I remember the summer after I finished my 12th grade. I had appeared for all major competitive examinations for admission into an engineering course. The curriculum and the coaching had taken its toll on, and my enthusiasm was ebbing away. Frankly, I had lost interest and didn’t know if engineering was what I really wanted to do. My first visit to Manipal was rather depressing. It was for the orientation of students into different streams of engineering courses. I was not sure if this was the college I wanted to attend. Even the greenery and frequent rains could not cheer me up. My mom had accompanied me and I remember I was mostly silent throughout our trip.
For the lack of better options, I decided to take up Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) at Manipal. So there I was, on July 2011 all set to begin my college life. I was full of self-doubt and apprehension; all of which was soon going to vanish! My first pleasant experience came four days after I arrived. Some of us from the same girls hostel decided to explore the most touristy place, The End Point. A few of us decided to explore further and reached a stream. It was windy and it was raining sporadically. We saw the rain and the clouds approaching us and the wind overturning our umbrellas. It was a cathartic experience and I started falling in love with the place.
My first year section was filled with people from all across India, and I was constantly engulfed in the chasm of different viewpoints on the same topic. Such diversity was a culture shock to me, but soon I wanted to discover areas where I could be good at. This marked my quest into exploring myself- which eventually gave birth to some of my hidden talents. It’s true that Manipal is a Mecca of Extra Curricular Activities- it’s the place where you will find lots of budding Entrepreneurs, Singers and Writers, etc. Had this not been the case, probably I would never really have groomed my innate talents.
Like any other college, one hears a lot of rumours about the place, the courses etc and one of the most prominent one in Manipal is that Electrical Engineering is too tough, it’s a ‘Five Year Course’, you had to study a lot to pass. Failure percentage was higher than any other branch. Being a fresher of EEE, this particular old wives’ tale scared me. All that I really wanted in my first year was to understand the subjects related to electrical engineering well enough, that’s it. I enjoyed the basic electrical and electronics courses in first year; they were my favorite subjects. By the end of first year I was sure that I wanted to pursue only electrical engineering and nothing else.
This small effort made me enjoy my academics for the remaining years.
The next three years were spent in pursuing my core branch. I think benefits of taking EEE were multifold – it taught me the art of keeping my nose to the grindstone without getting bogged down. Sometime, the lab work would get frustrating or I would doze off between the lectures, but then I had to prove myself that I can survive this. That I shouldn’t give up.
It also helped that I was in section C of EEE, which had some of the brightest and fiercely competitive minds. I have fond memories with my section mates – be it eating Chinese Samosa during the 10 A.M break, the friendly banter during the LAB hours, the endless Xerox notes session from various sources, the ultimate bashing up during birthdays and placements, or the gossip sessions in between subjects like Analog Electronics or EOM – all these memories are deep rooted in me. During exams, it was funny how people with good handwriting notes were suddenly the talk of the town and how their notes used to sell like hot cakes! EEE also had some of the best professors, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible for me to score a 9 point CGPA!
Personally, the most enjoyable semesters for me were the seventh and eighth semester. Seventh semester taught me how to multitask – attending placement sessions, post placement parties and at the same time not losing track of what’s going on in the curriculum, was quite an experience. I stretched myself beyond what I could imagine, and this gave me a sense of freedom and fulfilment. Eighth semester, on the other hand was the exact opposite – we chilled out a lot, had lot of fun and used to make regular trips to Gokarna, Goa, Malpe, Manipal Lake and other beautiful places. It was almost like all play and no work can also make Jack a dull boy! But then, as the sem was about to end – there was an air of melancholy surrounding the otherwise hip and happening Manipal campus. The end was inevitable, but all of us wanted to somehow time travel and revisit the time when we had just joint.
Today when I think about my life in Manipal it’s not the grades that invoke happiness; even then it wasn’t, certainly not as much as the friendships and bonds. We were 10 of us, all girls from the same hostel and we became like a family. We all stayed in adjacent rooms for all four years and most of the time all 10 of us would be packed in a single room guffawing over any and everything. Manipal gave me friends for life and they are what I miss the most about my college life.
There are way too many arguments about futility of a college degree, about how one hardly gains any practical knowledge etc and I concede with many of them. I know for a fact that the electrician who visits my house has much better knowledge about three phase systems than I ever will. Then why must one attend college you may ask. It’s because it is a one of a kind experience. You’re young and trying to make sense of the world around you but you have many others as ignorant and knowledgeable as you accompanying you in the process. Before I started college, I was extremely opinionated. Everything for me would either be just right or wrong. Coming to Manipal opened up my mind. I saw people bold enough to make decisions that I was always too coward to make, people who made different choices about life. Manipal taught me how to not be judgmental about anyone or their decisions. It was here that I learned that live and let live was the best philosophy to go by. These life lessons are dearer to me today than any other course. Most important of all, being in Manipal made me realize that the course you take up or the college you attend or the grades you score are just secondary things once you learn to look at a bigger picture!
Back in the day I used to find it really lame, but now I cannot help but join the chorus: Mighty Mighty MIT!!!
Suchitra Rudra and Anubhav Shrivastava (Proud Alumni of Electrical and Electronics Batch of 2015, Manipal)