It was dark.
The common area lights were on outside my room, but my room was dark. The light from the outside filtered through the tiny window in my door that had been covered up with a piece of paper stating my name and roll number. This was how it was for all the students on the SP Jain Singapore campus. Three floors were classrooms while three other floors were student living accommodations. I lived by myself in a single room in front of the 5th floor common area, from where I’d see everyone and everything passing by. For the first 2 weeks, I had a roommate in a different room, but I had to leave after some issues popped up with him.
Coming from a small city in India, I was overwhelmed with the big city and international culture of Singapore. Types of people I had only seen through the screen before, from all around the world, were in front of me, around me, talking with me. Despite knowing the theory behind it and having seen it on television and in the movies, English was something I never spoke beforehand in my hometown, so even that was a new experience for me. The group of friends I hung out with my first few days weren’t really clicking with me at all.
One day, I went to one of those “friends’” rooms, where I met him. The “friend” I was with looked at him in a spoofy tone and introduced him to me as “a Taylor Swift fan”, and I instantly knew I would get along with him much better than I would with my first “friend” group here. We became friends quickly, hanging out and playing games together, and listening to Taylor and K-Pop together.
He soon introduced me to another one of his close friends. Bespectacled and with hair that was even wilder than mine, she was the first person who beat me in Mario Kart, despite not having played it before at all. I was FUMING. But then I beat her in Smash Bros, so I felt that I got her back, in a sense.
One day I was hanging with him in his room when a bespectacled boy entered the room asking for help with an essay homework we had, and he told me to help the boy instead due to me being better at English related work than him. I did, and then that boy started inviting me to eat at McDonald’s with him at 3 AM every other night for the rest of my Singapore experience. I’m not sure if I cherish those days or hate them due to the huge amounts of junk food I ate.
Soon, my first midterm exams started, and all four of us studied for it, sometimes together and sometimes by ourselves. I basically made a table in the library my home for almost a week. It was scary, but also fun. World Culture especially, where I basically taught half the school with my notes. Now I realize I should’ve sold sessions for that subject instead, but oh well. The midterms went well, and all of us passed with decent grades.
Late that semester, he and I were hanging out with 2 of his other close friends, both girls, with whom the night got really deep, as we talked about our issues with SP Jain, our personal lives and much more. Although I didn’t talk much with them for my first year, they became really good friends of mine in my second year and one of them became one of my best friends a year later.
Despite me not being able to talk as much with those three after going online due to COVID-19 at the end of my second year, and me also slowly becoming closer with some other fellow online friends after all three of them went to the Dubai campus, I am still very grateful to them for my first year. That year was the best year of my life to date. I’m still very good friends with all of them, don’t get me wrong on that, our interactions just decreased due to COVID-19. Thank you so much for being my friends and for bringing me out of my shy shell. Thank you for making me confident enough to approach other people. You were my first set of best friends in college!