Students are usually confused and in apprehension on their first day of university.
First 'On Campus' Spring
Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Surviving university for many has probably been the easiest task ever. It is a new world with a gateway to ample freedom and opportunity. University life is a blueprint which makes an individual the architect of his or her life. It gives them the ability to design and create a world they want to be a part of in the coming years. Determining whether the right choices are made during these years of university are extremely crucial as they can either make it or break it. This ideology is subconsciously and consciously shared by almost every teenager who enters university as a freshman.
First year students lazying around campus.
In Bangladesh, spring semester is that peak time of the year when a majority number of students enter university. In most private universities of the country, there are mainly three semesters, but for public universities there is only one entrance exam round the year, which is for spring. This season is not just the beginning of the year but is an inception in the lives of many young students. Unlike college or secondary school, students experience a complete shift in their academic and social lives. Some of these changes are natural as they come with a difference in environment and culture of two places while some adjustments are made as students move away from their villages or distant homelands to come to metropolitan cities to seek education. In addition, some compromises are made when a student's heart wishes to study a subject but he chooses to study something else because he is an obedient child or simply because fate did not have it in store for him.
Studying in groups is a common activity, especially amongst freshman.
Coping with pressure and dealing with a new environment can sometimes be tedious but as the saying goes; every cloud has a silver lining -- hope to rise above all barriers is always there. Shudipta and Sakib, students of Electrical and Electronic Department of BUET, explain how they dealt with their first year at university, “The feeling was great, with all the independence and freedom. Life was at its best. After coming to BUET, the first few days, we stayed together in the common room and somehow bonded with each other. But, initially, getting rooms in the hall was difficult and being students from outside Dhaka, it was a mental pressure as well. But, we always scouted for students from similar districts to make friends, and eventually realised how friendly everyone else around us were.”
Social networking in such cases is extremely helpful. Students who sat for the examination together or knew that they were going to be studying together in the same university could add each other on social networking sites like Facebook. As a result, everyone would seem to know everyone without even knowing their faces properly. Sakib on this note adds, “Facebook made our lives much simpler. I knew half of my 'friends' and at least something about them without knowing what they would look like.”
“As we enter university, we start growing out of this homely shell we know as life. Reality kicks in and we know we are in the real world,” says Sakib. “We are no longer broiler chickens locked in a farm by our parents!” he adds with a smirk.
For public universities like BUET and Dhaka University (DU), students say that their entrance into university life is made easier by seniors and faculty members. Most teachers are very co-operative and seniors very helpful.
The fun filled lives at university seem to rush away quickly.
Fatma from Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Dhaka University says, “I never imagined that I would come to DU. I never came to Dhaka before. This is a small city with a lot of people and a lot of things are going on at the same time, unlike my home town Bogra. I had to live in the girl's hall and since I had no local guardian in Dhaka, it was not possible to initially arrange the accommodation. But, the chairman of my department was the kindest person, who arranged to be my guardian and helped me sign up for the university residence.”
Apart from dealing with accommodations and the regular changes in environment and culture between cities, students also face the problems of choosing subjects. After finishing off with high school or secondary school, entering university and studying a subject of one's liking is not an option for students who belong to this side of the world.
Different phases of university life.
“I wanted to study Physics and had no interest in Engineering. But, unfortunately I am here and I am doing as I was told by my parents,” explains Badal from BUET. Imran, also a student of the same university says, “I want to become a successful entrepreneur. That is exactly where I see myself. I am studying engineering because my parents wanted me to. In the long run, I plan to shift careers and do as I wish.”
Shamim, a student of Islamic Studies from Dhaka University on this notion adds, “I will definitely choose a more feasible career for myself. I plan to do an MA and then go for an MBA if I don't do well in the BCS examinations after completing my Bachelors.”
On the contrary, some students have their parents by their side, but fate fails them. “I wanted to study Aeronautical engineering, but universities in Bangladesh do not offer that course,” explains Minat, a student who is currently doing her Bachelors in Business Studies.
“I did not get into Medical school because my grades were low in Biology, in my A levels. So, I decided to study Environmental Studies,” says Amira, a student from North South University.
However, even after choosing a subject which remotely excites a student, handling it might be a little above the belt for some. Fatma elaborates, “After receiving my admission scores, my siblings told me that Peace and Conflict Studies was a good option. It would open a wide range of occupations for me, beginning with foreign services to teaching. But, initially, I had trouble studying the subject. Since, this subject is unique in nature, understanding its style and course design was mind-numbing. I had to go through the lectures a number of times before I could finalise and study.”
Much has been said about public universities, but the scenario completely changes when it comes to private universities. The number of students getting admitted to private universities is three times more than public universities, as they have three entrance exams each year. They are similar to freshers in public universities only in their levels of excitement. Both 'bunches' are thrilled by the thought of undying liberty.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people here. I hope the courses won't be too difficult and I will be able to cope fine. There are no negative sides to this new change apart from the fact that I had to wait a long time to get my advising done. That is the only part which I am not enjoying,” elaborates Nishat, who is recently joining the Economics Department of North South University.
For most students, university experience is a pleasant ride while for others it can be a daunting experience. Students who live abroad and are forced to come to Dhaka for university have a different experience than those who already live here. “I have been here for the past three months. I have been dreading this day for the past few years. I did not like my university or the people. I have always been an introvert. The lifestyle and the culture do not settle well with me. I do not know what I am supposed to do with a degree in Business Studies from a private university. I wanted to study Genetic Engineering, but the public universities do not have any place for students like me. Their qualifying examinations are hard and their rules are rigid,” expresses Sifat with a cry of helplessness.
Be the experience good or bad, it always hits an individual the day they graduate -- the beginning of another season, another hypothetical spring! The realisation comes then, that the happy go lucky nature and the whining was all part of only a short journey and that the real world will soon come and sweep them away to another expedition, another reality.
Different phases of university life.