As a dream I had built up and worked toward five years, realizing around March that I would have the opportunity to read more Law outside of India was gratifying. As the pandemic spread around the world, the uncertainty around how my education would play out grew. My parents kept it all very grounded though. I was going to get the chance to study something I cared about deeply from lecturers and peers at the University of Cambridge. While we hoped that I would have the chance to fly to be here, we braced for the chance that I would continue my education from my house in Bengaluru.
Sometime in August it became clear I would be able to fly. Things moved very rapidly after that, and within a month I was in the United Kingdom. I’m very grateful for the chance to study here, and every day I set myself up on a journey to appreciate and enjoy what I am given and see how to pay it forward.
I am optimistic about my learning conditions, and truly, I’ve embraced online learning. I love it because of the flexibility it offers and the amount of time it frees up. As a result of that it has become easy to forget that this is not how Cambridge normally is. When people point that out to me I often inform them that there is no counterfactual for me to compare the experience I am having with the experience I would have had. There is secondary evidence, sure – and lots of it. I confess I love all the blogs, all the vlogs, all the tweets, all the stories. None of it is something I’ve experienced. Therefore, Cambridge, for me, is what it is today. With all the talk about this becoming our new normal, despite my reluctance to adopt the phrase, maybe it is time to accept that the city’s experience will be different henceforth. Personally, the warmth of Cambridge and it’s people has continued to shine through the November lockdown and Tier 4 restrictions now. The warmth of faculty remains, even through online modes of communication. My experience has been affected by the pandemic, all of ours have, but personally, there is no tainting or downplaying what I get to experience each day.
However, it is equally important to revisit the fact that my education has continued amidst a pandemic. For the dream I built up after finishing my A Levels and consciously electing to stay back in India, I was disappointed about the pandemic for some time in April. Like I said at the start, my parents helped me a lot. The experience of all of this has led to recalibration – particularly about pedestalizing experiences and people.
This is in harmony with everything I’ve written in the past week. While there are still experiences I am desirous of having, and people I am keen to meet, and things I wish to have, I’m going to always account for the externalities beyond my control. As I’ve seen in the past year, I think that it will allow me to continually be mindful of how the experience I am having is unique to me, whether this is an interaction with a place, a situation, or a person. That just means accepting things better and understanding how they operate. COVID-19 has been, and remains terrible. My learning experience here at Cambridge has been great. Acknowledging both those statements can be reconciled just by accepting how personal these experiences are. That’s what I want to take forward.