My first year at B-School

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I turned the final page. A smile on my face reaching out to my eyes. It was yet another happily ever after. So pretty is the world of books- a place where you find your true self, where dreams meet hopeful realities. An expression of happiness, pain, strength, courage and a plethora of emotions all packed together in a bunch of pages.

I have always lived in this world, the world of fantasy and possible impossibilities.

And I entered into such a world with TAPMI. Roller coaster rides, that helped me experience the practical realities, not always pretty but perfect.

With fear, excitement, and insecurity, I entered the gates of this lush green campus. Snuggled in the arms of the Western Ghats situated in the student-driven town of Manipal. A walk around and I was already in love with it, the calm, the colors and the air filled with a vibrant energy that seemed to touch your soul.

As we looked around, there was a sense of satisfaction in my parents’ eyes. They were parting with me for the first time in 22 years. With tears and a smile, they left me. I stood there alone watching them drive away, allowing the beauty to surround me, letting it fill my senses, helping me be calm and composed during this period of change. I walked into my hostel and Akka greeted me with a warm smile. With some kind words and a reassuring pat, I was handed the keys to my room. A little space with everything you need. I started arranging things, every second trying to make it more mine. A knock on the door and a sweet girl walked in, who knew we would be mates for life.

Two days of induction seemed to fly by and on a fresh new day, we started this new chapter of our lives, called MBA.

Sitting in a corner, turning left and right in my chair, I looked around at the excited yet apprehensive faces, giggling, fussing, confused, silent and indifferent. All here from different parts of the country, each with its own story, away from the monotony of their usual, taking a leap of faith to create their own identities.

From among this bunch, we were put in groups of 10, with a mentor to guide us through this voyage. This arrangement was called FAS (Faculty Advisory Service), and these groups became our workgroups. These unknown, unfamiliar faces were going to be the ones working all night on group assignments, helping each other out and being our support in a far and distant place, eventually becoming our family.

The days passed slowly, yet so fast. Professors, lectures, assignments, quizzes, simulations, from this basket of academic chaos, we found refuge in walks around the beautiful campus, musical evenings with our guitar-strumming, beatboxing friends, an unending saga of philosophical debates or just a small cup of coffee. To add to this flavor, the night canteen filled our empty tummies and saved our wandering souls.

A month down the lane, and we learned about the committees and forums. More than 25. Each one different and unique One for everyone’s taste. Finance, marketing, HR, operations, quizzing (Espirit), media(Lime), Toastmasters, branding(BrandScan), welfare, social endeavor, the list goes on.
Pitching, nominations, elections, interviews, sleepless nights, racing with time, a new vibe was on campus. A competitive spirit to be a part of your favorite committee, to be able to unleash your capabilities and create new histories. To show to everyone, that we were more than the marks that we had scored, there was something more, something that would show everyone we were unique in our own ways. We were creative, imaginative and tough, we were here to be noticed.

The weather was changing and the clouds engulfed us. The days had become shorter but the pressure had increased. Umbrellas and case studies had become our new best friends.
Every day was a new challenge, and every day brought a new lesson: in class, in the mess, from peers or from the experience.

But that wasn’t all. What kept us going and motivated were the energizers, a gulp of which we tasted every few weeks in the form of cultural events to business conclaves, from the quiz on the beach to our market research conclave, BrandScan. No opportunity was left unturned to bring out the best in us.
Every festival, every birthday, every occasion we all came together and celebrated it with an unparalleled enthusiasm and rigor. Lighting up the campus in varied colors and flavors, showcasing the diversity in both people and in thought, creating new memories yet bringing out unparalleled nostalgia.

Two terms down, we ended the year getting high on Speed- the show stopper of Sports events around the year, where each one came together participating and fighting for their section! No one could beat the aggression on court and sportsmanship off it!
For someone who never really played sport, my name was there in every game. That was the spirit!

We were now into the routine, the pressure cooker in us whistled, yet it did so more patiently. We were championing the art of multi-tasking. We had learned to make time, prioritize and make each day count. With afternoons spent in the library, evenings in the Bloomberg lab on bean bags fiddling over the enormous amount of data or the nights at the night canteen lighted up with laughter, music, and food. We soaked it all in, enjoyed it all, lost ourselves in this strange confluence of pressure and bliss.

Let’s not forget the short getaways to the beautiful beaches all over Manipal. The treks, the waterfalls and the scenic bliss, it was a refresher to keep the energies high and positive all year round! I could have spent all day sitting there looking at the infinite sea, letting each breeze, each ray, each drop wash over me as it consumed my exhaustion.

A visionary director, an enthusiastic group of professors, crazy classmates and friends, a roller coaster of emotions, and a bouquet of beautiful memories, a recipe for a perfect MBA.

There is nothing I haven’t experienced in this one year, and every moment brought me closer to myself. Revealed a different side of me. Helped me overcome fears and discover new talents that had been lying dormant just waiting to be revealed. This journey has helped me explore a new place, find new learnings, new interests, broader perspectives and not only that it helped me explore a new me, a better me, a more confident and independent me.

These lines that were once written staring musingly out of the window of my room sums up my experience beautifully: –

This new chapter of my life, filled with surprises and smiles,
You want it to freeze or go on for miles.
Slowly and steadily, the place once unknown,
Today seems familiar, now feels like home.

Aarti Gupta

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TAPMI Manipal
The student city of Manipal, Karnataka plays host to the T.A. Pai Management Institute, fondly known as TAPMI. With academic rigour and experiential learning at its core, TAPMI’s Post Graduate Diploma in Management Programs are approved by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) since its constitution.