It is my sincere belief that any chronicles reflecting my bundle of rich experiences at Southampton can never be completed without a mention of, or rather, in a more dignified way, a tribute to the diverse mix of students in my class. It would be an understatement if I said that this multifarious lot has been a great company and the times spent with them have been the most enriching part of my stay here and I shall always cherish them. Life in totality is nothing but an ensemble of memories… some good and some bad, and it is the thought of these good memories which gives you the strength to tide you over during the tough times. Well, I take this opportunity to apologise if I sound a little too philosophical as I reminisce those lovely times – blame it on my youthful exuberance.
Well, the most conspicuous characteristic of this small class has been its diversity. There are students from varied disciplines; architecture, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and to top it all physics. Also, the whole class comprises of international students with not even a single British student amongst us. And yes… the whole international community is represented with students from China, India, Brunei, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Italy, Malaysia, Ghana, Mexico, France and USA. I would again reiterate (at the risk of sounding repetitive) that our class provided the true international exposure required in today’s competitive diaspora with students from all over the world and with a multitude of skillsets.
Needless to say, I was the ‘Grand Old Man’ of the class but never did I feel that I was sharing my course with people seven or eight years younger than me. I had a little hesitation initially to mix with them but very soon I found myself tuned to their frequency as we spent more time together between lectures and during breaks.
I was in a group with eight of them for my group project in the first semester. No group meeting would begin without a reference made to football and rugby, or end without a tribute to the Chinese art of prototyping and their love for gadgets. More often than not, our group leader had to remind us of the theme of the meeting and urge us to stick to it, only to find himself deviating after a few minutes of discussion giving us insight into Chinese medicine or teaching us swearwords in Chinese. As one of the more confident English speakers, other than my American colleague, I often found myself struggling to decipher their English. My Greek colleague had a different accent which was cataclysmically opposite to how my Italian colleague spoke. More often than not, we would laugh and joke about the English expressions used and how a wrong usage would spoil its true meaning. It was during these group meetings that I was drawn towards the Greek art of philosophy, the Italian flamboyance, the Chinese never-say-die attitude, the Thai simplicity, the Turkish charm, the Mexican bonhomie and the American confidence. There was so much to learn from each one of them. Our group found ourselves on slightly shaky ground initially when the supervisor literally dismissed our work as a half-hearted approach. But we rose to the occasion and truly showed ‘unity in diversity’, spending hours in the library together and throwing new ideas around and finally managed to score the highest marks.
As the term progressed, I found great pals amongst them. We would find a reason in the smallest of joys or sorrows to get together and strengthen our bond. I have very fond and distinct memories of great evenings spent in their company at the Stag’s Head (the student pub on campus) to wind up the day’s work or at each other’s flats enjoying a new cuisine every time.
Enjoying the 'Great British Summer' with a barbecue at Southampton Common
A typical Monday night at Jesters
As the year draws to a close and the days together are almost numbered, one tends to get nostalgic at times. The year that has gone by has not only given us colleagues but friends for life. I am sure each one of us shall definitely miss the companionship we found in each other. And this truly has been the best gift of the University to me. Our class of 2012 shall always have a special place in my heart and the times spent together shall forever remain etched in my memory!