Freedom and responsibility

Freedom and responsibility

During morning peak hours, a local that starts from Thane is usually full of people even before it reaches Thane, because people get in at Mulund and Bhandup and travel backwards. Now this is nothing new for daily commuters. But on Monday, this regular phenomenon caused a bit of confusion among a couple of fresh-out-of-school College kids. These kids had assumed that they will easily get a place to sit in a local that starts from Thane. But when the train arrived and they boarded, the poor kids were disappointed and perplexed, wondering aloud why the train was crowded. What the girls probably didn’t realise was that this was just a precursor to what lay in store for them out there in the real world.

The kids were in class XI in the reputed St Xavier’s College in South Mumbai and had passed out from Holy Cross Convent High School, an all-girls school in Thane. From their conversations, it appeared that they had lived and studied all their lives in Thane. The freshers were curious about college life and speculating about the unwritten protocols of the college life – the speculations pertained to everything from class attendance, professors and assignments to dressing styles, dealing with the opposite gender, college festivals and other co-curricular activities. I could emphathise with these girls because many years ago, passing out of St John the Baptist High School, I went to Jai Hind College. And just like me, these girls from Thane were undoubtedly entering a whole new world – a world that they are totally unfamiliar with, a world full of surprises, some pleasant and some not.

Each year, as the new academic year begins, the students who are most eager, apprehensive, and excited are the ones who are going to college for the first time. These girls were not any different. The change is more exotic and sweeping for students who have lived and studied only in small, self-sufficient city like Thane and suddenly find themselves in an alien environment of a south Mumbai college. The change is even more extreme if students have been never been to a co-ed school back home.
In spite of these major changes, most students look forward to college life. After being in the protected and restricted school environment, you want to enjoy freedom that college life offers. Finally, you can do away with your boring uniforms and wear what you like. You can enjoy the loose schedule and the freedom to decide which lectures to attend and which to skip. You get choose your electives and thereby decide which way you want to go with your education. In short, college is the most exciting time in your life – a time of freedom, a time of choices. But it’s is important to understand that with freedom comes great responsibility. That’s the important thing about college. It prepares you for the real world, where you take responsibilities for your own actions. Nobody’s going to be looking over your shoulder. You are finally going to make independent decisions – decisions which could shape your whole life. College is a place where you can discover your own vision of the future, your dreams. For those who are sacred at the prospect of suddenly being on your own and surrounded by new teachers, new students, new subjects and new a totally environment, think of it as an opportunity, not a threat. An opportunity to learn, grow and ultimately conquer your dreams.

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