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A second-year Presidency student talks about a month of growing fondness for the campus

Hiya Mukherjee
Hiya Mukherjee
Posted on 15 Dec 2021
17:17 PM
Snapshots of Presidency University.

Snapshots of Presidency University. Source : Students

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Summary
Dec 16 marks one month since college and university campuses have reopened
Library to green fields, here’s how a second-year student spent her first day on campus

News of colleges being allowed to reopen left me feeling unsure. For a moment, I was ready to wrap myself up in a frenzy and make plans with friends, only to remember that the past two years have taught us all how even the best-laid plans can go awry at a moment’s notice.

Our university gave individual departments the liberty to decide what mode of classes they wished to conduct. My department (Political Science) took the outstation students into consideration and decided to continue with virtual classes for all main lessons and optional offline lessons for tutorials and other additional classes. Those of us in Kolkata and in good health were encouraged to go to campus, see the department, use the libraries, and become familiar with the campus.

On the day of the reopening, my friend asked me if I wanted to meet her at the Metro station to head to campus together. It was a nervous, hesitant ‘yes’. That is, only until we walked past the university gates on the first day.

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A wave of overwhelming emotions seemed to pass through me on the first day. It felt surreal — like a kind of homecoming to a place I had barely ever been to. While I had visited the grounds several years earlier, this was my first time on the campus as a student of the institution. I had waited for this time for so long with bated breath, even at the height of the pandemic.

I still remember heading in the direction of the libraries we had heard so much about. This was where I was the most transfixed, overwhelmed by the vast tomes spanning hundreds of shelves. Here students are seen reading quietly or making notes.

Once my class ends and after I have spent some time browsing through the library shelves with increasing awe at the sheer magnitude of it all, I visit the fields. Some students are seen sitting in small, spaced-apart clusters and one can hear the occasional bursts of laughter and camaraderie.

It is all very exciting, particularly so after the dull monotony of having to stare at a screen for the entirety of my first year of college, lamenting after the loss of a freshers’ experience. But this, too, oddly enough, feels exactly like what I had imagined being a fresher to be. So much so that I have to routinely backtrack from introducing myself as a fresher instead of the sophomore I am (despite finding it hard to believe myself) and even later being surprised to meet juniors of my own.

As the evenings drew nearer, sitting on the field and gazing at the various university buildings that flank the greens, everything felt strangely bittersweet. The past year and a half have brought so much loss and even at this moment the memories of it all seemed to be ever-so-present. Yet, sitting there, listening to the ebb and flow of the excitable voices, discussing some dreaded exams or retelling age-old jokes, or the distant hum of a song, is exhilarating. I can feel an invisible weight being lifted off me.

A month has passed since that first day on campus. In this short period of time, I have grown to treasure the campus grounds even more. Be it a couple of quiet morning hours in the library, or the late afternoons spent on the Presi greens, basking in the winter sun as we attend our online classes — every moment in college is one reclaimed. Only now, we also sneak away every once in a while to Sukumar-da’s canteen for a cup or two of tea, perhaps even more.

(Hiya Mukherjee is a second-year Political Science student of Presidency University, Kolkata)

Last updated on 15 Dec 2021
17:17 PM
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