Freshman at St Stephen’s

Anyone and everyone who is even minutely aware of India’s higher education scene knows that St Stephen’s College is one of the country’s foremost institutions. This is why, after my name came up on the admission list to the college, I was overjoyed. Perhaps there is no word to describe the mix of emotions, the highs and the lows experienced as I anxiously waited for the result. We all had to first meet the requisite cut off percentages and then after, we had to pass an aptitude test along with an interview. It was all nerve-racking as I waited first for the cut offs, then the interview list and then finally, the actual interview and test.

Despite my nervousness and anxiety, I thank God for somewhere along the line as I did both test and interview, I was able to hold my virtue, stay true to myself and somehow get through it all. Prayers and more prayers were my only hope. And when I did it, it was wonderful. I had been dreaming and wanting to get into St Stephen’s for two years and in fact, last year I had come to the college just to see it and know it for myself.

But then of course, one can visit the college all they want. But not everyone actually makes it through the hectic admissions. I am thankful for my opportunity to study here. But I also know that it isn’t me who’s special enough to make it here. I was given this opportunity. Now, I have to make the best of it.

I had been meaning to write of my experience as a new Stephanian for a couple of days. But it’s rather intimidating because I am acutely aware of the legacy of this premier institution that I am now a part of. If one were to google “St Stephen’s Notable Alumni”, they’d come upon the likes of Amitav Ghosh, Khuswant Singh, Barkha Dutt and Shashi Tharoor (to name just a meagre few).

No wonder it is hard for me as an eighteen year old “nobody” to start on a blank page. But then, just three days in and I already know this is an experience I want to write about. Perhaps it is because I think that this institution and most importantly, the people here can and will change me in a way. I do not feel that I will leave this college three years from now as the same person who first entered it three days ago.

On my first day here, I listened as my professor told us that the only thing that is relevant in history is change. It blew my mind. Though I had always known that history is a subject of understanding change, it never occurred to me that everything else could be deemed irrelevant. Questions become more important than the answers themselves.

Another thing that left me completely awestruck was that my professor said that his aim was to create good rebels out of us. No other teacher of mine has ever encouraged rebellion. But then, I also understand the context in which my professor was talking. He wanted us to question, criticise, seek out answers and grow as learners. These are the kinds of rebels he wants to make out of us.

When we introduced ourselves in class, I discovered that every person who stood up was intelligent, remarkable and talented. Every one of us were achievers in some area or the other. Every single person had something about them that made them exceptional. But now at St Stephen’s College, all of us are brought to a level playing field and here, we will determine our game. We will determine our future. Here, we start our journey. Here, we find our path to daybreak.

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