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Arriving as starry-eyed freshers, dazed by the beauty of the campus of their dream college, and leaving as grown-up seniors wisecracking their way through life—the golden period at the IIT Bombay is much more vibrant than anyone outside might ever be led to believe. With this, I welcome you to Episode No. 3 of ‘The IIT Diaries’ (find episode no.1 here and no.2 here).

Today, I’ve decided to bring to light the ‘not-so-average’ life of an average kid in IIT-Bombay.

Life at IIT Bombay

Let us start the journey where it all begins: You are one of the thousand-odd kids who have been lucky enough to get into IIT-Bombay by cracking the toughest entrance exam in the world. Needless to say, you are in awe of the college, the huge campus sprawling over 550 acres, and everyone who studies in it. This is where it all kicks off.

The ‘Freshie’ Year

This is probably the best year of the insti life. A bit like rewinding to childhood, where everything seemed fascinating, awe-inspiring and full of mystique. You’ll be congratulated and warmly welcomed to the college by the who’s who of IIT-Bombay. Instructions, orientations, and fun will begin soon after.

This year of your insti life is meant for exploring and experimenting. Make new friends, try out new sports, pick up new activities—do everything that you were unable to during your 11th and 12th standard of preparation. On an average, you’ll get to know yourself quite a lot during this year but only if you are conducive to it. It’s just like the childhood phase, when you are free to do anything that pleases you. Learn, listen, study, gossip, and troll. There are also college fests to be organised, ‘katau’ seniors to be harangued and grades to be fought over. The way I see it—my freshie year has passed in the blink of an eye.

 The ‘Sophie’ Year

As sophomores or second-year students, you are accredited with some knowledge and ‘gyaan’ about the insti. You proclaim yourselves fit enough to pass on random bits of advise—both good and bad—to the freshmen. Moving into the senior hostels, fighting for Positions Of Responsibility (POR), bunking classes for absolutely no reason but the thrill of it—these are the highlights of the second year.

This year gives you dreams and lets you explore a bit about where you will eventually land up—core sector, non-core sector, start-ups, etc. Internships will be the most sought-after things and the most envied ones too. That, along with PORs, will be the things that adorn your as-yet empty resumes! However, look back upon yourself from the year before, and you’ll definitely notice a lot of changes in your personality. That’s the beauty of the life at IIT Bombay – you grow as you learn.

The ‘Thirdie’ Year

This is where things start getting a little bit serious. You start sleeping on time, waking up on time, and paying attention in the classes. Everything that you messed up in your first and second years is to be rectified in the third year. There is but one simple reason: this is the year of reckoning. You need to take a serious decision about what you want to pursue in your life and act accordingly. Internships during the summer and winter will be the most important of all the internships that you’d have done till then. This will be the growing up year of your life at IIT Bombay.

The ‘Fourthie’ Year

This is a strange period, mostly because academics take a backseat on your priority list. Barely ten students will show up for a class, and good grades will be showered upon you, in a last-ditch attempt by the professors to improve your CPI before you apply for jobs. Filling out applications for foreign universities, creating fancy resumes, practicing for job interviews—these are the main highlights of the fourth year. Placements are over during the winter vacations, and after that, life is a party till you actually get started with your jobs.

Valfi season comes round soon after, bringing with it entire casks of ‘the stuff’ (bowing to reader sentimentality here :p). Then there’ll be tasty snacks, and no-holds-barred stories blown up to epic proportions. It will be one of the periods of life at IIT Bombay that you’ll probably never forget!

However, there is also that lingering, ever-growing feeling of sadness—because you’ll be leaving the campus soon, it’ll be time to step out into the real world and the chasm of safety in which you are cocooned along with your friends is going to cease to exist. That is a harsh reality, which kicks in during your last semester.

You have experienced the insti life to the fullest, done all the crazy stuff, made the best of friends anyone could ever make, yet you will find yourself yearning for more of the same. It is an emotional farewell to the insti and the best part of your life. You’ll be leaving many things behind. But you’ll take with you, in equal measure, the quality to work hard and smart, and the confidence to know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. That, and of course great memories by the ton-loads.

Time flies too fast. It passes by even as you’re having fun, and soon it is time to leave all that and step out into the world. Well, I’m glad I still have a lot of time on my hands to enjoy the dream, before this idyll is shattered with worries of the world!

Well, this is the truth about the life of an IIT graduate. Hope you enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ll be back soon with more amusing stories about life at IIT Bombay.

Until then, goodbye!

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