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– Viraj Jangam
Initially it felt just like another quest to prove that you are the best among the best but soon it became a thrilling roller coaster ride where days flew past like wind and time was of the utmost importance. The means were much more important than the ends. Finally the blood and sweat of my mentors, teachers and myself repaid with sweet fruits. I got selected into Department of Physics at IIT Kharagpur campus.
Stepping into IIT Kharagpur or IIT-KGP, I realized that nothing in my life would now be of the same scale as before. Everything was larger than life, be it the enormous 2200 acre campus , the great competitive spirit among students , or the diverse array of courses taught in the Institute ranging from engineering to pure sciences to law to management to social services to recently budding medical courses. Apart from academics the culture and history of IIT-KGP is like none other. Upon realizing that the Institute premises were once a Detention Camp where freedom fighters were held captive, I understood that the freedom we enjoy in the campus is nothing short of a responsibility. The line that one sees as one enters the main academic building “Dedicated to the service of the Nation” perfectly symbolizes the mission of IIT-KGP.
The first year at IIT-KGP was nothing short of an adventure. Staying 1800 kilometers away from home all alone with the new atmosphere is intimidating. It took me a while to get used to. The random invasion of privacy by random seniors from random societies and clubs at 00:00 am in the morning to provide information or rather ‘Fundae’ would irritate me. But later I came to realize how crucial it was to have an extra-academic side to one’s personality and the importance of those fundae in making the most of my time in the Institute.
Academic progress of students is given the utmost importance. In the first year we are taught almost every basic subject from all the departments. Also students are allowed to take up additional courses which are of their interest and not taught by their respective departments. Students are encouraged to undertake projects supervised by their professors. Some are even sent to foreign training to gain international exposure. Like everything in IIT-KGP , the academic syllabus too is dramatically huge. The academic competition is intense and would always keep you on your toes.
Every day was a new adventure with all sorts of workshops, seminars, guest lectures and even marathons going on every other day. Treasure Hunt was the most memorable event which I enjoyed in my first year and helped organize in my second year. The almost infinite amount of options presented before me used to confuse me sometimes. But with proper guidance by mentors I was able to choose what was best for me. Working as a part of a startup by my own fellow seniors was a unique experience. Both the institute fests ‘Kshitij’ and ‘Spring Fest’ set the bar to an epic level. I volunteered in both of the fests which was an overwhelming experience. 8 days without proper sleep and constant adrenaline rush were worth all the effort. With all the newly found and loved chaos the first year finally came to an end.
As I thought that I had finally seen it all, the second year awaited me with even greater surprises and experiences. The most dreaded OP sessions were in themselves a blessing in disguise. The unity that they created among us batch mates was beyond measure. I learnt hard things the hard way and that has now inculcated a lot of confidence in me. All the seniors I’ve met till now have been too helpful. Judging my potential, they encouraged me to join the Weightlifting team and now I aim to be the best at it and go to the Inter IIT Sports Meet.
One of the best experiences that I had in the institute is that of ‘Illumination’ or rather as we call it with love-‘Illu’. It is the special way we Kgpians celebrate Diwali. Around 20,000 diyas , more than 500 students from a Hall and the desire to make it happen. For more than a month we toiled to create something so beautiful that only witnessing it would make one understand its essence. Illumination teaches us that any beautiful creation doesn’t last forever and yet the satisfaction and joy stays with you forever.
So much more is there to share yet so much more is yet to come. As I look back today on those two years, I realize that I am getting a lot more than I put in. Looking forward to my next semester in the institute.
As a parting advice I would like to repeat the words one of my professors told me ”There are two types of students – those who are proud to be in the institute and those whom the institute is proud to have! Choose who you want to be !”