Dubai Diaries: Life without a campus is no fun

anjana@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 17, 2021

Amidst today's pandemic, college kids are losing out on some vital experiences.

Are these supposed to be the best years of my life? My first year of college is just over and I haven’t even stepped into my campus. Not even once! This is how my 20-year old whined as he shut his laptop and said goodbye to the unseen faces of his classmates. He has spent a whole year studying the basics of psychology by staring at a screen.

He should have been around his peers, hanging out in the college cafeteria. Bunking classes. Borrowing money from peers. Making new friends. Falling in love. Getting his heart broken. And yeah, understanding the complexities of human mind in between all of these. As a true-blue parent, I am guilty of lecturing my son too often about the importance of education in life. All parents do.

We tell them to study and study some more with the unflinching conviction that the sole purpose of going to college is securing a shiny certificate. It was drummed into our heads by our parents and we repeat the drill. There is no doubt that thick textbooks and lengthy lectures helped us pursue higher education and later land a job. But our true brag rights come from our college escapades. In fact, the college exploits are the most harmless kind of bragging we can get away with.

No one will judge you if you say you have bunked classes and copied from your friend’s answer sheets. Tell your colleagues about your hostel brawls and they will nod their approval. Tell your boss that you used to swipe from your dad’s wallet, and trust me, he will not question your credibility.

Whether you are a bureaucrat, vice president of a company or editor of a newspaper you can always brag about how you left behind mountains of unpaid bills at the college cafe, nursed a secret crush on a teacher or fell in love with your best friend’s boyfriend.

The fun, fights and feasts of college days are best-sellers anywhere we go. Our hard-earned grades or shiny certificates are just boring vestiges of an otherwise fun era we had. The pandemic has taken away many precious things. For young people like my son, the virus has taken away their future bragging rights. I imagine him telling his colleagues how he slept off during a sociology class or swiped mom’s credit card on Zomato when he was too lazy to cook.

I imagine him telling his kids about his crush on a girl who had a beautiful face. We can hope that wearing masks while hanging out with friends or surviving a semi-lockdown will seem like a thrilling adventure in a few decades. When life gives him a pandemic, let him learn to make pancakes with it.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.