Missing from college life — the DU experience – The Hindu

The experience of college life has remained unfulfilled for the soon-to-be graduates from Delhi University. | Photo Credit: File Photo
S.V. Vaishnavi  
They came, they saw, they graduated. That’s the story of Delhi University’s batch of 2022 in short, and perhaps in the longer version. Between July 2019, when the undergraduate students joined the colleges, and May 2022, when they wrote their final-year papers, there weren’t enough campus days for them to add their rich “DU experience” to the story.
A deadly virus disrupted the joys of teaching and learning during the last two years and among the worst sufferers of the COVID-19 pandemic were the students who got to attend physical classes for barely six months before the universities shut down. 
The experience of college life has remained unfulfilled for the soon-to-be graduates. The batch of 2022 is perhaps an ill-fated one, having to miss two substantial years of their academic life, compelled to stare at laptop screens instead of classroom boards and switch to Netflix during online classes in place of perhaps bunking classes for a cultural fest. 
“We attended the freshers’ party and now the farewell.  The in-between happening months of life in DU, making friends, organising and attending cultural fests, competitions and club activities, interacting with professors and classmates, everything went missing,” rued Deepika, an English (Hon) student at Hansraj College. The pre-COVID six months experience is all that she treasures now of her college life. 
Like her, there are many who dreamt of studying in DU, being a part of the bustling beauty of the campus and enjoying the kerfuffle over events. “But all of it remains unfulfilled now,” Deepika added. “The new normal was difficult to adjust to; initially I was glad about the mini-vacation, attending classes from the comfort of my bed and avoiding the Delhi heat,” said Isha, a political science (Hon) student at Sri Aurobindo College. “But when it prolonged to two dreadful years of mundaneness, it became a struggle to cope with,” she said. 
Sejal, a B.Com student from Jesus and Mary College, was part of the college education programme (JMCEP) that entails teaching underprivileged children residing near the university.  Many children did not have smartphones to connect online. Some of their phones had WhatsApp facility and we used that to teach the children and keep in touch with their parents,” she said, adding, “We managed to fulfil the programme objective.” There were many others who utilised the time in exploring new hobbies and skills and rediscovering themselves.   
Isha, head of a drama society, Moksh, said, the pandemic put a stop to their rehearsals and stage shows. “But as a team we quickly adapted and trained ourselves and other new members to do things online, such as recording monologues and solo acting in front of the camera, in order to sustain the essence of theatre,” she said.  
 Post-pandemic reopening of colleges this year enabled the batch of 2022 to create a buzz in the final semester. “Though there were many COVID-19 protocols to be followed, we were glad to be back to experience classroom teaching and campus life in DU,” said Isha and recalled a concert by singer KK (who recently passed away) at the Hindu College fest on March 25. “It was a houseful show and I was one among many who scaled the wall to enter the arena. Would I get another chance to make this kind of memory? I am glad I was out there for the concert,” she said.   
Unfortunately, the majority of the students of the batch of 2022, who will be graduating soon, shared the same sentiment of “FOMO (fear of missing out)“ . They perhaps grew up watching and imagining the life on DU campus, but lost the opportunity when their turn came to step into the hallowed portals of some of the best colleges in the country.  
The pandemic affected their academics and co-curricular activities and now when they are getting ready to step into the real world outside their campuses, many of the students feel they are unequipped and half-prepared to take on the challenges of full-fledged graduates.   
There is an underlying sense of incompleteness. “If I could, I would love to go back and pursue the degree all over again. And this time on campus,” a student summed it up for her peers.  

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 10:20:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/missing-from-college-life-the-du-experience/article65540083.ece
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