When college ends and real life begins

Published: May 2, 2012

It is somewhere in the last semester that the cognizance of your university life coming to an end hits you squarely in the face. PHOTO: REUTERS

I know you guys have already read a couple of blogs about graduation; the ones that elaborated in 10 points how, after passing out, the realisation dawns that the world out there is very evil and that college was pure bliss.

While these writings surely had their utility, what they failed to encapsulate was the experience itself; the four years of loathing that magically turn into a bitter sweet feeling as the end approaches.

I still remember an incident from freshman year when I complained to a teacher about the excessive workload and she said, with a smile reminiscent of days gone by,

When you are done with college, you will miss working all night long with your friends.

I laughed sarcastically in response. Now I realise that the joke was on me all along.

What’s ironic though is the fact that through the course of four years, you pretend to hate every bit of  your college life. The news of a cancelled class makes you jump up and down on your seat even though you are fully aware of the horrors of the make-up class that will be scheduled on a Sunday.

The dengue holidays come as pure unadulterated joy and you spend your days off with the guilty pleasure of knowing that while you celebrate your time off with cheap cinema, the rest of the city is in chaos.

Then there is that old fat lascivious professor who just won’t stop hitting on anything that resembles a girl. He would crack tacky jokes at your expense just to impress “his girl” who is, well, only slightly younger than his granddaughter.

On top of it all, there’s that constant and usual subterfuge among your friends that will put Star Plus aunties to shame. I mean Zoya is gossiping with Adil about Hira behind her back, but Hira and Zoya are BFFs (best friends forever) and also Zoya was Adil’s ex-girlfriend and now the current girlfriend of Taimur, who by the way, is Adil’s friend but secretly hates him and also tried to kick him out of the group – yes, that pretty much summarises it.

Making the college experience more fun are the thetas (the Greek mathematical symbol – yeah it really makes you wonder where they got that name from)  in every class, also commonly known as nerds. These people will answer every rhetorical question with the loudest of ‘yes’ and then look towards the teacher with puppy eyes, begging for appreciation. Other students, who rise  from their slumber by the excited cries of the nerds, are left staring at them with a what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you expression.

And it doesn’t end in the classroom either. Every time you go to the instructor to request an extension in the term project submission date, the nerd will already be there. And not to help, mind you, but to stare at you in a nonchalant fashion and declare in an annoyingly innocuous tone that they are already half way through their project.

Oh how you wish at that time that you had learned a trick or two from the seven Saw movies you watched for absolutely no apparent reason (never mind the 3D version – it’s not even worth mentioning).

Despite all of the above mentioned stuff that you apparently disliked, somewhere in the last semester, the cognizance of your university life coming to an end hits you squarely in the face.

Suddenly the annoying friend who made all your quizzes and exams impossible through constant cries of “kuch to kara day yar” (help me with something bro) doesn’t seem that annoying after all.

A couple of free days after the final exams and you even start missing the weekend makeup classes; classes that you went to grudgingly, cursing the instructor’s wife all the time for making life so miserable at home  that he decided to conduct the class on a Sunday.

The reason for this, on a psychological level, has to be the trepidation of growing up and having to face the challenges of the real world coupled with the issues of mortality that translate to quarter life crises in many youngsters. But let’s not make this boring.

On introspection, you discern that the little idiosyncrasies and quirks were what made the whole college experience worthwhile. Oh how you miss the constant complaints, the arguments you had with your class mates, the pranks you pulled on aged professors and the classes you bunked. And of course, who can forget the the ostensible study groups, the impromptu birthday celebrations and the misplaced crushes? All these small things, when put together, make the whole enterprise unforgettable.

The funny thing is that when you look back at college after graduation, you don’t remember the grade you got in some random subject or the trivial fights you had while you were there. The things that stay with you are the  little incidents and bursts of laughter that seemed inconsequential at that time but will surely bring a smile to your wrinkled face some 40 years down the line.

For instance, the incident where the instructor was trembling with anger and you still couldn’t control your laughter, or when you collected money from the juniors on “Daku day”, or when you helped a friend pass through an exam in which he had no hopes.

When you realise that you have to leave this makeshift world and that the friendships that form it are going to be reduced to Facebook likes and Tweets – despite the promises of “staying in touch” on farewell day – it makes you a little despondent.

Orson Welles said:

If you want a happy ending that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Well the story of real life may have just begun, but graduation seems to be a very appropriate point for an integral chapter of life to have a happy ending.

PS:  A heartfelt apology to all the nerds, without whom classrooms all around the world will be exponentially boring. How else would we have our fun then?

Read more by Omer here.

