I firmly believe that very few experiences in life are more traumatising than when one’s private education is put in jeopardy – awaiting the commencement of my university classes this semester has caused me a great deal of pain, not to mention the uncertainty of all these unnecessary lockdowns. As an Indian student studying abroad – and the alumnus of a very reputable school, mind you – having to wait is nothing less than a disgrace. This pandemic has put life on hold, specifically my life!
To educate you on just a few of my struggles: once a tutor of mine failed to realise our zoom meeting had ended and, I was stunned to see, broke down in tears there and then, rebuking herself for her inability to teach during a pandemic. Completely oblivious to my presence – can you imagine the nerve! I found it deeply unprofessional and was in half a mind to lodge a complaint with the university, had it not been for my generous and forgiving nature (Plus, I found it frankly annoying to inconvenience myself with the dull problems of our university staff).
Some of you will say that teachers and educators are having their own issues with online classes, but I don’t think you fully understand the problems that are hovering over me. I have been reduced to scrolling through my phone all day. Sometimes it is flavourless memes, sometimes it is boring COVID statistics, and sometimes it is these Indian farmers taking up all the space on my feed. At some point, it was all so overwhelming, and honestly affected me so much, that I just had to take a detox. I think we should all just put down our phones, take a few days off from university (or your job, if that’s what you’re into), and travel. Preferably to Miami.
I am an avid fan of Community, and though the show’s characters went to community college (honestly, I could never), I still felt that that would be the general vibe of my time here. I am not feeling this current vibe and I don’t think my contentment with life has been this low in… well, ever! This semester was supposed to be where I grow, where I experience “it,” whatever it is. You know what they tell you in school? About how amazing university will be, how it will change you, how you will meet new (white) people – the stuff that you can use to convince your parents to spend tens of thousands of pounds on you?! Well, I’m deprived of all of that this year. It really is a tragedy that I wasn’t able to experience the university life that I had imagined. Truthfully, I see myself as a victim. A victim of this pandemic, of the times, of my elite university, even a victim of my own wealth.
If I’m being completely honest, the hardest part is knowing that, while you have enough to get by, it will always somehow be less than your classmate who went to Oxford. Seeing other students attend better universities whilst I have to bear the pain of attending my own, that is the worse feeling I have ever experienced. My mental health is affected. I can’t work. I need extensions on assignments. How can one expect people like me to maintain some sense of self-worth with the kind of situation I’m in? Top 20 in the world? Who cares?! What about Top 19? So many, so many of my peers paying higher tuition fees for Zoom classes from universities better than mine! Do I empathise for them in any way? Absolutely not. They’re the real privileged ones!
Illustration: Eve Miller