Dorms: Where floormates become friends and lifelong companions
Uma Bakshi reflects back on the first time she experienced what hostel life was really like at Ashoka University’s residence halls
If there is one thing I was afraid of before joining college, it was my dorm experience. I am an only child and I have had very little experience in sharing things or doing things on my own. Moreover, I had never lived on my own before. The whole situation of living in a room of one’s own scared me to pieces. What if I antagonised everyone on my floor?
I think at this point it is safe to say that I tend to overthink a little, and that was certainly true in this case. One of the things I did not anticipate about Ashoka University and college life, in general, was how busy my first day would be. I spent the entire day meeting new people and finding familiar faces among the swarm of people on campus. By the end of the day, I was so tired that I forgot the initial fears I had and went straight to bed.
However, the fear would find me again the next day. When I woke up in the morning, I went to the pantry to make myself some coffee when a sudden realisation hit me–I was not at home. I was in a completely new environment where my mother wouldn’t be able to make me a better cup of coffee if I failed. I was completely alone. Almost everyone was still sleeping. My thoughts began to spiral. What if I accidentally ruined my entire stock of coffee while making one cup? What if I jinxed the kettle, making it unusable for everyone? What if I set the floor on fire by accident?!
As if they had heard my thoughts, one of my floormates arrived, armed with her own coffee and a mug. The look on her face told me all I needed to know. I wasn’t as alone in my struggles as I thought. As I boiled some water for the both of us using the kettle, another one of our floormates joined us. She politely informed us that one could get hot water straight out of the water dispenser and we didn’t have to go through all the hassle of heating water on the kettle.
As more and more people arrived, conversations slowly turned from the struggles of making coffee to the things everyone forgot to bring from home. Eventually, the small group of us at Pantry B on the third floor of RH4 began to share what we missed about home, along with some funny anecdotes about what we would definitely not miss. Knowing that many of my friends were going through a similar phase made me feel better and more confident for the days to come.
As time went on, I learnt how to settle. Most of my fears were assuaged by my floormates, who had gradually become my friends. My coffee-making skills were improving, and I finally learnt how to use the washing machine. Even though the coffee on the first day tasted bitter and unpalatable, I did not really mind. That very moment when a group of us, sat around the table sharing personal stories over terrible coffee, is something I will always remember fondly. This was what my first-ever dorm experience was– it was a group of us banding together at the unlikeliest of times, but helping each other out regardless.
(Uma Bakshi is a second-year student at Ashoka University)