Leave us be in our Hybrid Haven

Edited by Neha Cherian

Design by Devika

Instead of the ten alarms I set last night, I am woken from my fever dream by the sound of my mom yelling outside my door. The time is 8:10 AM and I’m ten minutes late to the first class. I pray that the professor was not done with attendance that is already suffering as a result of my nocturnal lifestyle. The yelling outside my door does not stop. In fact, it gets louder and higher in pitch. 

I wake up again from my fever dream by the sound of screeching. Only this time, it’s coming from a monkey brawl happening in the corridor. I slept through the ten alarms and the time was 10:10 AM. Missing two classes straight is not doing wonders to my attendance that is already suffering as a result of my late-night adventures with friends. I am reminded that my life is much different now. After all, I am on campus. 

When asked by friends and family about how campus life has been so far, I usually reply with “hectic” which might be the understatement of the year. The last two months saw the end of the painful third semester, the email that finally was, the packing and moving, the scramble to put together two fests and the sudden third wave that almost brought everything crashing down. The sudden shift from living relatively inert lives to juggling between quarantine, NSO, Workshop and PoR schedules has been tough to handle. But we’re not complaining. Having got a taste of what real college life is supposed to be like, we cannot imagine giving it up.

That’s not the only reason we are not complaining though. Are we disappointed that we do not get to live out the full, authentic on-campus college experience with proper offline lectures? [Professors, if you are reading this, it’s time to stop.] Sure, maybe a little, but we are not in that much of a hurry to get back to it either. Some of us are actually happier to enjoy the benefits of online education while living the best parts of the offline life. Now we get to attend classes sitting in the library among friends across departments, in CCD or just letting it play on the phone while hanging out with friends. 

For others, the online classes also serve as a bit of a relief, since the transition from wrapping up a hectic online third semester to moving into campus and Saarang and Shaastra barely left some of us any time to stop, breathe and take it in. The ensuing burnout is one that is hard to describe to our parents or seniors stuck at home. Online classes allow us to wallow and wait out the slump, and get used to the sudden exhaustion from having to be in multiple places at the same time. The administration hardly helps by treating us like a herd of cattle to be moved from hostel to hostel. A short survey of the small comforts of online classes:

“We cannot have ‘internet issues’ when suddenly called out in class anymore.”

“Can you imagine actually staying awake for a philosophy lecture after lunch? The horror!”

“It does feel weird knowing you can speak without having to click ‘unmute’ first.”

“I think I have forgotten how to write, let alone a whole offline exam.”

“How many classes can you miss to maintain 85% attendance?”

Of course there also exists the rare breed of sincere and enthusiastic students who wish to attend select classes offline- usually courses with popular professors. However, a sizable  population  ardently supports the online system, citing reasons ranging from crowded bathrooms in the early mornings to being able to attend classes from bed. With the sudden shift from a stagnant, sedentary lifestyle to a dynamic and social one, some of us also prefer to hold on to the few comforts that were taken for granted back home. The ease of maintaining a solid attendance without much effort, for one, will be dearly missed by the batch that has only thus far known a system ridden with loopholes ready to be exploited. The same applies to the prospect of offline exams. Nothing more to be said on that. 

Empirical evidence suggests that the ideal college life is online classes, offline society and no exams- but who are we kidding. It only took a rash of emails from the acads section announcing offline classes and endsems to torpedo our fragile happiness. This is a natural reaction to be expected from people finding it hard to shake off the inertia of the two years gone by. The overall impact of online classes on the education of the students has been a long-debated issue. The general consensus is that it has been , on balance, a negative phenomenon. Two years after the start of the pandemic, we are ready, more so than ever, to jump back into offline life.  The real question however is, are we really ready to forsake the comfort and unhealthy coping tactics we used to get by in the online semesters? The excuse of “it’s a pandemic and online semester” that some of us may have used to justify bad performance and use of illicit tactics to get through the year suddenly come back to haunt us because that’s all we’ve ever known. Now thrown back into the real world (or what has become of it), we really do find ourselves questioned on how ready we are. 

Yes, we are living the hybrid college life, but are we really complaining? 

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