I had taken up biology in the 11th standard because I was scared of mathematics. Also, becoming a doctor sounded kinda cool. But during those two years, I became more self-aware. I did not know what I wanted to be, but I sure became aware that I did not want to be a doctor. I felt decisive in wanting to become a Doctor as well as in not wanting to be a doctor anymore.
My parents are pretty chill, so they only fully supported me at all times. I started looking for alternative options. When plans get disrupted, it does have many consequences... one of which is you get impatient given the lack of time available to you to figure out the best option. I felt lost. It felt like I would not be able to get a college & degree program of my choice.
A turn of events
After a lot of googling, I came across this course that intrigued me. VIT Vellore had added a new course to its curriculum. It was "computer science with a specialization in bioinformatics." The best thing was they were allowing both Maths and Biology students to take admission to this course. VIT is a great brand. This course seemed to fit my interests. Life does throw some pleasant surprises.
So yours truly, a medical aspirant back in time, attempted the VIT entrance exam (VITEEE). The only difference was I attempted biology instead of mathematics. I scored well, and the college dream didn't seem so far now. Wasn't feeling lost anymore... It seemed like I was wandering to an anchor... With that feel good attitude, I decided to give the medical entrance too... just because I had filled the form and got the admit card.
The college life and campus
VIT (image courtesy: www.vit.ac.in) is astonishing to a new entrant... stepping in for the first time crossing over the school phase. Thinking you get to stay in that amazing campus is no less than a dream come true. I was busy making friends, exploring the campus, and watching movies with my roommates until classes started. It is lighter to begin.. the first few days!
Then the hard part of my college life began. I remember sitting in the class of calculus, watching other kids solve integration, and not knowing what that even means. I realized I would have to work harder than the others who had already studied mathematics and most were quite good at it!
I took biology because I was intimidated by Maths, and here I was, staring at the curriculum, which involved calculus, applications of differential equations, and linear algebra. Yes, I came to terms with the reality - mathematics is ever more important - be it any field that has to do with computer science, information/statistics or data.
Every semester, I had at least one mathematics subject that would give me nightmares. My basics were weak, and my friends had a hard time helping me pass the subjects. Of course, this did not come free... it involved very hard bargaining. They would only settle for promise of night canteen treats later... I began to enjoy the real life importance of the concept of mutual-value, "I do well with your help, you get the night canteen treat!". With a lot of help and pulling all nighters, I would manage to get through these subjects.
Excelled at my skills
Public speaking was my thing, so I got into toastmasters. I learned how to articulate my thoughts better, met extraordinary mentors, and, most importantly, had something to speak about in my interviews to cover up for my less-than-the-best technical skills. Struggling to wake up on-time for breakfast, having to eat fast-food most of the time, and waiting for time to do absolutely nothing... have all also been part of my engineering days. I am being honest!
In my 7th semester, I had linear algebra. I was busy with placements and rarely attended classes. I scored a 7 / 50 in my mid-terms and 1/10 in my quiz. The final exams were ten days later when I realized I need 60/100 marks to pass the subject.
If not, I would not be able to go for my internship and lose my prospective job. How can a student who scored 7/50 get a 60 in just ten days? I studied during my entire Diwali vacation to get through the last semester of college. I had never studied that much during the entire three years in college. My parents were pleasantly surprised... of course they would be, I wasn't surprised that they were surprised... Heck! I was surprised myself. I got 67 and couldn't resist screaming at the top of my lungs...for the world to hear me and my happiness knew no bounds. I was delighted to know I will never have to study Maths again. This is honestly the first thought that crossed my mind. And slowly, as I was back to treating life as usual, I had this conflicting thought linger on: Did i really have it in me to do well in Mathematics? Did I stand a chance, ever? Those were naggingly conflicting thoughts... but since the outcome was as desired, I had no complaints.
The college and lifestyle
VIT provides ample opportunities to people who want to learn. Seminars, hackathons, projects, there is so much happening if someone's interested. I have seen people make use of VIT as a platform and do so well in their fields. I was among the lazy ones who just study two days before the finals and forget everything the minute they leave the examination hall. No regrets, though.
"VIT won't let you go home unless you have a job"
We are quite awesome, though. When I was tensed about placements, a senior told me, "VIT won't let you go home unless you have a job." I later realized that it's true. VIT does have jobs for everyone. If I can get placed, trust me, everyone can. As much I wanted a job, at this point, there is nothing I wouldn't give to go back to VIT. There is nothing like being a student.
People say VIT is strict and that there are no places to party, but you do have people with whom you can crib about the college while having masala cheese Maggi at night. We can party as much as we want to now but can't sleep in our hostel beds or watch Game of Thrones screaming our hearts out. A college student life, my friends, is a party in itself.