You grow up really fast when you leave home to go to college in another city — especially if that other city is Mumbai.
We spoke to students from other parts of the country who’ve made Mumbai their home. Their biggest issues, it turned out, were roti, kapda, makaan.
Accommodation topped the list of problems, with most students not realising just how expensive Mumbai real-estate would be.
Money in general was a problem, with some youngsters giving up campus time and college festivals so they could take on paid internships and some found picking up the local culture a challenge.
Some students felt out of place based mainly on how different their wardrobe looked; others were confounded by the sheer mayhem own the streets and were left asking themselves, why does a city need so many restaurants? (To be honest, that’s something we ask ourselves all the time too).
Here’s a look at how they tackled the differences and settled in.
‘After a rough start, I am learning and earning’
“I soon realised that people here were more modern than I had realised.”
I came to Mumbai from Bhopal because I wanted to spend these years among modern youngsters. I soon realised that people here were more modern than I had realised.
On the first day of college, I felt everything I was wearing was wrong. Gradually this feeling faded and I realised there was nothing wrong with my kurtis. That I didn’t need to make changes to my attire. I just had to be more confident.
At first, this caused a serious identity crisis in me. Did I really belong here? Did I make the right decision in leaving home and coming to Mumbai?
But with time, I learnt how to deal with the city. In Mumbai, I learnt to speak up.
I am now earning from internships, footing some of my expenses and feeling proud about it. I am getting the work experience and life experience I came here for, which I would not have got if I had stayed back in Bhopal.
And I am repaying my parents for all the faith and effort they invested in helping me get here.
‘I swapped fests for internships’
“The biggest shock was the massive cost of housing in the city. Even a tiny room was so expensive.”
Coming from Patna, I was dazzled by this city. Its streets and colleges and lifestyle really were as seen in the Bollywood movies. After spending over a year here, I feel that the educational standards are not that much higher than back home, but you get practical experience, work experience and life experience here.
For me, the biggest shock was the massive cost of housing in the city. Even a tiny room was so expensive that I questioned my decision to come to Mumbai.
I had to skip some of the best colleges because they were in South Mumbai and I could not afford even a hostel room there. I had to revise my list and retain only those colleges that had their own hostels.
I also had to give up my dream of becoming popular in college by participating in various college activities and inter-college festivals. I devoted time to internships instead, because that brought in money to add to my allowance, and provided industry exposure to me — which was the main reason I had chosen Mumbai over other cities at the first place.
‘I absolutely love the city now’
Prarthna Nanda, 20, Kanpur
Relying on the safety that Mumbai offered to girls, I came here from Kanpur in 2015. I did not realise that everything would be a struggle — from travelling over long distances to secure admission, to dealing with brokers and trying to find accommodation.
I had wanted to stay in a hostel, but my college didn’t have one. While there are some hostels run by trusts, there is no such Trust for a Punjabi from UP.
I finally got Paying Guest (PG) accommodation and thought I had signed a lease for four months, but when I needed to head home at the end of the semester, the landlord said I had to pay one month’s notice for leaving early — my lease had been filed for 12 months instead. I felt so cheated. Then one day, a guy followed me at a train station, and I started to wonder if Mumbai really was all that safe.
But then, the people, places and police here have helped me settle in. I’ve learnt to adjust to the city and let Mumbai’s vibe sink in. I absolutely love the city now .
‘Food, language take some getting used to’
“I never imagined that small distance would take an hour and Rs 75 one way! This is a big hit on my limited pocket money.”
I chose ICFAI Business School (IBS) Mumbai over IBS Hyderabad because of the better job prospects in the financial capital. I arrived from Jaipur in June. Unable to find a house on rent, I stayed at a friend’s place about 10 km from my college.
I never imagined that small distance would take an hour and Rs 75 one way! This is a big hit on my limited pocket money and I’m still house-hunting because landlords don’t like to rent to bachelors. Commuting on public transport, too, can be confusing. I once reached a wrong stop on a BEST bus and had to walk four kilometres to reach my destination taking two other buses.
Food has been another big change. I have managed to adjust to Mumbai’s relatively sweet food against the super-spicy food I am used to back home. There is some groupism at college because some prefer to speak in Marathi and I don’t know that language. All in all, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, but I’m learning.
‘Not sure if I’ve adjusted successfully’
“I got used to the long distances, local train and crowd, but I had to try really hard and I am still not sure if I’ve succeeded to adjust here.”
After the confusing admission process, the infamous property brokers made the house hunting process a complete nightmare. They do not provide you with the correct specifications of the houses and manipulate you to take the unsuitable deal. But what surprised me more was the culture and the lifestyle here. It is completely different from other parts of India. Yes, I got used to the long distances, local train and crowd, but I had to try really hard and I am still not sure if I’ve succeeded to adjust here. People are not as friendly as the people at smaller places, may be because everyone is more focused and minds their own business. But I have learnt to deal with it.
This is the first time I have lived without my parents and there are times when I feel homesick, but I have my friends and cousins in the city to help me out. One thing I have learnt from my experiences here is that, you just need to be mentally prepared to make the most out of this city.