A Place of Hope and Depression

A Place of Hope and Depression

On my very first day at university, I ended up lost. It was quite a memorable day and became the very first day of many where I would end up being lost in university or on a journey back home from the place. Suffice to say, ending up in Slave Island, of all places. without knowing a thing about Colombo was quite the experience. This was followed by the very first day of orientation, where I ended up being late because I had to get off the train early due to certain complications, and ended up spending Rs. 2000 on a taxi to university. I knew that I was in for a very long ride. 

I entered the Faculty of Arts with lots of hopes for my degree and a certain pride that I was finally a university student at the university where I’ve been told to go since I started schooling because that was the only way to have a good life for people like me. Whether or not that is true, remains to be seen. With never-ending assignments, exams, 8 a.m. lectures, and the joys of being an adult, it’s honestly a miracle how we even survive university. 

Your early 20s are supposed to be the best time of your life. Thanks to the university, I met a lot of people, many of whom I didn’t think I’d end up being close friends with.  From shy, introverted girls to seniors who were about to graduate and chaotic, clumsy, but sweet girls who made the day better, there were so many people who I would have otherwise never met. Without even realising it, it felt like we knew each other for years, even if it was only a few months. And even if they may not have realized it, all these people made me happier than I was before. Unfortunately, I also met people I severely disliked—people I used to respect but no longer do. I learnt a tough lesson about adulthood after coming here: even if you dislike people, you will have to bear with them. 

The university had a whole different culture than the school. After going to an all-girls school for so long, being placed in an environment with men (even as few as there were in the Faculty of Arts) was a little odd. There’s university politics, which is a matter that I have long decided to avoid. Romance was strictly forbidden back then, and you could get in trouble for even talking to a male relative. But there are no such restrictions here. When walking down the hallway to a lecture, it’s not uncommon to see a couple being affectionate right in front of your single soul’s eyes. The crows that just stare into your soul when you eat, the dog that is more attentive than students and always attends lectures, the canteens that are always crowded, and the freedom to do literally whatever you want except anything illegal, unlike in school: all of this made university a very interesting but liberating place. 

Joining Rotaract happened on a whim. I didn’t have a clear idea of what it entailed, and I didn’t know how much of an impact it would have on my life, but I knew that I wanted to do something for others. And little by little, with each project that I did, I learnt more and more about the club and more about who I was as a person. Rotaract made me experience many things—things that I never would have thought I would have ever done before. I never thought I would have been someone who organised an event, a fundraiser, or even interacted with so many people – I’ve always been scared, thinking that I’m not good enough. Rotaract helped me overcome those fears. 

There were a lot of hurdles that I encountered over the past year. Exams where I didn’t get the perfect grade, assignments where I had no idea what to do, group presentations that went horrid: all of these created a lot of stress and a lot of panicking too. But there are also the memories of going to cafés with my friends, sitting at Independence Square, feeling the wind on our faces, and window shopping in the expensive, definitely-not-broke-university-student-friendly shops, complaining about life and feeding into each other’s delusions. It’s only been a year, and there’s so much more to feel, to learn, and to experience. I look forward to seeing how we all grow as people and who we’ll become.  

– Rtr. Vibhavee Sarathchandra

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