The 2020ba batch of the Arts faculty here at Colombo University turned out to continue its legacy as the guinea pig batch. For example, we were the first batch to face the renewed A/L syllabus in 2019 and to our misfortune we were the university batch that also had to start our journey at university amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Life has been the personification of Maze Runner with so many trials and tests (LITERALLY!). Nonetheless, life at university has been an eye opener for us twenty-year olds who were getting accustomed from school life to semi-adult life. 

Learning how to navigate – both literally (via Google Maps) and figuratively (just emotionally)given that some of us didn’t reside in Colombo, has become second nature to us at this point. As such, we thought it would only be fit and proper to share our words of wisdom with the rest of you. 

(Disclaimer – article contains Sri Lankan aunty terminology; not for the faint hearted)

TT’s words of wisdom: don’t be an entitled brat 

There have been many times where we’ve complained about the facilities at university (especially the Arts’ Faculty!). From the confusing corridors to the pungent washrooms and lecture halls with non-functional fans, the number of complaints we have had is countless. Yet we never stop to think about the opportunity that has been granted to us on a platter. The university has a multitude of great courses and programs; we have a variety of societies and extra-curriculars; along with one of the best libraries in the country, and the best part – it’s all free! 

Yes, it is often very warm, and perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing as we’d choose. Yet there have been countless times where we’d hangout at university because we were too broke to go elsewhere, or simply because that’s the only place some of us were allowed to go to, either way, whatever little complaints that we have, we ought not take the … that has been given to us for granted. Yes, some would say that university is a concrete jungle, but it is our concrete jungle, and it is only us who have the ability to appreciate it for what it truly is, a melting pot of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and a place for growth.

Finding the courage to okay with being disliked according to Birdie

For anyone I’d argue that adjusting from school to university is a leap. When you come from a place that didn’t really care if you were loud or outspoken for the most part (at least for some of us), to learning in an environment that observes and in a way merits those who fit a certain box of characteristics…it was quite hard. This stereotyping of sorts emerged from peer-peer, lecture-student relationships. However, even amidst the nights of sadness and tears or just simply having fits of anger, it provided an opportunity for me to develop dragon skin overtime. Furthermore, it helped me to realize and make peace with the fact that I won’t be liked by all, neither do you need to be liked by all. When you are surrounded by the love of your family, friends and most importantly your own love for yourself, the negativity that people throw at you transforms into grass that you trample when you walk. This realization is never an instant development, it will take time. It certainly took me at least 100s of different varieties of cakes, binge watching Ted Lasso (best comedy EVER), and simply just venting it out until the cows have gone to sleep to be somewhat better at dealing with the hokum of not being liked or accepted. To be honest I still struggle from this time to time, and I do absorb negativity like my mother’s dishwashing sponge that’s replaced weekly. But I mean it when I say that in the grand scheme of things all that matters is what you feel about yourself, and how you respect yourself. I firmly believe that being part of the university system helps you to filter out people that are unhealthy for you, so that you surround yourself with people that help you grow and vice versa. It will take a bucket load of courage to be okay with being disliked. To add to the cringe…Cue lyrics to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. 

The more the merrier? TT’s take on how it’s not always the case

It is a universally acknowledged notion that the more people in a crowd, the more fun you’re likely to have. This is a shared sentiment amongst most young people, especially in the context of university. It is, admittedly, a sentiment that I too harbored during my first few months at university. As luck would have it however, making friends was infinitely more difficult when your first university experience is restricted to staring at a screen for 6 hours. Nevertheless, I did venture out. 

Given the vast number of students at university, one would naturally assume that making lots of friends would be easy; and while I did see that happening with many others, I soon realized that there was a difference between being friendly and having friends. Whilst society has declared that a positive correlation exists between the number of friends one has and the amount of “fun/fond memories” one makes, it has also made the entire process more of a chore. In a world where frenzied flamboyant posting on social media has seemingly overtaken meaningful relationships, finding people you connect with has become infinitely more difficult, and in that same vein, infinitely more important. Perhaps it is an overused saying, but I’ll say it nonetheless, quality beats quantity, every single time; and in this respect I must say I have been very lucky indeed. While my initial instinct was to fall into that same trap of making as many friends as possible, I’m glad to say that the few friends I ended up making have been true gems and have enriched my time here at university. 

The takeaway point being, that numbers really don’t matter so much as the spirit of the friendship. While it is easy to get caught up in the rush to make friends and go out every evening, taking the time to find people you truly connect with makes for stronger and more lasting bonds. Friendships don’t have to be loud; they don’t have to be centered solely on embarking on daring adventures and dance parties; it is rather the comfort and contentment one feels in knowledge that no matter how life turns out, there’s someone in your corner of the world who’ll be there for you. 

Birdie’s take on appreciating the little things

Eating food 24×7 at university is a no brainer decision for almost all of us. It helps with the cumulative stress, just filling your stomach even if you aren’t truly hungry, having a conversation with a group of friends, or simply just finding a reason to get late to a lecture. Whatever the reason may be, food is food and even if there is a cyclone or if some random parts of a roof were to fly towards Greens, we would still not care provided there is food. What is intricately the most valuable aspect of food at faculty is its affordability and its unique taste that we might take for granted. In way it is a privilege that we have that we can safely say will be missed once we leave university. When the world says that food brings together people, it really does. There have been many moments where there were conflicts between friends or romantic partners or within societies that inadvertently get resolved from buying each other food. I don’t exaggerate when Isay that talking over a plate of food from either the Ala canteen, juice bar, or the main Arts Faculty canteen, is equivalent to being succumbed to the Harry Potter spell Obliviate.

The usual snacks that wipe out our wallets are the parippu vades, crispy chili papadam-like rolls, Kotmale milk packet, or avocado juice to name a few from the Ala canteen. The exquisite food from the Arts faculty canteen has and will always be the pol roti & lunu miris complemented by a bottle of Coca Cola (if anyone is to contest me on that, I will diplomatically tell you why you are wrong). But of course, we can’t forget the rice and curry or the fried rice – the list goes on. Who needs a buffet from Shangri La when you can cozy up in the fields of grass near the library with some vade, kal kiri, and coconut cake? The appreciation of food at university lies in its simplicity, and I am truly privileged to have that experience at least for a few years of my life. It is this wave of appreciation that should give us all the reason to appreciate the aunties and uncles that make and provide us with this food, and also helps keep our surroundings clean. The food that we eat at university, simple as it may be, should serve as a reminder to appreciate the little things that make up the big things in life.  


Admittedly our time here at university has been Shorter than most, but the evidence suggests that we’ve had just as good a time as any. Navigating your early twenties, figuring so much on your own all while adding your list of references (MLA style!) to an assignment is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of courage to do all of it and still show up the next day. While all our experiences may’ve been different, hopefully these words of (in our opinion) wisdom will help guide you through the many adventures that the University of Colombo has to offer. To quote Spock from Star Trek – Live long and prosper. 

Yours truly,

Rtr. Tharini Ratwatte (TT)

Rtr. Shihara Ferdinando (Birdie)

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