I reached the campus early today in a classic case of my friends were late. So, I sat on a table in a class barely peppered with other rebels like me; people who are usually on time. We’re a dying breed. One such classmate sat near me. We were talking about our post-college plans when the topic went a bit diagonal. Some fifteen minutes later, we agreed on a very important statement – most of what we learned in college was outside of it.
I remember who I was when I came to Noida some two years ago. A self-righteous jerk who thought he knew too much but didn’t have the guts to talk to new people upfront would be a nice way to summarise my overall appeal. I’ve shed a lot of things in these years. Some ego, some shyness and a unibrow, for starters.
It’s true though. Most things I learned in college were outside of it or at least outside the curriculum. While I did learn a bit of computer science, most of it self-taught, I also learned so much about life.
In fact, the first thing I had to do when I came here was to learn to be able to survive wherever you go. Yes, the on-campus accommodation makes you feel something like that when you first visit it. I also learned to talk to strangers because I had two roommates and over hundred people on my floor itself.
As the years progressed, I learned countless lessons like how to travel with a friend and not miss your bus on your way to your destination. I had a class of fifty strangers, all of them extremely different from one another; I learned to find my tribe. Tribe or not, I wasn’t making the same mistakes I made back in school though, so I learned to talk to every person, even if we shared an interest or not. I learned small talk and realised how you can have beautiful interactions once you master it.
I learned to travel on my own when I went to Indiblogger’s BNLF in Mumbai back in the winter of 2015. Also learned to do my taxes, became slightly financially literate because of certain life events that happened during college, not because of it.
I learned to adjust again when I left the on-campus accommodation. Finding an accommodation, discussing terms for it, finding a roommate and moving in was not something I would’ve done when I was back in Dehradun. From washing my underwear on time to handling literally everything in my life, everything has been a great learning experience. College literally made me a functioning adult and yet, none of it was in any textbook.
When it comes to love, I’ve learned to get my heart broken and get back up again. I was stood up once. I was ghosted too. Dating, an activity I was completely oblivious to earlier, became easier. I learned how to talk to the fairer sex and am still learning. But it’s been an experience.
I learned to be a part of something bigger than myself when I volunteered for our campus’ TEDx last year. I made some very amazing friends then and well, lost all the shyness all at once. To be fair, I loved carrying the jerk expression on my face back when I was in school because that meant I didn’t have to talk to anyone anyway. I’m glad that thought went away in college.
I learned to deal with people as well. When I say people, I mean those around us. From the person who picks up laundry to the manager of my building to every driver whom I’ve ever met to the kids who I meet every day on my way back to my room to the random people who I smile and wave at every day because they live in the vicinity.
When I started living alone this year, everything changed again. I learned how to shop for supplies and groceries. I learned how to carry the cart in a supermarket like a grown up. That and a lot of other things you realise when you live alone. I learned to develop my routine and live by it. More or less.
I learned my alcohol and caffeine jargon. Also developed my taste and preference for food and beverages. Set rules for myself, also broke them on occasion. I learned to put up a strong front when things weren’t exactly going my way.
I sat in countless interviews last summer for an internship while I learned basic formal communication. Also realised that no one follows what they teach in college anyway and that the formal communication in the practical world is way quicker, faster and well, a bit more honest. Still, a nice salutation or greeting never went the wrong way.
Literally handcrafted a personality that was open to change and learning, from the ground up, like Google did with Android Lollipop. Oh, that reminds me, also learned a hard lesson that you can never be too careful with things you care about. Though, ultimately, I stopped caring about things and started investing in experiences and the more meaningful.
Since I came to college, I’ve learned all that and more. I recently decided on what I want to do in the future, all on my own and I’m sure I’ll learn countless other things as I go forward.
While I do believe that most of it was outside of college and it’s scope, I also know that none of this would’ve been possible had I never come and set foot in the environment and that is why college is still relevant, although it is getting annoying with every passing day. Last legs and all.
This isn’t a come pat my shoulder post. This is more of a reply from me to myself from long ago. It’s my blog after all.