After the completion of a Bachelor’s degree, what does a student normally tends to do?
Most students usually focus on selecting the right university for the completion of their Master’s degree and in order to achieve that, they begin to prepare themselves for the entrance examinations, or else they just jump into some jobs and hopes more to settle in the future.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic scenario did change the lives of the students forever, that too in a very literal sense. Most of the students in Tezpur and almost the majority in Assam, consider Tezpur University, as their dream institute. I and my 2020 batch mates did too. Alas! With the havoc that the pandemic brought, everything became very chaotic. Entrances were cancelled, personal interviews were taken, but virtually; classes in the beautiful campus turned out to be the ones in our own bedrooms; using the digital lab equipment turned out to be mere dreams and we got stuck with mobile applications for the change. However, we knew that there was nothing that could’ve been done to resolve the issue.
Eventually, our dream classes in Tezpur University’s Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ) Department started, but “ONLINE”!
Although, interactions that took place were entirely virtual. Yet, our professors managed to make us feel comfortable, boosted our morals, and motivated us for staying strong to face the coming situations.
Throughout the process, we all did adjust with time.
Our professors would take online classes, provide us with notes and assignments, and conduct our exams through the online mode. Without even realizing it, WhatsApp, Google Classroom, and Google Meet became our degree saviours. These applications, installed in our smartphones/PCs/Laptops, now hold our entire Master’s degree life within them.
Growing up, I had always heard that the world will become super digital one day and now, we are getting to experience these words in every single second of our lives.
I will not be lying and will agree with the fact that there are both negative and positive aspects to this experience.
Negative in the sense that, it is undoubtedly super frustrating when we think how after getting admissions in our dream university, we are unable to live a “Tezpur University” student’s life, we are unable to enjoy the life in the hostel rooms or attend the amazing classes that await our presence. We are not able to listen to our professors’ lecturers in person or answer their questions in person. We are unable to hold the hands of our friends and walk on the streets of the campus or gossip while eating food in the campus canteens. In direct words, we know how much we are missing out on and that particular realization has been eating us up, since the very first day of our virtual classes.
Now, coming to the positive aspects or should I rather say the meaningful learnings and outcomes, that we have gained and witnessed during our virtual Masters’ journey, includes self-learning and self-development to a humongous extent. Earlier, most of us were completely dependent on our academic studies and on the basic theories that were a part of it. But after entering into the world of Master’s degree in MCJ Dept., that too a virtual one, we have learned a lot. People like myself, who would earlier waste time on watching silly YouTube content, now utilize the same platform to explore and learn a variety of new things, every single day. From learning to use online applications to making digital portfolios, we have grown a lot.
This is not just a personal view, but a student from my batch too feels the same. Rashmi Debi (3rd Semester Student of MCJ Dept.) while sharing her view on learning things virtually said, “Earlier I used to have technophobia, for which I was never keen towards using any kind of software, online apps, and tools. But due to the virtual classes, I was forced to learn using them, and now, I have the knowledge and experience of using several apps, for which I am super proud of myself that I overcame my fear.”
Once we realized that being able to sit in the comfort of our homes and to complete our studies, was not that bad, we began to accept the reality and started giving our 100 per cent effort in everything that we did, and throughout this meaningful journey, we have been receiving the constant guidance and support of our professors, which has helped us in a great way to gain trust and confidence in ourselves.
But being a student of a professional course which has turned out more digital, all thanks to the coronavirus; we also have realised that we lack in practical experiences cause we haven’t yet touched the cameras, could not go out on field visits for radio programs or documentary making. This makes my heart heavy as these were few things that attracted many of our classmates including me. Priyangkhi Kalita, another batchmate of mine shares the same view. She says, “When I got to know that we had to apply for internships, at first I was very nervous as to how without any prior experience I will be able to engage in an internship and manage my classes too. But once, I started doing both, I realized that due to the online mode, I was able to manage the two in a very smooth manner. Since then I have been fully enjoying my internship with team Anajoree.”
The other positive elements in our current Masters’ lives are our friends and professors. At the very initial stage, it was getting very hard for most of the students to adjust to the new virtual environment and to mix up with the students. Only by interacting through the camera during classes and by connecting with each other’s via Google Meet icons on the screen was not enough to build the bonds of friendship. So gradually, we all began to interact, aside from our scheduled classes, and started knowing each other better. Amidst doing certain group assignments or while discussing some issues regarding any subject, without even realizing we ended up making some really good friends in the process, and without such bonds, it would’ve been a burden for us to survive the hectic semesters that passed.
With such pressures in studies, mental health is knowingly or unknowingly gets neglected by people. But our professors are the ones who were really worried about our mental state and about us being uncomfortable in the initial classes because they knew that everything was new to us and the online scenario too was adding more pressure. However, they were very patient, helpful, and friendly with us and made sure that we felt at ease. They even interacted with us through informal online sessions, where the students and professors discussed the issues that we as students have been facing in the dept., they tried to know and understand our issues in a better way and that made us all feel positive and motivated.
Meanwhile, the only thing left for the students to worry about is “When are we going to live the campus life of a Tezpur University student?”
To conclude, the best part of the entire virtual process is that, if somehow everything gets better and we are called to the campus, the level of excitement and eagerness that every student will be feeling is something unimaginable. The students will be cherishing even the tiniest bit of every moment in the campus – like sipping tea with friends in the canteens, watching movies late at night in the hostel rooms, sitting within the four walls of the classroom smiling at our friends, and receiving smiles back from them, watching the faces of our lovely professors and listening to their lectures in person. All these little moments and many more will be worth cherishing for the rest of our lives. Thus, the pandemic, in a way has given us something good to aim for and newer dreams to conquer.