“Vaidyo narayano hari”
This is a Sanskrit proverb that says “The physician (doctor) is equal to God”. Indeed, in India atleast, the doctor is treated equal to God (well, almost). There may be all sorts of incidents of physical attacks or such on doctors, but these do not show the lack of respect for doctors, it only shows the expectations of people from doctors and their frustration when these aren’t fulfilled. Lakhs of students dream of becoming a doctor since the beginning of their childhood. Many others take up this profession not because of their own interest but due to insisting, coercion or even force from family members (mostly in the “doctor families”). Some take it as a casual choice of career. Whatever the reason might be for the choosing of this profession, getting into it is not easy in any part of the world, but especially in India. In India, two things can get you into a medical college- hardwork or money.
As unfair as it might seem but it’s the harsh reality. It’s not totally unfair too, a medical college is not a very economical institution to run. It is said that the college has to spend lakhs of rupees on each student (though once you come into the college you start to wonder where the money is being spent). Those students who have gained admission on the basis of merit are supposed to pay significantly less fee than those merely on the basis of “donation”. Those who’ve entered by merit always have the good feeling that it is as if they’ve “earned” that huge amount that others have said to get in.
There is nothing similar between college and school, nothing at all. The enormous area of the campus, the number of different buildings, each housing a separate “department”, the number of people you see around- students in their groups, professors too in groups and numerous other people you wonder why they would be here, the gardens, the trees, the canteen, things that most of us wouldn’t have seen in our schools before- these both baffle the student and at the same time win his admiration. Not just the environment, but the method of working is also different. It would not be exaggerating to say that a student may take the whole of his first year to “settle” in the college- learn how things work, how to do things, who are the “important” people you must know to get things done easily, what to do if you are in trouble, when to worry and when not to worry. This is the case especially for those students who don’t know any other person who has had the experience before (like me). It is extremely important that the new students make as much contacts as possible so that they always have the right person if they have to ask anything.
According to MCI rules, there shall be no classes in the first month of the college. There shall be an “Orientation Programme” in which all the departments of the college introduce themselves. The students are given time to make friends, explore the college and make themselves at home. Though the idea seems good in theory, I didn’t find it of any practical use. If you do manage to make a few friends among 200 students (that’s the class strength in my college), you may have to leave them as the students are rearranged in the alphabetical order of their names and divided into batches as soon as actual studies start. And regarding exploring the college, every student will prefer NOT to do so, thanks to the intimidating looks from seniors. The canteen, library and playground also remain out of reach of the so called “freshers”, for the few initial months of college life. (Of course, all this is based on my experience and the situation may not be the same in every college).
On the whole, the first month of college can be described as an extension of the holidays after 12th, rather semi-holidays where you just in to college for a few hours and do nothing basically. No idea do they have of what they’re gonna be confronted with when they enter the portals of anatomy, biochemistry and physiology.