First Semester in BITS-Pilani, Pilani

Similar to a previously published article on my first month at BITS Pilani, this one will be focusing on my experiences which I have accumulated during first 4 months (1st semester). Right from registration formalities to saying “Hey” for the first time, from attending crazy late night parties in All Night Canteen to demanding treats for no good reason from each other, I grew up 1 semester old! So without any further delay, lets dive into this:

1. The Campus:

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Beautiful, isn’t it! When I first entered the campus through a big gate with a board greeting welcome, it felt like entering into an entirely different world. It is rightfully said the BITS Campus is a “town established within a village”. The aura/atmosphere is complete different inside and outside campus gates. Starting from the main gate to even most remote area in campus, I could find dense green trees on both sides of roads. I never found it very difficult to find my way around the campus.

Campus is divided in several academic blocks called “Faculty Division” or FD(s). During first few days finding rooms in these buildings was like finding hidden treasures. If you are come across another lost being like you, the connection of friendship was almost instant. There are 13 hostels spread around New Academic Block (NAB), with only one girl’s hostel (Meera Bhawan) being farthest from the academic blocks. Central Auditorium sits below the mighty clock tower (as seen in photo) with Rotunda and NAB in front. Within my first week, I visited Sky Lawns, Birla Museum, Aditya Birla & G.D. Birla Memorials, Student Activities Centre, Food King, The Saraswati Temple, Akshay Supermart,  Shiv Ganga, C’not (market place inside campus), Med-C Grounds, Staff Quarters, Gym-Ground, VFast Hostel and Placement Office.

Classrooms are well-lit and are same as they were back in 1960s, with little changes like inclusion of Computers for presentation purposes. Renovation of entire campus is going on under an extensive and well planned project. Campus has synthetic courts for basketball, tennis, cricket field, indoor badminton, chess, Table Tennis, Gym, pool table in Student Activities Center. First week here was like exploring Hogwarts with friends and finding new secret corridors or places every now and then!

2. The BITSians:

Any new place is as good as people habituating in it. Same goes for BITS-Pilani. I encountered all kinds of personalities. I met students ranging from nerds to optimised ones, quite sophisticated to most barbarian ones, most hygienic to care free ones, from aloof ones to highly social ones, addicts to fanatics and this list can go on. It is quite to find a replica of you in someone else and this can be a lot helpful in self-evaluation and development. One can find excellent leaders, planners, executives, lobbyists, and every possible combination of these! While meeting such a great variety of impressive people can be a little overwhelming, one thing should always be there in your mind: “sab ka baap hota hai” i.e. there will always be someone better than you and it is quite natural! This is what motivates us BITSians to strive for improvement at every stage!

So far so good. What about senior-junior interaction? On of the best! I could contact seniors for any kind of help at any time of day and they were always willing to help me. Be it academics, extracurriculars or anything else, they were always there to help me! There is just one catch: you can be frank with them but you have to respect for your seniors. After all they have gone through more than you can imagine. They deserve it for being a survivor. 😛

3. The Academics (ACADS):

Academic structure in BITS-Pilani is similar to most western colleges. The flexibility of making our own academic time-table is simply awesome. One thing peculiar to BITS Pilani is the system of ZERO ATTENDANCE. This means that even after skipping every lecture or tutorial, we are still eligible for appearing in evaluation components. But does this results in students inclining more towards missing the lectures as they don’t fear shortage of attendance? NO! There is always option to study from lecture powerpoint slides uploaded by Professors anytime and get our queries cleared during their free time. Thus bringing the education out of conventional classrooms to your personal computers. The time from skipping a lecture can be utilized for preparing for a test or pursuing some which interests you. The tests papers are set with high level of difficulty and simply can not neglect his/her acads completely, if he wishes to succeed in next 3-4 years. Thus right from beginning we are given FREEDOM, BUT WITH RESPONSIBILITY.

Library is well-equipped to satisfy any query arising in student mind and also start from scratch in entirely new field. e Books are download-able from your rooms through library website. So for geeks BITS-Pilani is equivalent to Wonderland for Alice or Chocolate Factory for Charlie. But then every now and then something like this can also happen:

4. Departments/Clubs/Fests:

Working in clubs or departments is a great way to meet batch-mates and seniors. One gets to learn so much from working for club/dept that it plays a major role in shaping your future. You get to meet people with similar fields of interest, learn a lot from seniors, make new friends, get to work in teams, and above all get the sense of responsibility. Witnessing fest in first year-first semester was amazing. BITS Open Sports Meet, the BOSM,  gave us a flavor of what OASIS is going to be. Oasis, O Oasis! What can I say about it. It was everything in itself. Photos, videos, sharing food which was meant to be shared, sharing food which was not meant to be shared, attending events, even late at night not wanting to sleep so that no events were missed – are common things that happen with everyone in Oasis.

5. ANC/REDI:
These provided relief from inedible taste of mess food. ID cards can be used to pay in All Night Canteen (ANC). Thus you can spend as much you want, worrying only at the end of month when a staggering mess bill is at your disposal waiting to be paid. All that remains at that time is to take a failed pledge of  not spending so much next month. But if you have series of tests for which you have to pull an all-nighter, ANC visit with friends can be a brilliant way to refresh yourself. REDI(S) are there for every hostel and for ANC too. Hostel Redis are open till 7-7:30pm. They are major source of evening snacks and chai or shikanji or other beverages. They provide the national food for engineers: MAGGI! After a tough exam in the evening there nothing as refreshing as fried or plain maggi at your nearest redi!

6. DC++:
There are no malls or other cool place to hangout outside of campus or good movie theatres to watch a weekend movie of favourite genre. There comes DC++ to the rescue. It is something which has been keeping the students sane enough to function in this social desert and not turn crazy. With availability of latest movies, T.V. series, books, novels and what not, one can easily fall in love with it. It provides a platform for its user to share files over LAN network anytime of the day with an average file transfer speed of 8-9mbps! Fast indeed! Certainly with restricted internet access to some most viewed sites (if you know what I mean!) and ever-so-slow internet speeds, it all comes down to DC++ operators to download and share the content which matters. That being said, there are also tutorials for almost everything- be it app development, a new language (both computer and lingual), a new musical instrument, ebooks, video lectures etc. All of these can be downloaded free of cost (of course it is piracy!). It one of the things you will  definitely miss during holidays when you will be craving to watch that new released episode from your favorite TV series!

Indeed, BITS Pilani, Its Magic!

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