From bonding with friends over a cup of tea to finding their favourite spot, here’s how students from different institutions spent the last one month...
Today marks one month of reopening of college campuses after a gap of 20 long months. Attending offline classes after such a long time brought back a whole lot of memories mixed with feelings of anxiety as to whether everything will be like before or not. For me, this was the first time on campus since I got admitted for my master’s course and so it was all the more exciting as I met and bonded with my batchmates outside the virtual classes. We matched faces with the names and started hanging out together. At first, I was a little doubtful about going back to offline mode after so long but eventually everything seemed so very natural. What I realised in one month is that virtual interaction can never make up for one-to-one meetings.
--- Shreyoshi Mukhopadhyay, second-year, Master’s in Physics, University of Calcutta
The lockdown made me an owl. So being a student of a morning college, attending the first class at 6.30am, that too when winter is almost here, is indeed difficult. Probably it was the urge of enjoying the essence of college life for the first time that changed everything. This being my second academic year in college, I already share quite a good bond with some of my batchmates, the foundation of which was laid online. So, I won't say that I made new friends, but yes meeting all of them face to face for the first time was indeed enjoyable.
Despite back-to-back practical and theory classes, the 'tea-holics' among us discovered a nearby tea stall on the very first day itself. Initially, I found it troublesome to concentrate in class which was probably because of the habit of keeping multiple tabs open on phone during online classes, a habit that I surely have to do away with.
--- Anusree Saha, second-year, BSc, Zoology, Jogamaya Devi College
Entering college for the first time after passing out from school and finally getting to meet people after never-ending monotonous JEE preparations was a breath of fresh air. I made many new friends in the last month and we made plans to visit our college often. Most of our classes are being online because all student aren’t vaccinated yet. I reunited with an old friend of mine whom I last met five years ago and, guess what, we are in the same section. It is difficult to stop being lazy and go out these days but Milandar canteen and Aurobindo Bhavan has become our favourite spots by now.
--- Soham Bakshi, first-year, BTech, Information Technology, Jadavpur University
The term ‘college life’ itself sparks so many thoughts. Starting from recognising new friends with the help of WhatsApp profile pictures to masked selfies, from learning the canteen menu to walking down the long corridors, everything felt so special in the last month. New ambience, new friendships, bittersweet moments together make for a experience to cherish.
--- Twanni Das, first year, BSc, Microbiology, Lady Brabourne College
After two years of online schooling, the only thing we hoped for was to attend college in person. I consider myself lucky that I can go to the campus from the very first year. The excitement of meeting new friends, whom I had only connected with virtually, surpassed all anxieties. Social distancing was not a problem since the classrooms are huge and the sections were divided into two shifts. In the last month, I have not only found good friends but also discovered my favourite spot near the campus. Nalban Bheri is where we friends have been spending time before and after college.
--- Deya Hazra, first-year, BTech, Computer Science Engineering, Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM), Kolkata
The cold linoleum of the hospital floor seemed to welcome us with an eerie sense of calm. I attended the first few classes with an initial reluctance stemming from a concern about personal safety. Gone were the days when we could spend hours gossiping with our friends. We were now compelled by circumstances to strictly follow distancing norms. Quite embarrassingly, I even failed to recognise many of my friends with their masks on. The gnawing fear of getting infected in the hospital environment seemed to make my initial days harrowing but our teachers’ comforting words managed to lessen our fear. I have now grown accustomed to living with the pandemic. At the end of the year, I realise that the resumption of classes was a welcome respite from the asphyxiating experience of the lockdown.
--- Soham Basu, second year, MBBS, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research and SSKM Hospital
Being a final-year student, I witnessed more than one-and-a-half years of staring at screens from closed spaces. Joy awaits us as we feel the smell of the Xaverian canteen, Fr. Duplechin auditorium, central library, the huge playground and the soundproof classrooms of our campus after reopening. In the last one month, the green benches and the canteen remained mostly empty with the playground devoid of any sports. The library is the only place maintaining its enclosed atmosphere with the same collection of books. Our favourite spot outside college is Chhotu’s tea stall. During virtual classes, we had missed the little connections... passing chits during lectures or making eye contact with a classmate and breaking into giggles. These memories were finally created in this one month.
--- Souparna Sarkhel, third year, BSc, Mass Communication and Videography, St Xavier’s College, Kolkata
The one month of being back in college has felt very surreal. The fact that I have gone from being a junior to a senior took some time to settle in. After the first year, we are again back on campus in our final year. Corridors do not buzz the same as before because of the pandemic restrictions. Many of our outstation friends who could not make it back to Kolkata are being missed. But I am glad we can hang out at Nandan again. With teachers being out of breath while speaking through masks and us being able to have a physical debate on Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson’s poems, we are adjusting to the New Normal with its good and bad.
--- Mahasweta Sarkar, third year, BA, English, Shri Shikshayatan College
After saying goodbye to high school online, I was anxious to enter the campus but was relieved to find some really good friends. The first day was all fun and games until the professors briefed us about the vast syllabus. Now I know why they call this transition a huge leap. Besides unfamiliar faces, a hectic timetable and endless classes, I was asked to introduce myself on the first day. I fumbled throughout my entire speech but managed to catch myself just in time. During our recess, we all bonded with each other over cutting chai outside our college premises.
--- Vidhi Addya, first year, BA, English, Sivanath Sastri College
After the reopening of our campus, students from various batches started visiting. The whole expanse in the southern part of the city welcomed us back with warmth, joy and relief. The canteens saw the little crowds and the classrooms were filled after 20 months. Happy that Jadavpur University is again buzzing with students, gossips, and addas. Despite the inhibitions and concerns, we continue to be hopeful. It was a delight meeting the people we saw previously through tiny profile pictures.
--- Ekalabya Bhattacharya, first year, BA, Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University