A ‘dropout’s’ series of unfortunate events and DÉJÀ VU’S

It wasn’t the first-day jitters making me nervous, I was nervous because I was going back after a year to start again, for a new beginning. I have to admit that Thames and I, we share a weird connection. I remember I came here the very first time when I was in grade IX for an art competition. I didn’t even bother to register the latter half of the college’s name and all I knew was just ‘Thames’. As I walked out of those gates post the competition that day, I thought this chapter ends here. Life went on; I completed my SLC and soon completed my A-Levels. Post-A-Levels I was all set to leave abroad but without an equivalence certificate I couldn’t do so and this reason held me back.

I did A Levels instead of +2. Because A Levels is a UK-based academic course, students in Nepal need to get an equivalence certificate from the Ministry of Education in Nepal proving that the qualification of a +2 graduate and an A Level graduate is equal or similar. Now the minimum credit requirement in Nepal is of 3.5 credit score (where, Point 1 suggests a completed 2-year course and point .5 suggests a completed 1-year course). This information was not told to me or students from my class by the college where I studied in so, we only knew that we had to get 3.5 but we were unaware of the ‘required criteria’ which was 1+1+1+.5 of that 3.5 credit score. Due to this miscommunication from the college’s side, I got a 3.5 credit which was ineligible because i had only two subjects with point 1 credit score (Sociology and Psychology) and three subjects with .5 credit score (English Language, Environment and General Paper). Hence, my 3.5 was still ineligible.

Of course, I do blame the college but blaming it won’t bring my lost year back, will it? At the time, however, I was terrified of the thought of having to lose a year because people around me said, “Losing a year means either you’ve failed an exam or you got kicked out of school and so, you will not get to study in a good institute and eventually you will witness your life falling apart and crumbling into nothingness.” However, that wasn’t what had happened to me, i didn’t fail any exam nor did i get kicked out of school. It was and still is difficult to explain to people about my complicated situation. Honestly, the fact that neither the UK system nor the USA’s system had a problem with my version of the 3.5 credit count but it was Nepal’s educational system that didn’t accept my credit count was hilarious. I was stuck because without the equivalence certificate from Nepal I couldn’t get a student visa and despite having acceptance from foreign universities I still couldn’t go.

Since I had to avoid a gap year, I started looking for colleges and coincidentally some relatives recommended me Thames. I came here, did my admission, and classes began after the orientation week. It was late November 2018 back then. Time went by so quickly that I didn’t even realize a month had almost passed. It was mid-December 2018 when the forms for BA registration got distributed. The same problem came back, because even to register as a Bachelors’s student in Nepal i needed an equivalence certificate and so I couldn’t register. There was no point studying here at Thames if at the end of it all I couldn’t even give the exam. I decided it was best for me to leave so I dropped out officially before Christmas 2018.

I had to lose a year and now I was officially a dropout. Two things I feared the most happened one after the other, it was 5 days before New Year. I remember as I left Thames that day, I took the wrong bus deliberately and just reflected on my life, the situation I was in, and had the thought ‘So…this new year is going to be the worst one… Can this get any worse?… God if you’ve got some more pain and misfortune in my account then just throw it at me now…I might as well go through it all at once. That day sitting on the window side in ‘Sajha Yatayat’ I saw people, roads, street animals, and buildings passing by. I felt so helpless and numb as if nothing mattered anymore.

Having always been a control freak, at the time I felt like I had no control over anything, I didn’t have a plan for the first time in a long time. I worked at getting my documentation complete that gap year, had to give few extra exams to get that equivalence certificate from TU. After getting a credit count “the way Nepal’s education board wanted”,  I finally got that stupid certificate. I eventually didn’t end up applying abroad due to the fear of losing one more year because giving IELTS and applying to college and visa processing and stuff would roughly take up that much time. A year had almost passed and I didn’t want two gap years in a row. So, I came back to Thames, I did my admission again the very month and soon the orientation week happened followed by the first week of classes. It was Dec 9, 2019, and I was back in Thames and it felt like a resurrection.

It felt good though, to see familiar faces between the new ones, of friends I had made last year Iva, Bipin, and Hassan, my first set of friends. Déjà Vu’s became vivid, so vivid that at times I got confused with people, classes, and timings. The funniest thing was to see confusion in the faces of people, especially teachers in the first week of classes when they saw me. I got a lot of questions usually similar ones like, “Do I know you from somewhere?” “Have we met before?” Your face looks familiar. Sometimes I told the truth and explained the entire story but at times I just played along confusing them even more. I’m sorry teachers for messing with you but you have to admit it that later when you realized, it was pretty funny.

This time I took BASOC instead of BJM as I did not want to look into that dark void of 2018 again and again. However, I guess destiny noticed me outsmarting it so journalism became a compulsory subject I had to take. I was trying to avoid and run away from the experiences of last year but I guess I didn’t run fast enough because i got dragged back once again from where I had left. Today, i can say that I’m glad that I got dragged back to BJM because I met some incredible people, my amazing BJM classmates, and Sangit (Pradhananga) sir. Coming back after a year to the same place, I had a lot of anxiety so I always left early from class and came early to class, I was always anxious, stressed out and drained. I had planned to distance myself from humans altogether but destiny again had different plans for me. As a result of being the only student in BASOC course, my classes got merged with BJM and BSW. I then began jumping in and out of classes, socializing more than I had ever intended, and eventually became the common ‘accepted outcast’ of BJM and BSW.

Both groups were very warm to me but there can be no other like my BJM mates. Thanks to Sujan (Kayastha) sir for being there supporting me since 2018 and thanks to Surendra (Malla) sir for bearing my questions, my confusions, and me all together since then till now. Due to dropping out and re-joining classes, I became the only hybrid student who got to be a part of Nasala maám’s first and second batch she taught. My memory of my second time “First week at Thames” felt like a ‘That’s so Raven’ episode. It was weird because the deja vus made me feel like I knew what was going to happen next, like I had time travelled and was now able to undo the mistakes I did the last time. This was the closest i got to being Dr. Strange with the time stone irritating the shit out of Dormammu.

Yes, I lost a year. Yes, it sucked! but I do feel that not many people get this chance of reliving moments and changing things up, I got that chance and I’m glad to tell you, I think I’ve done pretty good.

Social Media: Sneha Dahal- (Insta: @khoikunikho, Fb:@khoikunikho)

Read other reflection articles by Sneha: (http://reflections.thamescollege.edu.np/?s=Sneha+Dahal)

Read Sneha’s Kathmandu Post articles: https://kathmandupost.com/author/sneha-dahal

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