Life in Manipal University can be really tough sometimes, away from your family and the 17 odd years of support structure that you had back home, it’s easy to feel completely alone. Often, we see our room-mate, college mate or a casual acquaintance in college having a bad day. Perhaps many a times we’ve felt uncomfortable asking them if they’re okay or if they want to talk and have tried to look the other way. I’ve been through this phase in my MBBS days at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum and have tried to look the other way to avoid getting entangled in personal matters of colleagues.
But in later years at college, I realised that it’s really important to create a sense of community in college, be it Medical school or in Engineering colleges or for that matter in any residential teaching institute. No one knows the struggle of anatomy and placement and patients as well as we as medical students do. No one knows the struggle of the chemistry/physics/mathematics cycles as well as engineering students do.
How do you perk up a colleague who feels down, who feels lonely, who feels that he’s fighting the system alone and on his own?I do not know the answers to all these things, what I do know is that my colleagues across my college years did these little things that helped me when I’ve been down.
These are the things I remember and honestly, these are the reasons I did not quite Medical school when I felt there was no way out. I guess the cliché, “small actions make all the difference” does have some value to it.
1. Wave your friend and take him/her out for a cup of coffee!
Psychologically, nothing can replace a cup of caffeine, it is equal to saying ‘Dude! I’m here for you!’. Of course, the main point is that you can have a chat with your struggling colleague over the cup of coffee. Do listen to him/her and try to read between the lines to assess whether your friend might need any additional help!
2. Bad jokes.
And I mean really, really bad jokes. Example: Have you heard about the movie Intussusception? It’s about a bowel within a bowel within a bowel.
3. Text messages and instant messaging.
Start forwarding some cool insightful messages, they don’t have to be deep and meaningful. When I was in college, I remember spending half an hour arguing with a colleague over SMS one evening. The topic was something as trivial as, if I recall it correctly, ‘what would my colleague make me do If I was his student at a medical college’! The result of this discussion over the messaging system, worked me up so much that I forgot about my problems for a while and felt better about my own capabilities.
If you’re assigned to a group for a project, do the work! There’s nothing more insulting than doing work for your colleagues, while they have no intention of reciprocating.
5. Birthday cake.
There is something about birthdays and cakes. Or for that matter cakes. Everyone loves them and they seem to instantly bring cheer on any individuals face! They don’t take long to make (if you do not have the facilities, order one!), and a round of ‘happy birthday’ can brighten anyone’s day. And there’s sugar involved.
6.Acknowledge their existence.
We do not and cannot know everyone in our batch, forget the college. But if you recognise them, say hi. Ask them how they are and how they’re finding the course. A quick discussion might brighten their day.
This is a truth each one of us must realise sooner than later! After you finish your course, no one really cares what marks you got! No patient of yours is going to ask you whether you scored a gold medal, no client is going to wonder why you scored such low marks. All they want is that you cure them of their illness, or build them a software that is competitive and without bugs. So, if you stumble across a great website or textbook, let your colleagues know.
Smiles are universal, and contagious. Hospitals can be sad places, so cheer is always welcome. And it makes you seem friendly and approachable, and interpersonal skills are what will make you a good doctor. And as an Engineer, it is not your ability to define all the theories you’ve learnt while studying aerodynamics but how you convince your clients is what matters in the end.
Now, after you finish with this article, I ask you take up a simple challenge. Do one nice thing for a colleague at the college tomorrow. Let me know what you did and how you felt afterwards. Let me know what your friend thought of it. Maybe your deed will help me cheer up a friend of mine!
Let’s recharge the culture of Manipal. Let’s start a revolution and foster a sense of community.