Stepping out of the Zoom room- a sophomore’s campus debut

[The following account entails a sophomore’s quest through campus after a year of online classes. All events are fictional and are to be taken with a grain of salt].

During freshman year, one ought to explore the campus, make new friends, and find nearby places to hang out. However, for the past year, the university has been her laptop screen; Zoom has been her classroom, the admin’s office, and the hangout spot with new friends. Therefore, when the day arrives to finally step out of the Zoom room and on campus for the first time, she is filled with excitement and enthusiasm. 

Stepping up to the building with ‘Brac University’ engraved on the wall, she expects to be welcomed by a sea of eager faces. Instead, she gets pushed hither and thither by a crowd in a blackened edifice. Once she receives instructions to collect her ID card from building 6, she roams around for a while, trying to find it. After tripping on a stray brick or two during the process, she wonders if this is how campus life is supposed to be. 

As she sets out on a new quest to find her classroom, she gets lost in the myriad of stairs, corridors, and elevators because she does not recognise the buildings and their respective departments. She finally locates it after an excruciating ordeal of climbing endless stairs and doubting if oxygen ever existed on the planet but soon realises that UB50901 means room 1 on the ninth floor of building number 5. It is almost as if the universe is punishing her for slacking off working out for the past year. To her dismay, this is just the first half of the first day out of the Zoom room.

After a lot of trouble, she finally reaches the classroom, the cool blast of the air conditioner a welcome reprieve from the heat outside. She meets her classmates with whom she has only communicated online so far. However, it seems like she cannot recognise anyone because, in her imagination, they were very different people. The calm and quiet turns out to be very talkative and cheerful. The nerdy ones stay mute throughout the entire class and those who she presumed to be asleep during most of the online sessions suddenly become teacher’s favourites. She chalks it to the fact that everyone is different in real and reel life. She finds that interacting with teachers in-person is incomparable to virtual lessons – allowing her to absorb and learn much faster in just the first class. Next, she explores the campus with her friends and goes to the library. She was expecting the library to be a vast space, where everyone could walk freely and study comfortably – she was surprised to find it quite cramped. Yet, it was interesting to find spots to sit and read between the aisles – maybe this will be her go-to spot to relax between classes. 

After figuring out the ins and outs of the procedure to borrow books from the amiable librarian, she decides to explore independently and maybe even find the famous Bot Tola that everyone adores. But the true trial is to cross the road to get there. She rarely crosses roads by herself, and even those rare occasions usually make anxiety rise up her throat. But this experience is less horrific than she anticipates. She follows the herd of people, trying her best to stay in the middle so that on the off chance that a motorised vehicle tries to pulverise her, a few other students can unintentionally sacrifice their lives or good limbs for her.

Finally, at Bot Tola, she is amongst the crowd, trying to take it all in. She fights through a mass of people to obtain some of the famous lemonade. Its fantastic flavour ultimately makes her trust the place a little too much because what she eats next causes her stomach to give dangerously threatening lurches, leading her to panic and find a washroom.

She goes into the closest BracU building and runs up the stairs, praying to discover a miraculous chamber pot like how the Room of Requirements presented one to Professor Dumbledore when he needed it the most. But when she finally finds the washroom, it is not dedicated to her gender. Thus, after she frantically climbs another floor and begs the attendant for the whereabouts of her destination, she promises herself that she will not trust every food that sends wafts of heaven spiralling up her nostrils.

The rest of the day follows the standard of getting lost every time she tries to find her classes, but she can imagine improving navigating the campus. Having done virtual courses for an entire year still makes her feel like it is her first day at University. Stepping out of the Zoom room does not feel as congenial as expected, probably because she is used to being slothful, but the new environment is undoubtedly refreshing. She is incredibly glad that the era of online classes is flickering out. She believes that learning how to maneuver the ways of BracU with a good grip of expertise will lead to it being an enjoyable and adventurous place indeed.

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