Sound advice from an unsound mind.
There’s many things people come to college for.
You come in with certain expectations, and you leave completely fulfilled, just not in the way you thought you would be. I should know. I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. You guys are coming in for the first time, a bit scared and confused, and I’m leaving forever, also scared and confused.
BITS was… a whirlwind. A tornado. It came and smashed headlong into my 18-year-old self with all the force and intensity of a natural disaster, and it tore through my life leaving a totally different person behind. When I came to college, I was a snot-nosed 18-year-old with an ego the size of Everest. There’s no denying that many people who come to BITS are like that. They think they’re the cat’s whiskers. Unfortunately for them, they’ve come to a place where they’re surrounded by their brothers in pride. My ego was punctured and deflated like a balloon, and it left behind a guy who began adapting to his new life and learning from people who knew more than he did.
Life before you come to college is like Modi’s election campaign. “Acche din aane waale hain beta! 12th pass kar loge toh college me masti hai!” (Good days are coming, son! Once you pass your 12th class then it’s all fun and games!)
Of course, just before you come to college, your mother warns you that it would be a bad idea to take that piece of motivation she gave you before JEE seriously, and that it’d be a better idea to swallow a bitter pill. You contemplate this piece of advice seriously until your first week in college, when you realise that the only person who wants you to take that bitter pill is your mother, and she’s on the other end of the country. There’s nothing stopping you from fulfilling Modi’s election promise on your own.
And that’s what I did. I played the piano, started a blog, became reasonably adept at Linux, reluctantly did a bit of studying (I wanted a degree, didn’t I?), played Dragon Age, went for international conferences, the list goes on and on. That’s what college life is all about, really. It’s a swing oscillating between “achhe din” (most of your college life) and “bitter pill” (exams). The trick is to swing comfortably, and not by the seat of your pants. Unfortunately, by the time you get adept at it and really start having fun, it’s time to get off the swing. Your turn’s over, let the other kid play.
You’ve just started swinging on the swing I just vacated. In fact, you haven’t even kicked off yet, you’re settling your bottom on it, preparing to kick off on the 1st of August. There’s lots of things to say, and lots of advice to be disseminated. I’ve been called and asked about everything from laundry to timetables, and I’ve answered those queries willingly, a half-smile of nostalgia on my face as I realise that I’ll never make another timetable again or sit on the rocks and chat about nothing with my friends. My time’s up, and as I look at all you guys sitting on that swing for the first time, I advise you to take a deep breath, square your shoulders, firm your gaze, and stare out confidently at your playground. It’s going to be your home for the next four years.