Incidents that shaped my life in insti: A Journey Review by Sheetal Jain
If you ask me about my journey through IIT-B, it has been marked with a mix of almost every feeling I have ever experienced
I am Sheetal Jain, a graduate of Engineering Physics, of the 2018 passing out batch. If you ask me about my journey through IIT-B, it has been marked with a mix of almost every feeling I have ever experienced. So when asked to give advice, I simply state the incidents that shaped my life in ‘insti’, and what I learned from them:
- Appearances are very deceptive – IIT-B is the best place to learn the true meaning of the adage, “All that glitters is not gold.” This is clear right from the beginning when the hype IIT-B commands outside die out once in insti. But this should be kept in mind throughout since there are similar traps laid in insti, where one must keep one’s guard up for deceptive propaganda. DO not attempt to do courses or take part in events simply based on their names, grading statistics and apparent utility! Courses revolve around the Prof. (solely) and that should be one’s main (and only) concern. Similarly, co-curricular activities should be based solely on pure interest, and no other ulterior motives. If you take something up, remember it is a responsibility/burden as much as your power.
- Make the best use of the closed campus – IIT-B offers you much more than just internet, so rather than becoming a couch potato in front of your laptop, explore all it has to offer. The huge crowd of people here offers you the unique opportunity to pick up a lot of soft skills, some of which are essential later in life. I learned how to speak to and deal with people of different viewpoints by talking to as many fellow freshies as I could in my first year. Not only did it give me contact to almost every batchie of mine, but it also honed my conversation making skills, something which came of great use to me in my academic internships (not that obvious on the onset!). So meet as many people as you can, learn to tolerate opposing ideas, move around the scenic walks in campus. I happened to see the first fireflies (and leopard) of my life in campus, just while walking around the hillside (and MEMS dept., by mistake) in my first year!
- Be ready to work hard and get busy – Many get this feeling at many points in life that we have done enough and now we should lay back a bit. Such complacency may wreak havoc in your insti life, so be careful! Remember, to be ‘machau’, one needs to be busy as well, and yet take time out for everything, all while getting our priorities right. My personal mantra for a long time was that as long as not everyone is calling you ‘machau’, you are in fact doing something right in life. Similarly, anything that won’t matter five years down the line must not be one’s priority. So don’t shy away from putting in efforts right now, and postponing rest to the future, for only today’s efforts produce results. I took put a half-century of credits in the 4 semesters of my second and third year, which drained me like anything, but the effort allowed me to relax in my fourth year.
- Addictions are bad in ANY form – From the very first day itself, it is observed that people fall prey to all sorts of addictions, some illegal, some lethal and some commonplace. Whether it is controlled substances, liquor, unhygienic habits or entertainment media, any form of addiction is injurious to you and your well-being. Being first-time independent, you might get tempted to try stuff, but once is forever in such matters. Many students here have wasted their life on trivial things like online gaming and gambling, so be very careful, and avoid such stuff strictly. You may feel you can control yourself, but it has been tried by many, and every single such prey of addiction will tell you the futility of such attempts.
- Patience is central – You must wait long enough to gain anything. In most cases, after the wait, the gain, in fact, loses its worth! So, whenever something eludes you, be patient and keep doing the right things (rather than trying to get things right). I wanted to be a TA in my 2nd year itself but was rejected (due to reasons unknown to me till date). I ended up being an SSS Help-session TA, which was itself a rewarding experience, something I continued right till the end of my insti life. And once I did become TA (head TA in fact) in my fourth year, it was both worth the wait, and not worth the regret.
I wanted to bag foreign internships right after my first year, but could not. So I did everything that was available to me (ITSP, TIFR internship) and finally ended up going outside thrice (Australia, Japan, US), that too all via last moment acceptances, simply because I stuck long enough. It took me 3 years to win Tech Treasure hunt, failing badly once in the process, but I did win it in the end, because I kept trying positively. SO don’t be like most and give up easily, keep trying to move ahead righteously, however slow.
- Have values and principles – Perhaps the most underestimated thing in insti is this very fact, but keep in mind, have a set of personal values and principles which you are uncompromising about. Not only does in give you direction in life and increase your worth and respect in other’s eyes but also sets you apart from the rest. I woke up at 5 am for most of my insti life, ran for a couple of hours, slept at midnight, and yet managed acads and social life pretty well. I followed my religion strictly, despite most around me loosening up. I didn’t miss a single lecture (in 3 years), despite being without company most of the times. Waking up made me realise the efforts of those who make the place run, and how we owe them a debt we must repay by studying hard.
- Judged not by the books you read, but by the friends you keep – Find people whose frequency matches yours and value them greatly. Do not ever be alone in insti, and ensure you keep company of those you consider great. It might take time, but if you keep this goal in your focus, it pays greatly later. No matter how knowledgeable or smart you are or become, in the end your company plays a huge role in your plce in the world. I could not make it through with a single group through my formative years in insti, but I kept looking out for people whom I liked spending time with, and now those friends are people whom I feel an honor to be associated with, simply because of who they are as humans. So do not run behind just famous or similar people, look out for those who you know will be willing to stand by your side even if it means to be against everyone else.
- STOP following the HERD – I have spent almost all my time in IIT-B trying to stop this ruining feature of people, doing stupid things simply because everyone else apparently does it. Be yourself (and unique), it is the only thing where no one else should be able to beat you. Sleep and study when you feel it is right, walk on the path which you feel is correct, choose things to do which you feel are fun. Do not be utilitarian, and do things only because they might be useful later (just like the IIT tag 😛 ). Seniors advise you so that you don’t make the mistakes we do but make your own unique mistakes, be proud of them and learn from them. That is the only worth you can get out of the time here, by trying as much as you can be and identify yourself. Whenever describing yourself (resumes, SoPs), don’t try to make one to impress, try to express. You are going to see it 100 times more than others, so at least you should be proud of every aspect of it! Don’t be like most, it is the only way you will be better than most!
Everyone puts in a great deal of effort to get you in and through IIT-B. The years you study here makes you great in what you study. The country needs you (whether you believe it or not) to help develop that field via your expertise. So don’t bend your interest, but try and find some common ground between what you learn and what you like, and make a serious impact in that direction, not just because you can, but because in most cases, ONLY you can. Also, mind you, passion and profession are two contrasting aspects of one’s life and mixing them begets turmoil and disaster. Interests change ALWAYS, so find something to do in life, which you will manage even if you have no interest and yet have to for earning a livelihood.
Do something worthwhile every day, so that you sleep peacefully at night. Groom yourself to be a great IIT-ian that in fact does great stuff, using both technical dexterity & sharp intellect. Maintain the mindset you have when you enter IIT-B, feeling you will change the world, and preserve it, for trust you me, one day you will get a chance to do so, if YOU WILL.
“The goal is not to live forever, but to create something that does!”