Less than a year ago, I stepped into Ahmedabad University for the first time. It was a mixed bag of feelings for me as a student, but I remember the one that stood out the most - fear. As an introvert, I never really had many friends. I was worried that I would make zero friends at the University, sit alone through classes, and during lunch, be that one weird girl no one liked.
All my fears were allayed when, on the first day of our Orientation, I was introduced to two Student Mitrs or friends (both third-year students) and 14 other incoming students as part of the Circle of Care initiative. This served as a great icebreaker. I was no longer alone. Here was my coterie of friends I could rely on. Most were as clueless as I was, but we had two strong guides to buddy up with. While I am not in regular touch with everyone, a few of my closest friends belong to that initial Circle of Care. They still play a huge role in my university life. Thanks to them, I am not that one weird girl no one likes, and more importantly, I do not feel like one either.
For the first two months at the University, we had the Foundation Programme, something I had only heard of but needed to understand how it would play out. The Foundation Programme lays the foundation for interdisciplinary learning and engages with critical societal issues through Studios. The four Studios I experienced were Water, Neighbourhoods, Environment and Climate Change, and Democracy and Justice. Nothing like what I had imagined to study in a University, this was an incredibly enriching experience. As a Computer Science student, I expected to learn about something other than a neighbourhood’s economy or the chemistry of water. But I did! The projects are innovative and compel us to think and reason. I especially enjoyed the Democracy and Justice studio; it impacted me the most and changed my perspective at various levels. We were shown a film titled 'The Great Indian Kitchen,' which brought out the exploitation inherent to a patriarchal system. The film touched my heart, and moments from the movie still echo in my head.
One of the most exciting things at our University is the flexibility in the curriculum and the emphasis on interdisciplinarity. Despite being a Computer Science major, I was allowed to pursue courses in other disciplines. In my second semester, I took a Social and Political Science course - Politics in Independent India - influenced by the concepts I had picked up in the Democracy and Justice studio. It has been one of my best educational experiences at the University thus far.
I was delighted to see faculty teaching the subject by bringing in research and a worldview. Besides, every conversation I have had with faculty outside of the classroom has benefitted me appreciably. When I recently met with Professor Raghavan Rangarajan, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, to discuss an academic matter, a two-minute encounter led to an impactful and wide-ranging conversation around my university experience and my career plans. He offered very grounded advice on what my focus areas should be.
While each of us understands exactly how rigorous learning at Ahmedabad University is, we also know that it provides numerous avenues to build skills outside the classroom. The University has 19 Student Clubs, and every year, the Clubs enlist the first years through the Club Carnival. The Quiz Club caught my attention and I have made some of my best memories with Les Quizerables, as we call ourselves.
My first year has been a rollercoaster with its highs and its lows but it’s a decision I am mighty proud of. My experiences at the University have helped me blossom into a courageous ambivert. I look forward to spending the next three years here, making more memories with people I know and those I don't know yet.