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Last stop first feelings

University, they say, is the last stop of one’s educational voyage. I have been through this last stop and can tell you from my experience that this last stop if full of delights and dejections. You start big on dreams, but mostly are left grappling with nightmares. You look for quality education, but have to settle for just a degree. You enter the University as a little chattering squirrel and discover you can also roar at times.

Then suddenly, two years of your life are over.

And whether the campus gives you more delights than dejections depends on your luck. So check out.

A new batch of students joined the Kashmir University in various PG courses a few months ago. I caught up with some of them to capture their first feelings about their last stop.

Farah has spent all her life in a small time village in ----and has been at the University for over a month. A few weeks ago she moved into the University hostel. I begin by asking her what it is like being away from home and found she is already depressingly homesick. “They say it is home away from home but let me tell you nothing on this earth can replace your home,” Farah tells me. “I don’t like this feeling of being away from my home.” She tells me the food at the hostel makes this feeling even worse. “I miss the food my mother makes back at home. The food here has no taste,” Farah says. “That is such a terrible feeling. I miss my mother. I miss my home.”

Some students find it hard to adjust to the University atmosphere. There are others who are upbeat about their admission in the University. 

There was this bubbly girl, Shazia who has taken admission in the faculty of Physical Sciences. “OMG! I am so thankful to God that I am here in the university. I had studied hard to get  admission here. I don’t believe it’s the same me who would bunk classes in college. I can’t afford to miss a single class. The teachers are great,” Shazia tells me with a mile long smile. Frankly, I wanted to tell her these are early days, but didn’t want to puncture her joy of being at the University. Count your luck, Shazia!

  Some students are already thinking two years ahead when they will join the 6 lakh plus army of unemployed youth.  Frankly, their worries also worry me because I know what it is like being out of the university and unemployed. I am both.

 Amir tells me he is delighted to get admission in the University.“There is nothing like getting admission in a subject you wanted to,” says Amir. But this young man is already a worried soul. “I don’t know what will happen after I leave this University because there are no jobs in the market.” Amir tells me about an innocent wish he fancies. “Believe me I don’t want this time to pass because once you are out in the market with a degree and have no job, that’s frustrating.” Bro, I agree with you because I know it firsthand. But take heart—you are not alone. There is a long, long, very long queue.

 I bump into a bunch of girls outside the canteen and find them munching their favourite chips and chatting away. But there is this little cute girl who has enrolled in English Literature and whom I find unusually meek and quiet. I ask her why she is so quiet. “I don’t know I have a strange feeling. There is this strangeness among our class. I am not able to gel with my classmates.”  But why not, I ask her. “They may be good but there are students who project themselves as “I know everything” and that creates a certain divide in the class. This divide upsets me.”

Well, it happens, young lady. You will get used to it. But don’t lose your confidence.

While some newcomers have difficulties making friends, I see many others thrilled about the fresh faces around them. There is this group of students from Earth Science department having lunch together. They tell me they have just met each other and have become good friends.

“It’s fantastic to be here. In college we weren’t attentive towards studies but here they make you study. Our classmates are just amazing,” one of them says almost like a spokesperson of the group. Well, all I can tell you is, wait and let that petty politics creep in. Then you will have divisions within divisions. And then more divisions.And more frenemies than friends.

While most students  say sweet things about their new teachers, a guy tells me of a horror story. But he warns me, “Don’t ever name me in your report. Otherwise they will get me.” Sure, buddy.

So what is this horror all about, I want to know from this young lad. And he begins. “On the second day at the University, I interrupted a senior professor while delivering a lecture. I had few simple questions to ask. When I asked my first question she replied very reluctantly. Then I had a second question, this time her reply to my question was “Battameez, Paddhaane do mujhe.” 

If this is actually what happened, then I can sympathise  andempathise with you. I have been through similar horrors myself. But never mind—hotarehtahai.

As I go around the campus, I see this girl sitting alone in a classroom at the Faculty of Science. It is lunch break. “Anything wrong?,” I ask her. She tells me she is not happy with the syllabus. “There are certain concepts that we have already studied in graduation. I don’t understand what need is it to keep those in the syllabus of PG. Those concepts are already clear to us they can add something better to the syllabus.”

By the way, a new system has been introduced in the Kashmir University that goes by the name of open elective, generic elective and credit system. Apart from core subjects, a student is given a choice to study any subject from any department or faculty which he/she is interested in. I find most students cribbing about this change. They tell me they don’t understand this system.

“It’s not only students who are confused about the new elective system. We think administration is also confused,”  says a student, who wouldn’t like to be named. His buddies add, “Our department tells us to go to the dean office in order to choose the subject and there people tell us it’s the duty of your department to help you in choosing the subject. We don’t know what to do.”

But some students have been lucky. They had initial complaints, but they tell me their teachers helped them out. They still have a valid complaint. “I want to know why the authorities didn’t inform us about this new system before admissions,” says a chirpy young girl from the Earth Sciences Department.

I broach this issue with the Dean, Academics, Prof Ashraf Wani and he says aal is well, nothing to worry. “Do you know even as academicians it took us almost three years to understand this system and you are talking about the confusion among students? They are not to be blamed,” the learned professor explains. He goes on to add, “Usually students come to know about the syllabi and courses only after the admissions not before. It’s normal. There is nothing to make hue and cry about.”

Well, all I can say is a big OMG!

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