Cover Story

The lurking university life

Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree | Published: 00:00, Sep 02,2018


Students of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College celebrating after higher secondary certificate results published on July 19, 2018. - New Age Photo

Recent college graduates are feverishly preparing for the university admission tests. Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree writes for students who are standing at this cross-road.

Transitions, desired or dreaded, have the power to change one’s life altogether. This time of the year, students, ready or not for the upcoming battle that is of the admission tests, are awaiting their lives to be changed like never before. What could be all these changes? How shall university life treat you? Is it as easy as our parents tell us to be, that everything will be smooth right after we manage to get into one? Maybe, maybe not! But what university life most certainly does is that, it provides us with many new avenues of life and knowledge, which in course help us grow.

The admission test, of course, seems like a nightmare, but as many teachers and guides will tell you, the preparation needs to be more strategic than to knowing it all. Time management in the exam hall is another important aspect, it is said that a student’s possibility to get into a university depends 50 per cent on their preparation and the rest on how they use the time in the exam hall. If it all goes well, you are there, waiting to step into a campus.

Excitement, curiosity, some fear, some nervousness, and some insecurity — these emotions shall be at the top of a student’s mind at this point. How the university life will turn out hugely depends on the particular university environment altogether. But there are a few common threads.

Social life at the university is one of the most important ones. A new set of people, a new and wider environment than that of a school and college, no uniforms anymore; everything sounds cool. In the first couple of years, you will find yourself as a part of a huge group of friends, a gang rather, sitting in the class together, having lunch together, afternoon addas with tea and singara, occasionally going for a movie or theatre together, for girls having the ultimate shopping gang — life shall seem all fun and games. With this gang, a group study will be something you would love to join in, discussing the new and rather hard topics that went straight above your head in the class, become so much easier when discussed among friends. People say, a university corridor itself can offer you knowledge. Imagine yourself with your new friends, making a circle and sitting at a wide balcony or on the grass in front of your faculty building, the afternoon sun shining through, and time goes slow, you are either relaxingly gossiping about random things, or agitatedly discussing the syllabus of the upcoming midterm, it is still a pretty picture.

Coming to the other side of the mirror, all this love and care, it does get bitter pretty often too. Be prepared to be betrayed by someone you will probably have taken to be your best friend. Be prepared to be in a tough competition for getting a good result, people often make it personal. The desire to do better than your friends might drive you more than the desire of achieving a good result and nurturing knowledge itself. If you don’t start working, you will have more than enough time to get into the drama a university has to offer. Every department, every batch, every section and every group of friends come up with a list of things they argue about, fight about, and start a verbal war on. Whether you want to be a part of it or not, up to you. You might be dragged in, but whether you respond or not, up to you.

Aparajeyo Bangla, in front of the Faculty of Arts of University of Dhaka,has become an iconic sculpture over the time representing dreams of admission seekers.  –Wikimedia Commons

If you are not much into socialising as an individual, university does not become cruel for you either, that is the charm of it. As stated before, it is more wide and open, there are so many people that if you never get involved with them, chances are, even if you are a topic of discussion among others, they will still leave you alone, unlike schools and colleges. For public universities with huge campuses, it is much easier to be just by yourself. The libraries usually have a huge collection of books which are rarely touched by students in general. If you are an antisocial nerd (nothing to be ashamed or proud about, just another personality trait), good news for you, you are in for a treat. You can always go and visit those books at the library lying unused, unread.

When it comes to pure academics, you will probably meet some of the most magnificent human beings, aka, teachers at this very platform. Some classes will end with the blink of an eye as you get overtly indulged, some teachers talk like magicians, you won’t be able to take your eyes off their face, ears off their voice. Their depth of knowledge will fascinate you, make you loathe yourself for knowing so little, also make you push yourself hard to understand what they are teaching you and beyond.

Some teachers are plain senior friends, along with teaching, they will guide you through, troubleshoot your problems for you; they are not many in number, but if you find one, consider yourself the luckiest. Some teachers will be the best source of references; some are always looking to engage you with extra-curricular activities.

If truth be told, there are mirror opposites of the angel like teachers too. Some of them would be terrible at teaching, some will be unnecessarily haughty, snobbish, some will never give you good grades even if you wrote everything correctly, some will slyly take advantage of the students. They are to be dealt with a cool head. Going after them in return may never bring a positive result for you.

Having said all that, maintaining a good relationship with the teachers usually come to one’s help as they often counsel the students and some teachers may offer you good work opportunities. However, keeping it strictly professional is a must, no one can stand that one student who is voluntarily at the beck and call of a teacher.

A man sitting in front a colourful graffiti at the bus stop of Jahangirnagar University. - Wikimedia Commons

Your academic result might encounter ups and downs, some semesters may surprise you with unexpected good results, some semesters may do the vice versa. Giving up altogether because of a bad result almost never discourages a university student, you will still go on.

Coming to perks of university life, you can visit those seminars organised every other week, the talks are usually very educative. Take part in the huge pool of extracurricular activities and organisations a university offers you to be a part of and work for. Many professional connections for your future career are made at this stage, often without you knowing it. More than that, being a part of an organisation will teach you many things, starting from life skills to handling administrative works to maintaining national and international communications.

The public universities enjoy an advantage that the private university students unfortunately miss out on, that is the dorm life. The food will be gruesome at times, shared bathrooms, shared bed –even then, you will come out of the university having made a special bond with your roommates. Contrary to the scenario will of course be present too, no one said it will be all lovey-dovey, but it will be a lesson to keep. Dorm life will finally teach you to be more independent, to take care of yourself from cooking your own food to doing your laundry.

Some might get involved in politics, for the better or the worse. On one hand, there have been students with many possibilities who got lost in the course of political involvement, on the other hand, some found themselves the right path, seeding the future leader in them. Being conscious about it, and seeking guidance from a knowledgable person may help you in this case.

To wrap it up, the biggest lie of all you may have heard is that everything goes easy and smooth when one gets into a university. It does not. But what university life most certainly does is that, it teaches you to live life. It is a serious disillusionment for ones who thought life to be a bed of roses. Maturing up, looking at the surroundings and the world from a more open window, understanding society, politics, human beings, branches of knowledge, alternate ways of life, these are all taught at the university, only if you are willing to learn. It has to offer you everything, if you are to take it in.

Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree is a member of the New Age Youth Team.


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