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By on Jun 25, 2010 in Personal | 12 comments

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My first year at University of Surrey is over, and I’m back from the UK to India. Feels good to be back. :) Yes, there’s that niggling issue of the weather in New Delhi being a bitch. When in Guildford I thought that that was hot; obviously, I had forgotten how sweltering Delhi heat can be. Temperature outside is hovering around 42°C right now.

I don't make this stuff up. Life *does* keep chasing me with the number 42 everywhere.

When I landed at Delhi airport, it felt like coming to a new country. Not because Delhi airport had changed radically during the period I wasn’t here (it had already been improved since the ‘old’ days), but because I had arrived with a net value of zero Indian currency in my wallet, an O2 SIM card with hardly any balance left on it to make or receive calls, a NatWest debit card (with which when I tried to withdraw cash, the ATM cheerily printed off a receipt saying “Your cash has been dispensed – Amount Rs sorry, unable to dispense cash”), and dragging a heavy piece of luggage.

Off-topic: In case you haven’t seen the ad above, watch it (this is valid both for Indian and non-Indian visitors). For once, the Indian government has made an advertisement that is actually engaging, peppy and would make people want to come to India rather than a soporific ‘documentary’ featuring random shots of elephants, coastlines, and temples. Kudos to whichever ad agency that made this commercial.

I finally did make it home and spent the first few minutes writhing on the floor in agony – trying to cool myself down using the floor. I almost instantly regretted that decision. As it turns out, in my absence a colony of ants had taken up residence in my room. Jumped onto my bed with a sharp yelp and have been trying to sort out my sleep cycle since. My sleep schedule over the last two weeks had been fucked because of irregularities caused by exam prep anyway, so right now my body clock is totally confused. I feel hungry / sleepy sometimes according to BST, sometimes according to IST, and sometimes according to whatever timezone one of those tiny Pacific Ocean islands have. I sleep in short naps throughout the day, rather than at any particular time.

Not much has changed since I was last here. I even got a duplicate SIM for old cellphone number here. People have been calling up to ‘reassure’ me that the temperatures have been this high only for ‘the past few days’, which isn’t reassuring at all. Here’s hoping that regression toward the mean results in slightly more bearable days ahead.

There’s so much to catch up with! Met Amrit, Karmanya, and Prateek today, ostensibly as an impromptu meeting to discuss the “future of gyaan.in” but we ending up chatting more about colleges they’re heading off to, reminiscing old times, and just generally catching up with what’s been happening over the past few months. We had positive feedback to gyaan.in’s first quiz held recently, and one of the things that we did discuss talking about gyaan.in was about holding another quiz in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for that!

Leaving after my first year was quite an emotional roller-coaster for me. You see, I’m going to do my second academic year on a study exchange at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Our university has exchange agreements with universities in the US, Australia, Europe, Asia – NTU being one of them. I’d have loved to apply for European universities too, but you need to know the language of the partner country. The application process for my study exchange has been long-drawn because you need to get nominated by your home institution first after seeking approval of personal tutor, exchange coordinator, director of undergraduate studies, dean of faculty (these people need to believe that you’re academically good before they back the nomination with university approval); then fill out dozens of forms from the home university’s as well as the partner university’s international relations office; go back and forth seeking more approvals. It’s a lot of paperwork with a bit of anxiety thrown in because I as an applicant and the university need to ensure that the module that I will be studying at the partner institution is compatible. Things are notably easier if you go on an exchange just for one semester, but when you go for a whole year it’s “a lot more complicated”, apparently.

Over the past nine months, I have made some great friends in the UK – people working at MAD TV and The Stag, people on my course, people whom I know through the Students’ Union, people from work at SCEPTrE, people from the university in general. I’ve enjoyed some good times over the past months, and it makes me sad that I won’t be in university proper for the next two years (second year in Singapore, third year in industrial placement). By that time, many of these people whom I have become acquainted with would have graduated and moved on to other things. I had only started to my journey on becoming truly close friends with some people – especially with those on my course as we sat down for all-nighters in the library preparing for exams.

