What follows is a fictionalized narration of someone who dares to dream of being back on campus. The author has taken the creative liberty to imagine the scenes without the requisite protocols and guidelines that might follow an actual B2C (Back to Campus).
It was the last class of the day. The final minute before the end. Eyes fixated on the glorious, red “Leave” button.
The class winds up. I finally click on that button, marking an end to my MBA-from-home odyssey. I open my inbox and stare at the B2C mail from the PGDM admissions office for the 23rd time. It feels surreal every time I go back to read it. The pangs of excitement remind me of the day I got my admission at SPJIMR.
I spend my evening organizing my luggage, while binge-listening to ThoughtCast. Since the day I received the mail, my outlook towards everything around me changed. The endless zoom meetings don’t tire me anymore. The beautiful campus pictures from the official Instagram handle no longer brings the FOMO. And the joy of meeting the entire SPJIMR family beyond the virtual windows is enough to offset the multiple deadlines looming large!
I slept well that night. I slept really well.
“You’ve reached your destination.” – the lady in Google Maps declares as the cab halts in front of the main gate. I didn’t suppress my smile.
Walking through the campus of one of the top business schools in Mumbai, India for the first time felt like unlocking a whole new dimension. The sound of quietness surrounds the walkways and I enjoy the light breeze on my face while walking along the lake. The hustling of the crowd in the mess. It’s as if you’re watching a well-made movie adapted from your favorite book!
I reach my hostel room. There is a lot to do for the day – putting the room in order, attend classes, complete the assignment which is due at EOD, Committee meeting and many more things that are urgent, but had completely missed my mind. But before I return to the chaos, I pause to have a good look around the room. So many memories waiting to be made right here in the days to come. People will hang out, chat, celebrate and share their predicaments which will make this chaos bearable, and the exhaustion worthwhile.
I reach the mess for my meal before I head to my first offline class. By now, I’ve met a lot of folks. Some were easy to recognize, some weren’t. Some were way taller than I imagined them to be. And some had voices that sounded different from their virtual ones. I sat at a table with few known faces(read friends). As we chatted about our trip to the campus and shared our joy of finally being here, I noticed how different it felt to see these faces doing normal things like eating their meal, having a sip of water, washing their hands. They are no longer static faces staring at the screen!
I walked towards the class a bit faster than usual. On other days, that pace would mean I am late for the class. But today, it is the adrenaline that is propelling the pace. I took a moment as I came across the huge SPJIMR logo at the entrance of the academic building. There was a renewed sense of belonging to this place, greater pride in the spirit of “Courage and Heart” that this place represents.
As I opened the door, the visuals in front of me brought gleeful delight. The bright lights, the circular bench and the blue plates embossed with our names. Except for the nameplates, there is nothing new to being in class. And yet, little things like these are what we missed the most in our MBA journey till now!
The class felt lively, brimming with discussions. No network issues or external distractions disrupted the flow of the class. We could see the spark in our teachers’ faces; feeling as enthusiastic to be in the same room! However, there is one thing that didn’t change – the fear of cold-calling.
There was a sense of warmth everywhere. I finished my classes and walked towards the library, observing new faces along the way. From the security guards to the staff at the program office – everyone exchanged smiles and catching up with each other as if they’re meeting at a reunion. And reunion it was, for all those who’ve been part of the family for years, who worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure our online experience remained smooth.
It was almost bedtime as I reached my room. The entire day was physically tiring – hopping from class to class, to the mess to the library, meeting every deadline as it came by. But mentally, I’ve never felt so much at peace! I decided to make an exception for today and sleep at the time normal humans do. There was so much to look forward to the next day. A new chapter in this rediscovered MBA life at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research!
I slept well that night. I slept really well.
A loud alarm woke me up at 08:30 AM. Opening my eyes, I adjusted to the vision of the reality around me. I was back in my room, with my laptop sleeping beside me. I checked the calendar on my phone. A class is scheduled at 09:00 AM, with a Zoom link attached. I let out a huge sigh and began the (online) grind for the day.