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  • Quirk NLS

Dream Destination Yet?

This piece has been written by Sankari B (Batch of 2025). The cover image has been created by Anshita Agrawal (Batch of 2023)

A month before my CLAT examination, I remember losing hope. Too many postponements had drained my energy and motivation to prepare. What kept it alive was a huge picture of the university of my dreams – NLSIU. I pasted it on my cupboard, and drew a stick-figure of myself (because I’m a terrible artist), longing to reach the destination. Finally, the most-awaited CLAT results were out and a dream was supposed to come true. It didn’t. The stick-figure me was still at home, not at the dreamy campus of India’s finest law university. The pandemic has crushed my dreams of having a campus life, but not my hope of learning. The idea of an online trimester had sunk in and I had some enthusiasm to explore the course. 

Fast forward to 2nd November, and I had already tasted the flavour of academic rigour. Except, I tasted it with an upset stomach (literally), making me feel sick during my first week at virtual NLS. With mild diarrhoea, I sat in front of my laptop screen, with shards of optimism and energy. I tried switching on my video, hoping that it would keep me engaged and active during class. But, a minute later, I heard the professor’s voice breaking and saw the message: “Your internet connection is unstable.” Well, that clearly defined my mood from that day. After my first class, I had a virtual consultation with my paediatrician for treating my upset stomach. She sent her e-prescription with some antibiotics to treat it. But I was wishing for a medicine to restore my sanity (Wait, do sanity and NLS go together?)

After my first day, I knew this online trimester was going to be grueling and overwhelming. I could feel the sense of detachment; that laptop screen was a barrier, which extinguished that tiny spark in me. I felt lost; it felt like the professors spoke a different language from mine. The six-hour classes were too taxing and the pain in my eyes was excruciating. Every night, after class, I jumped to my bed – a heavenly abode – and the pleasure my eyes felt couldn’t be described in words. Every morning, I woke up with my pleasure vanishing, as my mind treaded to a dreadful destination – my workload. I tried swimming across the ocean of readings, but I kept drowning. Google and I became closer, so did its dictionary, as I looked up almost every second word written in my readings. The worst part was that I couldn’t highlight or scribble some quick notes in the margins, since it was all our readings were in the form of e-reading PDFs or webpages, and not hard copies. Then, I found a new friend in Microsoft Edge (who wasn’t in use until then) and Adobe Reader. The above precisely describes my social life. Soon, I tried embracing my old friend, all-nighters to cope with the academic pressure. 5 courses, 5 projects, 6 hours of class per day, orientations, and workshops, debate, moot, negotiations, journals – the list never ends and inevitably, this to-do list shamelessly spilled over to my cozy weekend. 

Online classes have certainly impacted my participation, as the feeling of detachment always creeps in and zoning-out is way too easy. I never switched on my video in fear of exposing my drooping eyes (not because of the subject, but because of my sleep deprivation). I felt so many concepts racing past my brain that sometimes I had the urge to press the “Go Slower” option in Zoom. Since time is scant, I often brushed through readings, without engaging with them. This also worried me a lot, as a part of me wished to take the time to explore them further. My brain switched on its overthinking button, as deadlines were written all over my head. My incapability caught my attention, my flaws felt like they were in the spotlight. My energy was withering. Time seemed too scarce and precious and my backlogs unlimited. I felt like I was a struggling juggler, trying to juggle these tasks yet managing to drop all of them at once. I had to make trade-offs; TV series, books, leisure, sleep, writing poetry, and social life.

Detachment crept into my virtual social life. The feeling of connecting with my batchmates through WhatsApp never fascinated me, especially for a person who barely uses WhatsApp. From 2-3 texts a day, my phone was flooded with 1000+ messages a day. Initially, this was overwhelming, because reading through these endless texts made my eyes tired again. Sometimes, when I did give it a read, I realized that I was not alone. These messages were just rants from my peers; expressed in various formats, from poetry to memes. I laughed at many to myself, though I would have preferred to have laughed at them with my peers. I crave for long conversations with a crazy tribe rather than online conversations, which lack warmth and connection. 

The problems of virtual classes do not stop here. Our home, once a peaceful place, turned into a war-zone; quibbling over internet issues. Both my parents are software engineers, working from home and I have a brother who also attends online classes. So, all four of us manage with a terrible broadband connection, quarrel over who gets the mobile data and accuse each other of not charging a useless dongle. Internet issues found its place at dinner-table conversations, which usually consisted of cricket and politics. I despise this virtual world; online classes, online readings, and virtual social life (if you have one).

But these few weeks at virtual NLS has taught me a lot not only about the subject but about stress-management. I have slowly improved in managing my workload (basically sleeping, avoiding work, and still feeling sleepy is the mantra), made some time for myself (inspired by J.B Priestley’s essay ‘On Doing Nothing’), and listened to my favourite songs on loop every day. I met up with my friends after 8 months, started working on my blog, and watched a movie with my family. I’m proud of myself and my batch for constantly pushing themselves and for completing projects (a marathon). It was satisfying to complete them, especially because at the start of the trimester, I would have never imagined that I could write three research papers. 

I must be grateful to my support system: my family, my batchmates, and my seniors. They keep reminding me that I’m not alone in this rollercoaster ride of stress. They all instill hope in me saying, “Things will become better, you’ll learn to manage.” At this phase, I’m reminded of Alexandre Dumas’s quote: “All of human wisdom is summed in two words: wait and hope.” Till then, my self-portrait (the shabby stick figure) at the NLS campus, is still a dream to come true.

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