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Coping with student life, far from home

Leaving the comfort zone of family and friendsis a bittersweet experience.

I had just turned 16 when I was bundled out of home to a hostel, in order to ensure a fair chance in the battle awaiting me a year later, the professional course entrance tests. It was a bittersweet experience. Leaving the comfort zone of familiar surroundings, family and friends, was pretty trying, but I was determined to cope.



In a hostel there is no option but to pack all your belongings into a single room. Hence, born enemies such as chocolate biscuits, detergent powder, shampoo and textbooks suddenly find themselves on the same rack and learn to live peacefully as quite accommodating neighbours indeed.



Oh, and the routine meals. It was then that I truly began to appreciate the joy of home-cooked food and my mum’s simple recipes. In the face of sâmbhar and rasam that looked like water into which masalas and vegetables had accidentally fallen into, I remembered with nostalgia my mum’s thick delicious curries that would send beautiful aromas wafting through the air. Sigh….



Doing the laundry was another task that I had to face. I admired the skill with which several others dipped their clothes neatly in a bucket of water, rubbed soap over it and manhandled the stuff till it was sparkling white. I received pitiful glances as I strived to emulate them. The first time I tried to do my own laundry, I forgot to separate the colours from the whites, and my white shawl ended up looking a mild shade of brown.



Your package of food is the thing that has to be guarded above everything else in a hostel. Because once that’s over, you will have no way to beat the hunger pangs that visit you between meals. Oh, and when your parents visit, it is compulsory that they bring dinner for you and all your starving friends. Nothing beats the joy of being given some curry from home when your mess decides to have an “all-veg day”.



In spite of all this, hostel life is fun. How, I hear you ask. Well, because the way you endure bad food is by cribbing about it among friends, you cope with a burst of homesickness by chilling with your roomies, sharing chocolate, and you get to celebrate birthdays with midnight parties. Sleepovers in other rooms, gossiping till the clock strikes three on those nights when sleep just refuses to come, banging on bathroom doors when your roommate takes an extra minute in there, sharing food, clothes, jewellery, make-up...



Leaving home every time I need to return to the hostel is pretty heart-breaking, but now the thought of giving up all these joys brings a heaviness to my heart too. Because, hostel life, despite all its hardships, is fun.



lekshmymaya@gmail.com



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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:17:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/coping-with-student-life-far-from-home/article8433758.ece

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