Thursday, August 2, 2012


Written by Mehak Siddiqui

The second of August is an important date in my life. Last year, on this day, I moved 1200 kilometers away from my hometown of Ahmedabad to come to the University of Hyderabad for postgraduate studies.

I had never lived away from my family before so was both nervous and excited. On the night of first August, I couldn’t sleep at all in anticipation of my early morning flight out to Hyderabad. Once here, the admission formalities took an agonizingly long time to complete and it was around 4.30 p.m when I finally got a room in the ladies hostel. Sleep deprived and without having had any lunch due to standing in the long queues all
day, all I wanted to do was collapse into bed. But first, I had to lug my heavy suitcases to the hostel room. And then, I was in for a bit of a shock. No, actually, a big shock. I learned that each hostel room – meant for two people – was being allocated to three persons. Hence, I was stuck with two roommates, no bed, and no space to unpack and store my belongings. Plus, when I went to the common bathroom to freshen up, it was in a disgusting state, with leaky taps and muddy footprints all over. I was aghast and appalled and at a complete loss about what to do.

My first thought was to call my dad – who had come to drop me off and was staying at a nearby guesthouse – to come and take me back home. I didn’t want to be in this pathetic hostel, living with two strangers and sleeping on the floor. In retrospect, I guess this extreme reaction was a direct outcome of my fairly cushioned, protected, upper-middle- class upbringing. I wasn’t used to things being uncomfortable. I had never felt so helpless in my life.

But I had yearned so much to come to U of H! I couldn’t just leave now that I was finally here. So I resisted the urge to call Dad and instead called my best friend and burst into tears. An hour later, after venting it all out, I was feeling a bit better.

And now, a year (or rather, eight months, if I minus vacation time) later, I can almost laugh about that fateful first day in hostel. I eventually moved into another room with just one roommate and a bed and closet for myself. The hostel is still the same, with its messy bathrooms and depressing air but I seem to have gotten used to it. I’ve made lots of friends and learned to just accept niggling little irritations like how there are dogs
roaming all over the place or how just one shower works in the bathrooms. I enjoy my studies and the company of my friends so much that the discomforts of being away from home don’t matter so much anymore.

Moreover, I have learned so much. Right from practical things like washing my own clothes and falling asleep even if the lights are on, to emotional adjustments such as not missing home all that much and being more accommodating of other people.

I also began to use public transport alone – something I had done only rarely back home – and became more confident and independent. What I have gained in terms of life experience at hostel and at university in general, far surpasses the little compromises I have had to make with hostel life. And when I look back at my U of H days in the years to come, I know I am going to miss them dearly. In retrospect, my postgraduate stint is proving to be one of the most enriching and rewarding times of my life.

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