With the advent of an unprecedented global crisis, students around the country found their freedom and life jeopardized in more ways than one. The article provides a glimpse into the lives of college students who were bereft of a place they could call home.
College life is a transitional, vibrant experience, more often than not painted with the hues of excitement, change, and growth. It is also highly liberating, allowing us to finally make (daunting) decisions for ourselves. And as for most youth that is ready to move to university, a big part of this autonomy is having a new place that they can call home, perhaps a dorm, a room, or a hostel, even if it’s for a short time.
While it may seem like just a means of accommodation at the forefront, this ‘home’ carries within itself a larger magnitude of impact. For many students, it provides an escape from a house that they could never call their own. Moving to a new city or place has always been more than a matter of feasibility: it meant shelter from a host of problems, right from abusive patterns of upbringing to the shrouding of one’s identity to survive.
Cut to the 2020s, and it feels like the pandemic has sought to threaten our survival in more ways than one. Students found themselves stuck in childhood homes with no hope of leaving in the near future. For them, the prospect of college meant freedom as much as it did an education. Of course, it affected some more gravely than others. Women students had to bear the brunt of pursuing higher education from the four walls of their homes. This meant surviving yet again in the cycle of patriarchal norms that they wished to escape – right from abhorrent curfews to monitoring interactions, dressing styles, and taking decisions. Even worse, given the prevailing attitudes about domestic chores, most female students found their studies ill-effected by the constant interruption of performing errands and ‘duties’.
For students belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, the situation was even more dreadful. College is just not a physical institution, but for many aspirants, also a safe space where they can breathe in their skin a little better. However, as the global crisis swept us off our toes, queer students found themselves stuck in places and hometowns that were reminders of alienation and bullying since forever. One can only fathom the suffocation of being unable to freely express yourself and the mental toll that it may have taken on these students. With video calls monitored and ideas of expression curbed, students all around India have been losing more than just a campus education in the pandemic.
Home is more than a residence where you live. It is a safe haven, a space where you are happy, respected, and cared for. But above all, it is a place where you can be yourself in all your lovely, unique, and vibrant ways. As universities around the country are steering towards opening campuses, one hopes that students and staff alike can shift to their own ‘casa’, and break away from houses and relationships that are detrimental to their well- being. For there is hope and healing in finally finding yourself belong.
Featured Image Credits: Empty Easel
*This article was originally published in our e-newspaper Volume 15 | Issue 4. Click here to read the entire newspaper!