that keeps all the negativity, scary thoughts at bay! And the memories that you create here are going to last forever and soon you will realise, the place that you wanted to leave one year ago because of the homesick feeling has now started to feel like a second home. I really hope that you get to build friendships like that and don’t worry, you need not have all the answers to your future right away, but eventually you are going to land somewhere. The one important lesson that I learned from my second year is to do what feels right and not what is the popular choice. If you will go after what is popular, you might end up in a place where you don’t feel satisfied. Just follow your heart! Things will turn out to be great eventually.
My hands on experience with Research
I did my Master’s Project under the guidance of Prof. Sasidhar sir. My project involved performing Molecular Simulations on a protein and trying to give Molecular dynamic reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed my project. What made the learning experience even more fruitful was the constant support by Sasidhar sir, he always motivated me to be curious. He used to say, “Aprajita, you should always be curious.” And I still follow this advice.
M.Sc Project gives you a great opportunity to explore your research aptitude, and if you want to pursue PhD, then it will give you a preview of the research field, it is indeed going to play a big part. I would suggest that you enjoy every bit of it!
I feel each of us has grabbed different learnings from insti, for me it was learning how to juggle between Quizzes, assignments, labs, sleep, food, missing my family, social life and what not! :D.
I remember professor Maiti telling us one day that, “we are not just here to learn the facts, we are here to take the experience, some years down the lane, you may not remember this particular chapter or this topic but what you will remember is how you juggled between all the deadlines, quizzes, and everything in between. This is the experience that you are going to take from here.” This thought stayed with me.
My 2 cents to Juniors
I would like to suggest from my personal experience is to be true to yourself. There is only one of you, and this is the ultimate truth. Do what excites you, not what is popular. You will achieve your goals someday or the other but what you are taking from the campus is way beyond that. You will always be an IITian, who holds the knowledge and ability to bring big changes 🙂