By Sahil Loomba
What you’ve achieved, is no mean feat. In a few days, you’ll be arriving at IIT Delhi, wide-eyed and awestruck by the beauty of the campus. By the imposing architecture. The grand lecture halls. Accomplished professors. Like-minded people who’ll become lifelong friends in no time. Excitement bursting at its seams, as you set out on a journey lasting a quarter of your life yet.
Sooner than later though, you might find this excitement waning. Interest fizzling out when a lecture bores you. Fights breaking up when your roommate won’t cooperate. Frustration when the hostel mess dal appears too watery, while the hostel toilet stays parched of water. You feel too sleepy to go to class. And there’s lots more that could happen next, to every one of you. In the hope that your ride is not unguided, here are five points you can fall back on, when you find yourself confused and in need for some counsel.
- Remain humble
You’ve cleared a very prestigious examination to reach where you are. You are, clearly, a very intelligent individual. And you come with your own set of experiences, expectations and excitement as you enter IIT. Proud, yet humbled to be amidst a culture of excellence. Retain this humility through your life at IIT. Be receptive and open-minded, to people and to new experiences. And as you move along, with the years passing, do not forget the innocence of tall aspirations you started out with. The curious zeal for learning and finding yourself, both professionally and personally. Because when the destination seems far too hazy, as it often will, your starting point becomes your only anchor.
- Be patient
Not everything that happens to you would be great. You might realise, only after a few days, that you are no longer the topper of the batch. Feelings of underachievement might overwhelm you. You might find a professor faring below the standards that you expected at IIT. It’s natural to behave short-sightedly and feel bad about these situations. But, be patient. Because patience buys you time. And with time, you’ll realise that being the smartest is not really that important. With time, you’ll come across a professor whose lectures would be so interesting that you wouldn’t miss their 8 AM lecture. With time, you’ll find your hidden talent. With time, you’ll find your future spouse. (This one might be stretching our hopes too far, but still.)
- Don’t be lazy
The hard work of JEE is tiring. You must be worn out. Feel free to take it easy, steadily. But don’t fall prey to the lure of laziness. There’s no denying the immense comfort of doing nothing. Of sitting inside your hostel room, in the company of your laptop, a book, a friend, or just sleep. Relish that. But don’t forget to look outside the window of your room. Where the campus would be buzzing with activity and opportunity. Start off with looking, watching, exploring, finding your groove. And with patience (refer to point 2), you’ll find yourself unearthing reasons, and more importantly a drive, for attending lectures, doing dance practices, speaking at debates, volunteering for social work, writing for the student magazine… All this, only if you don’t be lazy.
- Follow others, but lead yourself
One of the most common words in the IIT Delhi lingo, which will soon be rolling off your tongues, is “fundae”. Fundae for DepC, for PORs, for ForEx, for Hukke, for Intern, for PPO, for Placements. When seniors share their wealth of wisdom. And they’ll always be helpful to you. Seek advice, be open to opinions and suggestions. On which courses to take, which professors to not engage in an argument with, and which positions of responsibility to apply for. Take in the advice, but don’t just take it. Digest it. Pepper it with your own interests, preferences, sources of meaning and happiness. Let your inner voice be what eventually leads you in directions that you draw out. Because your years at IIT are (hopefully) numbered and defining. What you do here, every day, over months, will shape who you are when you leave this place. IIT Delhi will be the house that builds you. And we don’t wish to be living in identical houses, do we?
- Be appreciative and critical, afraid and fearless
These are not paradoxical parables. One of the important things you will master at IIT Delhi is maintaining a fine balance. Between academics and co-curricular activities. Between sleeping and bakaiti. Between friends and more-than-friends. And so, you will also find your balance between being appreciative and being critical. Admiring and encouraging not only your friends, but professors, and yourself. Being critical of them should the need be. And also, between being afraid and fearless. You’ll be charting new territories, there will be open challenges which you might be too scared to accept, simply because they are daunting. Don’t be scared to accept them. But be afraid of not accepting anything. Which shall then be accompanied by a fearlessness to put your heart into it.
There is one more point, and I’d like to call it point Zero. (I was a CS undergrad at IIT Delhi, so counting begins at 0 anyway.) Your journey at IIT Delhi is, on the face of it, four years towards a degree in engineering. But never forget, that these four years are from your own life, which spans beyond just that degree. Right now, you enter IIT Delhi while being in love with the idea of it. What they show in the news. Through photos, stories and interviews. Once you’re inside, you’ll be on a roller-coaster which goes through many climbs, loops, valleys and falls. Somewhere in the middle, you might feel lost, a bit unhappy. Be sure to call back home in the middle of a well. Be sure to make and have friends alongside in this trip. Make your time at IIT memorable. So by the time you leave this place, you are no longer in love with the idea of it. Rather, you’re in love with the people and places it contains.
All the best!