As DU students, let’s be honest, all of us have thought of whether it is worth the hype, at least once in our three years here. Many DU colleges today are facing a somewhat mid-life crisis with skewed student-teacher ratios, poor infrastructure, etc. Despite this, most of these colleges have sky-high cutoffs, and their gates are flooded with scores of students and parents on the very first day of admissions.
So, why is DU so special? I cannot speak for every college in DU, but I will speak from my experience at an all-girls’ college, and what that meant for me. Rang De Basanti taught us that our experiences at university can unconsciously shape our being. Before taking admission in an undergraduate program, most of us have spent fourteen years in the same school, cohabited with the same people we’ve known all our lives. By the time these fourteen years are over, even though most of our core values have developed, there’s still a lot to learn.
College then becomes a space where we not only have the opportunity to carve out an identity for ourselves but most importantly get out of the echo chamber that trapped us in our schools. The latter supplements the former. Venturing out of this bubble could take various forms. For instance, trying out a new society, making a friend with a diverging political ideology, or even adapting your taste buds to college canteen ka khana (well the last one wouldn’t be too difficult).
An overly talked about, but the heavily under-theorised aspect of DU is its diversity. With students from Dhanbad in Jharkhand to Bandra in Mumbai, Delhi University has often been called a hub for multiculturalism. Why is diversity important though? For most of us, we are interacting with people from different sectors, states, backgrounds, etc., in an immediate sense for the first time in college. I still remember, one of my friends in college belonged to Bihar and would get us these traditional sweets every time she went home. It’s not just about the different cultures you will experience here, but also the diverging political and social opinions. One of my most stark memories from offline college is being immersed in an insightful discussion with someone from Kerala about the laws and policies of the ruling party. Many other such experiences have unconsciously shaped my personality and initiated new kinds of thought processes within me. Some which I could never imagine even scratching the surface of in school.
Having said that, DU will also make one feel uncomfortable at first. The experience of adapting to a new set of norms and people might throw you off guard in the beginning. Things that seemed normal in your hometown, with your old group of friends, seem glaringly out of place here and vice versa. But this initial discomfort and the subsequent learning that follows from it is what made DU what it is for me.
If we walk out of DU as people with open minds who are always willing to learn, listen and change, this outside classroom learning is probably more profound than any of the courses we were ever taught in the class.
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Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives