“Architecture is not a profession it’s a lifestyle”, these words echoed through all the days of the induction week and got more profound over time. When we dream of becoming an architect, we seem to miss the bridge between being a school student and working as an architect. This is a bridge formed from countless submissions, redoes, paper cuts, and viva voices.
The first semester was a wrecking ball to our fantasies of being an architecture student. Instead of going on trips to sites, we were making trips from the campus to stationery stores. Instead of surveying and crowd-sourcing data on outdoor spaces we were analyzing whether Office Mart or Om stationery gives the best sheets for the least price. The importance of certain topics baffled us; drafting sections were taught in five minutes while using a blade to sharpen a pencil or make half cuts were given forty minutes.
Personally, going to a college where Hindi is the first language was a challenge in itself. Communicating with my broken Hindi picked up from soap dramas was comical to anyone. This helped me scrape through some viva voices.
The best memory as an architecture student has left me the deepest scar, literally. After a day out, I was hurrying to head to my room to prepare my assignment. Cycling back to the hostel, I lost balance and flew to land with a thud. Cautiously getting up to make sure nothing was broken, I noticed blood on the road. In my semi-conscious, figured I tore my chin. A trip to AIIMS and five stitches replaced my night of making sheets on perspective studies and views.
Making our first model over-night was the cherry to the top of an eye-opening semester. After class at 6 pm, it was a race against time, rushing out and buying forex sheets. Students called up the shop and asked them to stay open. Back in the room, it was learning how to cut it and glue the materials while assembling them and scaling them to our plan, making all the furniture and painting them.
Being the first on roll came with its own package. For submissions or presentations, they have to be ready no matter what and the quality of their work has to be of good standards. During viva, roll number one has to be present in the classroom till they’re called. By that time, the rest of the class can organize their portfolios or take a quick nap.
As soon as the viva is over, the first student has a new set of friends swarming around them to know the questions and the format of the viva. It is very rare for them to blend in among the students in the class or seem invisible, the professor will notice no matter what. No doubt, the class representatives have it harder. They need an answer to anything the professor asks. If no one has a reason, the CRs have to give one. They are in charge of submissions and are responsible for any mismanagement from the class.
The 2020 pandemic changed everything about the college experience. Packing for a two-week break that extended for almost a year. Students left their stationery along with their devices and had to buy them all over again. Online classes during the pandemic were a first for everyone. Getting up to attend them, but never really getting off the bed. Dozing off to get alert as soon as class ends or your friend calls you to unmute for attendance. The biggest challenge was contemplating between taking notes or screenshots of the class, the ones who could handle both were senpais.
More than the college hours, it was those moments with our seniors that impacted us more. Helping them with their submissions or seeking theirs for ours. Absorbing as much as we can from their thesis and juries. The best was the little treats we received, even if it was cutting chai.
Spontaneous trips with your gang will remain fresh no matter how they age. There will always be that one friend that brings the class to the trip and reminds us of a related lecture. A college trip sounds fun till the students are asked to do a survey or make sketches.
Despite the hard punches of reality checks and sleepless nights, life as an architecture student is one of a kind. A sweet and sour one so carefully balanced like the structures we design. The beauty of it is how everyone learns the same thing but each one expresses it differently.
The bridge formed will be hidden by our experiences when we work and start pursuing higher degrees, but that is what provides a firm foundation. That even if we fall, we won’t break because we have been broken and mended countless times as a student. Sheets were torn and models were broken, making them all over again and moving on is what built us to look back at it all with a smile.