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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Teista Dwivedi/Lynx

“I’m on the 6th floor, what about you?”

“Taylor tops Kanye, any day!!”

“Oh my God, I love your tattoo!”

“I’m planning on majoring in Eco-Fin, please don’t judge me”

My ears strained to pick up a continuous thread of conversation. The sounds of random chatter blended together into a chaotic havoc. Any attempt to join a single conversation in its entirety felt like a timid murmur amidst the clamor. 

A table in the center of the mess at 2 am in the morning supposed to seat 5 people had more than twenty hovering over it. The table itself seemed to bear the weight of the collective discomfort, as it groaned under the weight of the people who squeezed into every inch available.

The mess table, in its unintended role as a metaphor for our collective experience, reflected the emotional strain that all freshmen carry during their first week.

The names of each and every person that I was introduced to 5 minutes prior to this seemed to pass by in a whirlwind. Attaching names to faces became an exercise in futility after a certain point of time. Soon the people surrounding me became ‘the girl who was wearing the same Zara tee that I had’ or ‘the guy who taught everyone Bangalore slangs,’ or even ‘the guy who had never played Uno and was totally enthralled by the concept of it.’

It was as if everyone had mastered the concept of compressing their personality into two minute conversations due to the endless amount of small talk a two day old Ashokan finds themselves doing during their first week. 

Yes, I knew that I would gradually come to know their names and yes I would develop deeper relationships with them but as for now I would try to find some sense of comfort in this bizarre new world. 

It is only when you back away from the conversation that you realize the cacophony of voices continues as if you weren’t there all along. 

And the freshman FOMO finally kicks in. 

The sensation of fading into the background brought to light the complexities of “college life.”

It is undoubtedly difficult to stand out amidst the overwhelming number of encounters, debates and talks. It reflected the widespread misconception that one might have about college as a never-ending frenzy of meaningful relationships and unforgettable experiences. 

The reality is however the exact opposite.

Everywhere you went, even if you tried finding a piece of yourself, you couldn’t because all that looked back at you were the smiling, confident faces of your batch.  

It was as if we had collectively agreed to pretend that everything was perfect, and that the emptiness within didn’t exist. 

Our perceptions about college have been greatly impacted by movies, novels, and social media, yet the way we imagined it isn’t exactly how it works. Monica Geller puts it best- “Welcome to the real world. It sucks, you’re going to love it!”

College, much like the crowded table, could feel impersonal. it can leave you feeling like a small fish in a vast sea. In this setting, where we all were experiencing homesickness while masking it, our associations with clothes, speech and quirky traits took on a deeper meaning. It seemed as though these external markers were our only source of belonging, the sole link to the world we had left behind.

Aamiya is a content writer for HerCampus Ashoka and is a freshman. She wants to pursue Economics and Finance. In her free time, she loves meeting new people and bonding over famous Bollywood one-liners. She’s always ready for a deep, late night conversation and is a foodie at heart!