Turning the page on my school life was far from easy. I was never one among those who were eager to get out of their homes and get their first taste of the “real world”. In fact my mother was as eager to send me away as I was reluctant to leave home! Added to that, I was overwhelmed by a constant fear that I would be considered a “dumb NRI” when I get to college.

A few months later, with my bags packed with as many home-made goodies as it would hold, I arrived at the vast campus of IIM Indore. When we gathered for the orientation on the first day, my fear didn’t fail to make its appearance as I scanned the 120 other faces in the auditorium – faces that I would be seeing for the next five years. Some of them exhibited confidence and looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. Much to my comfort, there were quite a few faces that were a reflection of mine – apprehensive yet curious about what was to come.

If I am honest with you, the first two weeks were quite rough – I was desperately homesick, I was also literally sick (my stomach hadn’t quite adjusted to mess food yet) and I was terrified of how I would perform. Once I got through those initial weeks however, things didn’t look that bleak. I was surrounded by people from across the country – people who spoke different languages, celebrated different festivals and held a different opinion on a variety of matters.

And I happily realized how wrong I was to believe that my peers would be people who’d sit with their noses in a book all day. No, they were sportsmen, musicians, writers, artists, dancers, foodies and gamers in their own right!

(A cultural celebration night )

I was eager to immerse myself in the diversity before me. Never having had much of an opportunity to play sports in school, I spent most of my free time at the basketball court and even made visits to the Olympic-sized swimming pool. I’d spent the last 10 years in a foreign land and I missed out on celebrating many festivals. But on campus, every regional festival was celebrated with grandeur and fervour by the students. The Activity Club makes sure to organize elaborate feasts for each festival. And because they know that waiting in line for your food is a pain, they put up splendid dances and organize games to take your mind off your grumbling stomach!

As a Keralite who had been deprived of the opportunity of making a pookalam for many years, I was more than happy to join in on making a huge one in my very first term.

During the course of my first year, I sinfully feasted on sweet, juicy mal puas, learned how to eat dal-bhaati-churma and ogled on as talented dancers showed off their regional pride. Eating out at Chappan with my friends was always a treat to look forward to.

We savored soft momos (with extra red chutney, for me) and fought over whether it was gol-gappa or pani-puri.

Classes were rigorous – there’s no denying that. However, the activities organized by the Student Activity Council (SAC) ensured that everyone had the opportunity to let off some steam and learn something new – be it dancing, debating, photography or creative marketing. If you are an IPM aspirant, I know that you may have countless doubts running through your head. After all, the transition from school to college is not an easy one. From my experience, I can tell you this – everyone finds a place here. It’s impossible not to! There are so many different kind of people on campus that you’re bound to connect with someone. When you first reach campus, you’ll find comfort in the small (or large, in some cases) regional groups that form and grow across the batches. When you miss home, spend time in your regional group; discuss the movies you grew up watching and let the power of language wash over

you and dissipate your troubles! But remember to step out of your comfort zone and make as many friends as you can – even with people who are completely unlike you. They say that the best kind of learning is the learning that happens outside of a classroom. Now, while I’m not going to comment on my classroom learning, I guarantee you this – I have learned exponentially from the different people I interact with on campus and I hope you do too!