Coming from a small town, Mumbai was a dream city for Ankita. Getting admission in IIT Bombay meant that she was going to live in her dream city for the next 4 years. But life in campus was not at all what she had initially expected. She soon started feeling like she did not fit in. Her beliefs did not match with her friends on many topics. Her values were different from that of her wing-mates. She did not feel comfortable with certain things, which was again, very common among her classmates.Initiation
Coming to a city like Mumbai and living on campus can feel like a big cultural change for some of us. Fitting in can also feel like a greater challenge if communication patterns, values, language etc. were very different in our hometown. It’s very natural to feel fascinated but also shocked, confused, irritated and even exhausted during the beginning. After all, there are a lot of new aspects to take in.
Remember, it’s okay to take some time to get used to things; after all you are doing your best.
Things may be different on campus and in Mumbai compared to what they were back at home. It's natural to like some of these changes while dislike others. Try treating this as a new adventure. Be curious about what’s around you and what you can learn from these changes. Take this an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone by observing where you can grow as a person.
You’re surrounded by different people with very different ideas. It helps to remember that we all have grown up with varied versions of the ‘right’ way/thing.
Also, you’ll meet people from different backgrounds and expressing themselves in varied ways. While these changes can be surprising, it's essential to be respectful and let people be. After all, they are also struggling to fit in. You are not alone.
Just like we wouldn’t want to be judged or discriminated against, we must extend this respect to others too. Each one of us contributes to the other’s growth.
While it is imperative that you’re respectful of others, it's important to be clear about your own values and boundaries too. You don’t have to engage in anything that you’re not comfortable with.
This experience will naturally bring up different emotions for you. It can help to journal about your experiences. Write about your daily experiences, what you’re thinking and feeling, what you like and dislike. If journaling is not something you like, engage in any activity (eg: anything creative) that helps you find meaning in what’s going on. Make sure to keep some time aside for it regularly.
Consciously take care of yourself. Spend time doing things that help you feel refreshed and recharged.More
One way to do this could also be joining different groups and communities on campus. Being with other people, having fun interactions, going out and exploring can all help.
There will be others on campus who are experiencing something similar. Talking to people who understand our experiences can be hugely beneficial. Don’t hesitate in reaching out to your peers! Try and be connected with things, people, places, and spaces that are comforting and familiar.
We often grow up listening to various unhelpful stories and ideas. We are made to believe that being from a bigger city, being able to speak English or that dressing up a certain way makes some people better than others. If you’re feeling out of place or like you don’t belong because of such ideas, please remember that these may not be true. This is your space too and you deserve to be here as much as any other student.
Remember that this wasn’t a hurdle you faced because of where you hailed from. Be sensitive to the vastly different experiences of others.
Offer support to those who might be feeling left out. Ask how you can be of help and follow through with your offers.
Do not endorse discriminatory acts / do not perpetuate biases / stereotypes even if it is for ‘humour’. Step in when you see that someone is not being treated right. Being a silent spectator is almost like being party to what is happening.