I am not exaggerating when I write that these past few months at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Colombo have been an adventure. There have been highs, lows, a lot of laughing, a good sprinkle of crying, and quite a few distressed texts to my friends and family. Before I began this, I promised myself to write as honest an account of my experiences as possible. So here is the unfiltered version of my university experiences.
The first semester of our first year was done entirely online through Zoom; still, I was so excited. Here it is, finally, something I’ve been waiting for, for over two years. I woke up early (lectures began at 8 a.m.), had breakfast, showered, got all the books out, and was ready at least an hour before. I was the model student for those first few weeks until I slowly started to change. I forgot my breakfast, or I’d have my breakfast during the lecture. Sometimes I’d still be wearing my PJs because this girl chose to set the alarm only five minutes before the lecture. Even worse, sometimes I’ll log into the lecture and fall asleep because all I needed was that five per cent of marks for attendance. I must clarify that I didn’t do that for every class. I just did it when it became unbearable.
In the second semester, we started on-site lectures, and to my horror, I realized I could not escape lectures now. I have had to endure painfully boring lectures that went on for two excruciating hours (who came up with the idea of two-hour lectures, seriously?). Although I enjoy many lectures and love coming to university, the truth is that you might have to go through a few horrible lectures. It is a shared reality of all university students. I even slept during a lecture at NAT for the first time. Not an in-and-out kind of nap, but a good solid one. Am I proud of it? No. Was it worth it? Yes, because I was just so tired.
The worst is when you are bone tired from lectures with no gap in between and must keep going as if nothing is wrong. The lecturers demand your attention, rightfully so, and you must look at least a bit energetic. Sometimes, the lecturers are a bit scary, for lack of a better word, and you cannot afford to lose concentration, so you just march on. The smartphone has been so helpful in some instances. At one point, one of our lecturers asked us to take our phones out and check something, and my friends and I could only chuckle because we were already on our phones.
I have to mention that some lectures will teach some of the most interesting things you’ve ever learned. Some lecturers can get you hooked on the lesson throughout its entirety. I reiterate that checking the phone during lectures or not focusing on them is not something you should do, but sometimes life happens, and you might just be too tired or simply out of it. We are human, and all have our fair share of off days. Therefore, I pay attention to most of my lectures (emphasis on “most”). I’ve also realized that completing the assigned reading on time greatly helps. Take it from me, if you go to a lecture without doing that, you’ll be lost, and when all of it piles up, you’ll be overwhelmed.
With all these lectures, assignments, and the massive workload, we still have fun at university! So don’t think it’s all work and no fun. The time spent between lectures with friends is my best and fondest memory. Since it’s hard to find a seat on the benches, we usually sit in the grass near the Arts’ Faculty entrance and talk, munching on bites from the “Ala” Canteen. The “Ala” canteen is our go-to spot for food. The table and benches are often occupied there, so we would just stand and sip on a super-hot Nescafe. Most often, all we do is just hang out and talk or play a game of Scrabble. We know we can go to the Greens but are still drawn to the outside. The exterior of the university looks beautiful despite the scorching heat, and I always feel at ease. The shade from the trees, all the fallen leaves and sticks we fiddle with, and the cool breeze are incredible. The evenings are somehow even more beautiful, especially when the lampposts are turned on. Thankfully, we were never ragged, and life has been relatively peaceful.
My other favourite spot in the university is definitely our library. I was awestruck the first time I went there, but then I always got excited around books. You can just stay in the library for hours reading or studying; they have a good selection! It is another one of our hang-out spots, where we study or read together in silence. I highly recommend going there if you haven’t already! It is also fun to be a part of these fantastic clubs and societies, such as the English debating club and Rotaract club. I struggled to balance studying and extracurricular work, but it was worth it. They have helped me meet more people, learn new things, and provide a much-needed creative outlet.
The takeaway is that you will stumble, which might initially be difficult. I went to university hoping everything would come easy, but that is not the case like everything in life. There will be odd moments, disastrous moments, and joyous ones. You have to take them in your stride and enjoy these moments. I know I need to practice what I preach, as I’m myself am still learning (I mean, I’ve slept during lectures!). Still, I always remind myself that I only have very little time at university, time goes fast, and I must make the best of it. So, try new things, go out with your friends, and join clubs even if it scares you because it all be worth it in the end.
Rtr. Kusali Rupasinghe
Share this content: