Being the youngest and most pampered child, it took every ounce of strength in my body to bid my parents goodbye and settle into my crammed-up room. I was excited, happy, nervous and confused at the same time. It was the first time I was alone by myself. Here I was, finally in the college of my dreams and yet I was scared. Am I ever going to make friends? Am I ever going to ace this phase of my life?
Questions every medical hosteller has in mind. To begin with, my initial few months were tedious and an uphill climb. I struggled immensely. I couldn’t gel in as quickly as the other girls and hence, I would usually be alone. To add fuel to the fire, the food was almost inedible. And this made me miss my mom and her scrumptious freshly prepared food.
However, I put up a strong face because I knew this wouldn’t be easy. If it was easy, everyone would’ve been doing it. Besides the terrible food and loneliness I faced, I also had the hardest time trying to share my personal space. The concept of privacy in a hostel is irony in and of itself. Living with 7 girls, as bad as it sounds, was even worse in real life. And then came the time difference. I was a night owl, while others were early birds. I couldn’t study at night because they wanted the lights off to sleep, and at 4 am when I’m in the deepest and sweetest phase of my sleep, everyone would wake up and start their busy and buzzing mornings. No friends, no privacy, no sleep, tight pockets and bad food. It looks like I have already come to a conclusion here, but hold up.
Despite all the issues I faced, there was an upside to everything, and as jarring as it may sound, I would recommend every youth to live in a hostel at some point of their life. Still confused? Let me break down for you how life in a medical hostel is…
- No friends
A college student’s worst nightmare. Being a medico you need friends to maintain the sanity you have left in yourself. As much as I struggled initially to make friends, I surprisingly did end up making quite a few of them. Relations that are thicker than blood. No matter how impossible it seems, everyone ends up with a friend. When you live together, eat together and share your space with someone you are bound to interact and make friends eventually. And when you do, friends, everything is suddenly a piece of cake. Those late-night talks about life, 2am bonding over Maggi noodles, rooftop conversations and movie nights are some of the few things you cherish forever. You never realize how close you become to someone. You don’t stay friends; you become family. If you’re sick, others cook for you. If your pockets are empty, the other pays for you. And a cherry on top of the cake is the group study sessions. You all teach each other and study together and at that very moment a medico experiences teamwork and appreciates it. From that day onwards until you become a doctor and are standing in a room of doctors, you begin to value teamwork.
All those memorable nights and days are worth everything. However, you do face issues. You make friends, you lose some. The tighter the friendship, the more likely it is to break. And you outgrow people. You’re only 18 when you enter med school. As days go by, you mature, your values change, and your idea of friendship keeps on evolving. Hence, losing friendships is bound to cause you heartbreaks. But this only makes you stronger and resilient to face the real world.
- Privacy/ hygiene
Over the months, you become flexible. You adapt to situations very quickly and no matter how pampered you once were, you begin to be less selfish and more caring, tender and understanding. You experience different kinds of people and situations. Those power cuts and water issues only make you calmer and more adaptive in life. You learn to appreciate your life. The little things you once took for granted are now acknowledged.
As for food, oh, God. How the tables have turned – you even crave for your mom’s bitter gourd! But you value food more and begin to eat consciously. You start to cook. Even if it starts with an egg by the end of this rollercoaster ride, you can make finger licking master chef dishes with limited ingredients!
- Time differences
You learn how to manage your time. You learn how to priorities in life. You don’t waste your time on unnecessary things. And the best part? You finally develop financial maturity, and learn how to manage finances, a skill crucial for every individual to develop in life.
As for sleep? Well that was already out of the chapter when you entered med school. But on a serious note, you learn the importance of sleep and while studying, even though your friends’ snores disturb you initially, you cut them some slack because they are willing to keep the lights on for you to study. So it’s a 2 way relationship and you eventually learn to work through it.
The once naïve and shy nervous student, by the time you leave, you are a strong mature independent person who knows how to handle finances and how to priorities in life. You are focused, ambitious and even more confident. Living with people has taught you to be bold and stand up for yourself. It has made you bigger and better. You have a strong control over your emotions and never again will you let it cloud your judgement.
There might be downsides to hostel life but the experiences, friends, life skills and overall, the great memories for life outweigh the demerits. In a nutshell, according to my personal experience, I believe every adolescent should live in a hostel for some time as it not only helps in personality development needed to succeed in life as a medical student, but also shapes you into a better doctor overall.