Most students in the twelfth grade look forward to stepping into a new phase of their lives by entering college. This concept has never seemed alien or like something that was other than normal. Very naturally, most of us too, from the batch of 2025, were keen to go to college and I am certain this was something many were dreaming about for years.
The COVID-19 pandemic however, had different plans and as expected, the world was brought to a standstill. Literally the whole world was shut down, offices switched to work from home, schools and colleges closed down and virtual classrooms became the new ‘in thing’. Those already in college had to contend themselves with digital interaction with their friends and people could simply not wait for things to ‘get back to normal’ and to return to college. After all, college may not be all fun and games, but it is some about of fun and games, right?
Those of us who had to make the transition from school to college, found ourselves shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty as all entrance exams were postponed and the pushing back of their dates seemed ceaseless after a while. So, when the AIL LET 2020 did take place on the 29th of August, 2020, it was a huge barricade crossed, especially from pandemic standards.
Classes began in November, and after a fairly awkward ice-breaking session, we were all set to go. Raring to move to college over Google Meet. The dangers of the pandemic lurked, but we were ever optimistic, hoping for college to actually reopen so we could experience what college life was all about. No one really likes to not meet their batchmates, do they? We were doing just that and had not even met them once before to have had the chance to foster some kind of a bond.
In January, as things started to take a turn for the better, the possibility of us being on campus increased. Some of us were elated, some apprehensive. This led to elaborate discussions on reopening of college, these were infused with scientific logic, some reasoning and a lot of emotion (cannot say whether or not they ended well, because some things are just batch things). As is obvious, the two major concerns for everyone were the pandemic situation and with its apparent waning at the time, the probability of end semester exams being held offline loomed large.
After many debates and plans made in the ambiguity of the situation at hand, the stimulus seemed to die down. All the constant checking of the college website for updates to no avail, had us give up on the prospects of reopening. That is when a senior forwarded the reopening notice to me and the “Instructions Regarding Joining the Institute” found their way to the class group. The silence that ensued was the actual personification of the calm before the storm and I cannot even stress upon this enough. The next few days were strewn with confusion, excitement and equal parts unease, for the first years were to join college from the 1st of February onwards.
Over the next few days, plans were made and many of our batchmates did, in fact report to college. This inspired some more to do the same. No one wanted to miss out on the fun that the hostellers were having and definitely pandemic-related apprehensions did go down seeing some return to normalcy by the trailblazers of the class of 2025. From a trickle of students poring in, there was progress made to the point when a tsunamic wave of students landed on campus! As of now, around 50% of the batch strength is in the college, attending classes in their truest sense and bonding with each other and with the fifth years, who are the only batch apart from ours who’ve joined.
The rest of us are looking forward to joining college too, but the fact of the matter is that we are home because of the pandemic, and the pandemic is still here. The number of cases is again on a rise and there are apprehensions about maintaining social distancing and following COVID-19 protocols when staying in a hostel. Many of us were planning to join in March but now the next semester seems more feasible. The lack of clarity on the mode of conduct and dates of the end semester exams is another issue altogether.
It really is a tough decision to make in these unprecedented times. Can we afford to throw caution out of the window and be lax with regard to the situation? I think not. Without widespread access to the COVID vaccine and any reliable cure to the disease the virus causes, there are always doubts and questions to answer. Our age group may not be one of the vulnerable ones, but there is always something that can go wrong. Things can, very rightly, also move on in a desirable manner, but there is little that can help ward away the hesitancy for some of us.
Online learning has also not been a cakewalk, with a lot of us just struggling to waddle through our classes with the monotony of staring at blank screens and chat boxes notifying us of network issues and mics not working. If I was to rate virtual classes on a scale of 1-5, I would very generously rate them a 2 (which is still higher than what this one senior would rate my humour). Classes with face-to-face interaction make the teaching and learning process a hundred times more effective, thereby making offline exams an ideal way of assessment. At this point of time, we find ourselves in the dark regarding exams which further hampers our plans to move to college, if at all before the next semester commences.
Every single day has become a subtle reminder that this is perhaps the last time we will truly be home, not coming to visit only for vacations. Also, perhaps the last time we will have to not be ‘adulting’ as a normal part of our lives. As this pandemic takes its course with an unpredictable virus, all the pros and cons have to be pitted against each other to figure out the best course of action, not just for ourselves, but also for those around us. Our actions have consequences which go far beyond than what meets the eye (mini lesson on adulting, part one of many).
In the forthcoming days, there will be decisions every single one of us makes. I am certain everyone will put in all of their analytical and reasoning prowess, sprinkled with a bit of human emotion, to decide what they plan to do until the pandemic is brought under control. There is a whole new world to explore out there and experiences that await us. The Universe, I am sure, has planned out the best for all of us. But for us mere mortals, we can simply wait and watch how everything plays out for us. For now, all we can do is ponder upon and make our next move: to the laptop or college.
This article has been written by Sakshi Narwal, Ist year