Campus Story Before Covid-19 | Purvai

XIMB

Legacy Trip! That’s a word every First-Year student hears right from the first week into college. But it is an experience, the anticipation of which is what gets every Second-Year student through his/her final year. The sheer joy of thinking about your legacy trip is unparalleled.

I am from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) and the word Legacy Trip is not alien to anyone who has ever been associated with us Ximbians. To explain it in short- it’s a trip taken with your friends after final exams and before convocation, usually in the month of March.

The year was 2019 and I was in my final year. Having been placed, there were not enough 8 am lectures that could force me to get up early. I had adorable friends, most of them like me… placed. Campus was buzzing with the upcoming College Fest. Slight winter had set in and the late-night walks with chai in hand was the perfect setting. The talks went up to the wee hours of morning, late lunches were the order of the day. Life was good!

So, when October rolled in, it brought with it the meetings about the planning of our Legacy Trip. Many ideas were tossed around from Andamans to Ooty to Shimla and Ladakh. But to get 11 people to agree to one idea is like getting that perfect colour in Titration- nearly impossible! After a lot of back and forth, keeping in mind the financial restrictions and dates, the group finally agreed. A week in Bangkok. Seriously! Does it get better than this?

So, by the time November knocked on our doors, all our tickets were booked, hotel deals sorted and transport woes dealt with. We had actually moved onto step 2- updating our wardrobe.

Our excitement was as high as a Giant Wheel and maybe even higher. With the number of days between us and our legacy trip decreasing, this was the only thing occupying our minds. We didn’t even realise when exams crept up behind us and only when the timetable shouted ‘peekaboo’ did we start to panic. But even exam season was nostalgic because these were the last exams we were giving and slowly everything we did had a ‘last time’ twang to it. But through it all, our only hope was going together for the legacy trip.

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Little did we know that happiness isn’t so easy to achieve. We hadn’t even finished our exams when the news about Covid-19 rolled in and filled all the newspapers and channels. It wasn’t just something China was dealing with. Now, it was spreading and the countries were starting to go into lockdown. Airlines were postponing flights. Hotels were cancelling bookings. Everyone’s parents were asking them to finish exams and come home as soon as possible. It was serious.

And right before our eyes, our dream was shattered. We couldn’t go anymore. And just like that, our legacy trip was cancelled. But things were just beginning to go bad. The day after our exams got over, we got a notice from college saying that there would be no convocation in the near future and that we had to evacuate the premises in a week’s time.

We didn’t even get time to mourn the loss. The next few days were gone in a flurry of packing and phone calls from tensed parents and packers and movers. We had to pack up two years of our lives in 2 days and ship the off home because companies had deferred their joining dates. Some had even cancelled the offers. But this still wasn’t the worst.

Two days after the first mail from college, we got another mail that now we had 2 days left to evacuate as cases were starting to be found in the city. Our hearts sank. This wasn’t the ending we deserved. But there was nothing we could do.

But the real problem began when airlines started to cancel flights. The students who were locally residing could just go home. But a lot of students like me had to fly to a different city. It was a mess.

Over the course of the next few days, people started leaving the campus. Some were sending their belongings- packers were regularly visiting the campus. New rules were implemented- we couldn’t leave the grounds and go outside. The mess closed and the remaining students had to rely on Zomato and Swiggy but even they were restricting deliveries.

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Finally, after a lot of last-minute cancellations, I got a flight to my hometown. When I called the cab in the morning, I realised that this wasn’t how I’d thought my two years would end. None of my friends were left on campus, I was one of last few to leave. My roommate had gone home after exams and hadn’t returned and her side of the room was still as set as she kept it while I packed away mine- The room I had lived in for two years. This had been our home away from home. Thus, with a heavy heart, I loaded my bags in the car’s trunk.

And as the college building moved farther away in the rear-view mirror, I promised myself that this wasn’t the goodbye my college life deserved and that when all this is over-, we will return. We will return for one last time and for a proper farewell!

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