Omer.Kamal

Omer Kamal Bin Farooq

An economics student from Lahore with a keen interest in sports, theology, politics, and, anthropology.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Usama KHan

    The ending is just awesome;

    “A heartfelt apology to all the nerds, without whom classrooms all around the world will be exponentially boring. How else would we have our fun then?”

    surely without the nerds and jack-lifters the whole college life would have been ordinary :)Recommend

  • Hashmi

    College experience culminated into a professional world. But this is now a case of history. We have graduates on the streets unemployed. This was not the case before the advent of this political party to the helm of corridors of power.Recommend

  • Lubna

    Very well written and so trueRecommend

  • reality

    “friendships that form it are going to be reduced to Facebook”
    very true Recommend

  • Mudassir

    Aahhhh.. it made me emotional !! :( .. i miss my Uni days badly !!Recommend

  • Osama Sarwar

    LOL @ “Anything that resembles a girl.”Recommend

  • Anum Ijaz

    V well written article and beautiful expression i would say! keep it up!:)Recommend

  • ZEE

    MISS MY UNI DAYS BADLY…NOW I FELL REGREAT TO BUNK CLASSE OR DOING “TOOLAS”..Recommend

  • Ali Akbar

    Well written Omar! This is the first blog yours’ that i’ve read. And yes I understood which nerds and professors you were mentioning there ;)Recommend

  • Amna

    This is my last semester and you have made me realized what I am gonna miss couple of months later but really I have this already in mind that this time is never gonna come back and I am gonna miss this life ever after :(Recommend

  • Marium

    so so so true! almost teared up thinking back about my university days. Recommend

  • http://- Marium

    so so true! almost teared up thinking about my university days!Recommend

  • http://pakistani-edu.blogspot.com Usman Shahid

    Loved the article, it reminds me of my graduation day, oh ten years have almost gone. Very nice article. Missing all my classfellows, even i don’t remember the names of most of them.Recommend

  • manish

    classes that you went to grudgingly, cursing the instructor’s wife all the time for making life so miserable at home that he decided to conduct the class on a Sunday.

    so true, almost every college student has this complain. Any professor’s wife here?
    listen to this boy here. love your your pot-bellied husbands so that students don’t have to unnecessarily curse you. Recommend

  • Madiha

    Oh so true! very well written. A past which we all had thoroughly enjoyed. I can also recognize the nerdy fellows and the monstrous instructors you are talking about. Oh yes the gossip girls too! Alas! sadness prevails because I missed the Daku Day. Anyway Best of Luck for the future! :)Recommend

  • Naveed727

    Mesmerizing blog!

    Got me thinking of my university days, 2003-2007! :(Recommend

  • Parvez

    I never went through a four years college experience but reading your article gave me a glimpse of what it’s all about. A sound foundation is necessary to build a good house.Recommend

  • http://kfdub worried

    though m still enjoying this life ,but this article made me to realize what i m going to miss in coming years.. ah what fun I’ll be missing..Recommend

  • Hira Z

    Loved it absolutely !Recommend

  • tamoor

    Beautifully summarized the college experience, I didn’t think such an asymmetrical experience could be compressed in such a short article bur you proved me wrong Recommend

  • zaf

    Finally read something briliant on ET,that doesn’t involve any propaganda or complains.Recommend

  • Zoy

    very well written..seriously i face all these emotions n feelings almost everyday..m in the last year of my MBA n i have faced almost every thng which is wriiten in this article..every single n minor thing is true..at tyms i wan my uni to end desperately but then i realize that wat would be my lyf after this..ahwww this really made me emotional…
    and the horrible news which a teacher gives tht he will conduct a class on sunday this has really happened to me yesterday tht our teacher said tht now he.ll take an xtra class on sunday..
    This article is really really commendable..Recommend

  • yasir

    you just took me back to my uni life ahhhhhh i missss my uniii soo much … Professional life is not half as gd as uni life Recommend

  • Silent Observer

    We have been told the big lie by our teachers that learning is a life long process and therefore we will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and so on. Don’t you think that there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without us? They need us to be their repeat customers.

    The good news is that they are wrong.

    The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. This may come as a shock to most of you. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80 or 90 years old but life expectancy is calculated based on average and one never ever wants to expect being average.

    As graduates, one expects to find a job, fall in love, marry and then raise a family. if you expect that you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to the boundaries set be average people. I have nothing against average people but one should not aspire to be them.Recommend

  • Cristabella

    @reality: I read the post and your comment, is it really really true, that college friends really don´t last a life time, Im graduating college in 2 weeks and I don´t know exactly what to expect. Recommend

  • Hira

    Great blog! I can totally relate to it because i just graduated some months back…Recommend

  • shiza

    yes its true college is de best life after this tensions n depression in lifeRecommend