At the same time, I’m excited about future prospects! I’ll be continuing with my electronics and computer engineering pathway in NTU, and the course content of the modules that I can take on there is quite interesting. It’ll be a whole new culture, whole new study and work environment, and a whole new set of experiences and friends.

The last few days have been of emotional turmoil – joy at getting to meet my family and friends here in India, relief on finishing my first year exams, sadness (even whilst at the end-of-the-year show / Lake Party) at university that I wouldn’t be seeing many of my friends for a long time, and excitement about the confirmation that I’ll indeed be going to NTU in just under two months time.



12 Comments

  1. sahil

    June 25, 2010

    Post a Reply

    I really like the ad. I haven’t seen it on TV though.

    Incidentally, why don’t you want to continue your second year at Surrey?

    • Ankur

      June 25, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Give or take a few things, I’ll be studying pretty much the same thing at NTU that I would have been if I stayed at Surrey. The only difference is that at Surrey I don’t have to take modules on analogue electronics like I’d have to do at Surrey; I’ve filled those slots in with extra modules related to digital electronics and computers. Going by the experience of people from Surrey who’ve been on exchange to NTU earlier and course descriptions, some modules will be taught at a lower level there in second year than here (since in NTU, second year is the first year they start teaching content directly related to the course), and some modules will be taught at a level higher than here.

      On the whole, it’s not as if I’ll be studying anything significantly different. What’s unique about every institution is a different study, cultural environment. When you or I have taken the decision to study abroad, then the fact that you’re seeking new experiences – even if you aren’t consciously aware of the fact – has already been established. So when you have the chance to do so, why not make your experience richer by trying out opportunities such as this! When you graduate, the additional experience that you have of how to adapt to a new environment is useful.

      Why second year? Most colleges and universities will not allow you to go on exchange in the first and last year because those are crucial years over which the institution wants to retain control. Even with partnership and exchange agreements, credit transfer is a complicated business. That leaves any years in between for exchange; for UK universities this has to be the second year since it’s the only academic year left.

      Specifically for placement year in UK universities, you can seek to have that in a foreign country (other than UK too). It’d be sweet if I can get to do that in USA / Australia, thus scoring a trifecta of having worked/studied in three separate continents.

  2. Let’s see it this way. Your exams flipped your sleeping cycle during which you pulled all nighters for two weeks. At that point your sleeping cycle was opposite to that of UKs timing which we know is opposite of India’s timing (almost). So now that you have come back to India shouldn’t your sleeping cycle be fine in respect to IST as it was opposite in respect to BST?

    For how much time will you be in India?

    • Ankur

      June 25, 2010

      Post a Reply

      I don’t get what you mean by a time zone being ‘opposite’. :) BST is +4.5 from IST. During my exams I often used to sleep any time between 2-6am, which would push my sleep cycle further away from BST (and IST). So when I’m back, my body’s trying to stick to IST but there are remanents which attempt to go back to BST or some completely random time zone.

      I’ll be in India till the end of August.

      • Ankur

        June 25, 2010

        Yes, I’ll be around for CW. Vivek was excited when he heard the same too.

      • Prem

        June 30, 2010

        When is CW ? Is it in August ?

      • Ankur

        July 1, 2010

        That’s the outlook right now. Code Wars is probably happening in mid-August.

  3. Agrim

    July 8, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Whenever you come to Singapore, let me know, we’ll meet up :)

    And PLEASE. No singlish. PLEASE do NOT speak like ” walao re so imba lah! Damn pro” or “we two fren-fren one” or ANYTHING on those lines (that’s a sneakpeak).
    Oh, those sentences meant:
    1. Wow dude, so much difference! You’re an expert.
    2. We both are friends.

    now yeah, do not speak singlish

    and my number here is +6584397980

    • Ankur

      July 8, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Definitely Agrim! :) Where do you stay in Singapore?

      I’ve read a bit of Pidgin English in Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, and ‘Singlish’ sounds similar. You seemed to have learnt quite a bit of it though. ;)

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