How My Traumatic Experience Forced Me to Drop Out of College

After 12th I opted for Hotel Management. Due to certain forced circumstances, I had to drop out of college in my second year. Read my story to know why did I choose to drop out of college and what did I decide to do afterwards.

Studying Hotel Management after 12th

During our high school in the Calcutta Boys’ School, we had several experts and people from the industry come up to our school and demonstrate the job aspects and fields they were working in. They would share their personal experiences as well. I particularly was really interested in Hotel Management as I always loved cooking and thus had made up my mind to go for that journey after 12th.

I researched around the course “Bachelors in Hotel Management” and got a few colleges in Kolkata, namely IHM Kolkata (Public) and IIHM Kolkata (Private). I researched some more and found out the course fees, what subjects will be taught and how do I get in. I gave a Common Entrance Test and got ranked amongst the top 200 students in India. I wanted to get in IHM Kolkata but all those who were ranked from 150-200 were admitted in the IHM Bhubaneswar branch. So I got into IHM Bhubaneswar and had to relocate.

My Initial Days of Hotel Management at IHM Bhubaneswar

Finding a place to stay and food wasn’t that big of a deal as the college was providing us with hostels inside the campus with a certain sum of money. Of course, you could chose not to stay there and get a flat or PG for yourself outside. However, I chose to stay in, as I wanted to get the hostel experience.
The first meeting was good, the city was new, a lot of places to explore, new faces everywhere, and it was very exciting.  With the oncoming of The Fresher’s Party, the first semester kicked off with a bang and honestly it felt great.

But with a few months in, it all come down really bad due to the pressure of the rigorous course plus the ragging from the seniors felt very overwhelming and too much to take. Although, I got used to it but little did I know something worse was waiting for me there. Time flew away swiftly and I was in the 2nd year of my study. I had returned back from Kolkata after completing my Industrial Training (Internship for Hotel Management Students) from J.W.Marriott in Kolkata.

Oncoming of Cyclone Fani in 2019

There was an Orange Alert of Cyclone Fani on 22nd April, 2019. I didn’t pay much heed to it as I didn’t want to go back to Kolkata just yet while most of my friends already had booked their tickets back home. On 26th, the cyclone hit and it didn’t even feel like one. The first day went very smooth. I had resourced up on Chips, Noodles, Biscuits, Water and everything that I could get my hands on from the local shops with little hope of using up all of them.

When I woke up, the next day, I found my feet drenched up till my knees as the whole room was flooded with muddy water with bits of leaves and branches. I went out only to find that the whole lobby outside my room was in the same state. The winds gushing up and down, trees getting uprooted and flying away in the air. I went up to the roof and felt like the world was coming to an end and some kind of apocalypse had begun. I could barely manage to stand up against the wind. I saw the glass panels from the nearest Metro Central flying up and crashing on our roof so I quickly came back down.

For the next couple of days it was the same but it was very troublesome for me as most of the food that I had saved up was almost coming to an end. I needed food and I needed water. By that time, all the students in the hotel had either went back to Kolkata or gone back to their families or shifted to nearby cities for the time. Even the warden had left the city.

how Cyclone Fani forced me to drop out of college
Image Source: Hindustan Times

Surviving Cyclone Fani By Myself

I was completely alone without money, without food, without water, without electricity. After the storm subsided, I travelled out to nearby hospitals and restaurants to ask for some food and water. As the main power grid of the city was blown, the ATMs were of no use and the banks were all closed so no money could be transacted.

It looked like we had gone back to the primitive Jurassic age. In the night, it would get so dark; I couldn’t even manage to buy some candles as I had no money with me. I would wait up till 2-3 O clock in the night to switch on my mobile phone to connect with my home as that was the only time I could catch a signal bar. Imagine a person like me, who would generally put their phones on charge twice or thrice daily for excessive usage, had to survive with 5% charge for over a week.

Things were so bad; people started stealing generators from houses. Stalls were setup and they would charge you 100 rupees for charging up your phone for half an hour. One day I hitch hiked to Puri to take a bath in the sea which took me total 8 hours as it was approx. 140 kilometers up and down. It was a very tragic adventure and I just kept surviving somehow without knowing how. I guess the adrenaline kicked in and kept me alive out there.

The Ray Of Hope

One evening, I saw a bike coming around the hostel and I got curious to know who it was as no stranger would come near the hostel for it was located a significant distance inside the college campus. I found out that he was a friend of a friend of a friend of mom’s colleague in her office. He had come all the way from Cuttack to give me some money and food. I was amazed and thanked him a lot, he was like a savior. It felt like humanity was still alive but not for long.

The next day I went to the bus stand to book a bus back home with the only money that guy gave me. I was so happy about the fact that I finally would be able to go back home that I went back, packed my bags and arrived at the bus depot later that evening. My bus was supposed to arrive at 12 midnight but I went there at 8o clock and spent the rest of the time there.

The Betrayal

I kept waiting and waiting but the bus didn’t come. Time flew by and it was 1:30 am yet my bus didn’t show up. After waiting for 30 minutes more, I went to the same stall I had booked the ticket from and asked about the delay. There was a different guy this time and he told me that the ticket I had was a fake one and the bus had already left the earlier day.

I went in shock, I felt betrayed, broken, robbed off of the last of my money along with all the left bits of my sanity and I burst out in tears as I couldn’t take it anymore. What more could I do? I had no food, no water, no money, no electricity, no charge in my phone, no communication with anyone I know and no hope. I went back to my hostel with tears in my eyes and probably stayed up the whole night on the roof contemplating life.

The Rescue

On the 4th of May, I was lying down on my bed in the night trying to save the rest of my strength when I heard a voice calling out to me. It sounded like the voice of my mom, but I couldn’t believe my senses. I got up and looked outside the window and there she was standing asking me to get ready and so I did.

She came to Bhubaneswar with her colleague and literally rescued me. We got back by bus the following day as there were no other travelling sources. Everything had been shut down. Once I returned, I knew I was never going back and thus I became a drop out.

The Introspection Phase – Decision to Drop Out of College

After returning I spent quite some days trying to get back to my normal life. There were a lot of quarrels and I had to face a hard time giving answers to my family about my decision. I felt lost and constantly wondered what I could do further.

But I was a changed person then and I knew I had to do something and couldn’t just leave my studies like that. I started researching and wanted to take up something on English Language and Literature. I researched more and found out about Media Science which is the broader aspect of Mass Communication & Journalism. I had grown up watching a lot of cartoon on television and always wondered how they were made. I realized this might be a potential field of study for my future.

I made up my mind and went for it as I saw interesting subjects, plus a friend was already studying the course and had recommended me the same. I got into George College in September 2019 and right now I am in the Final year taking up a specialization in Graphic Designing.

Transforming as a Drop Out of College

I still think about those days and ponder upon the thought of how things would have been if I had returned and completed the course but I don’t regret any of the decisions I have made or the life I am living right now. I am working as a graphics designer and video editor for almost 2 years now and I am happy with the work that I do.

A lot of my friends and relatives still mock me for leaving the course in the 2nd year where I had already secured an internship with placement offers but I wonder would they have done anything different if they had been in my shoes in that place, at that time? My mother knows what I went through and she never asked me twice about my decision. She has always supported me throughout my journey and I am grateful to have someone like her as my mother.

That experience changed and transformed me as a person, I found new values and I took back a lot from my time there and the memories I created hit me the most when I find myself awake on sleepless nights, contemplating life on the roof.

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