When college ends and real life begins

Published: May 2, 2012
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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.