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Hitchhiker’s guide to surviving a year at IBAB

Tejashwini Alalamath

Don’t panic, you will be alright! The first rule to remember is, IBAB is an institute and not a college. With around 100 post-graduate students at any given time, it is a small world unto itself and you can really get to know everyone. When I stepped into the lush IBAB campus for the first time, I never imagined that this place would become home, in the true sense of the word, for the next two years.

Coming from the comforts of home to a hostel was tough. The first lesson I learnt was that I am the  only person who can take care of myself; classmates and friends can only help to a certain extent.  The hostel has a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles. I learnt if not  adjustment then endurance and different ways to tackle situations. IBAB also provided an environment where I could learn from my peer group in much greater depth than I would in a college.

The coursework is intense and challenging; yet, it brings out the best in you! Never-ending assignments, tests, internals… It feels like there is always so much more to learn, remember, do, and  no matter the umpteen number of early morning and late-night studies, there are moments of despair.  However, at the end of the day, it is worth it. The most important lesson I have learned from IBAB is how to fail. It is not really about failing, it is about how I approach it, how I bounce back from it, and most important of all, what I learn from it. IBAB provides us with an opportunity to transform our lives, the question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are brave enough to grab this opportunity. Aligning myself to what this place has to offer seemed an uphill task: when I first arrived, I found myself voicing Marvin the paranoid android constantly. But once I let go and believed in myself, I received all the help to do my very best.  To make an Institute out of a building requires a very special set of people and IBAB has the best! The faculty go above and beyond to ensure that concepts are learnt, and that students become thinkers, not just followers. They explain the nuances of research with such emphasis that I began appreciating science all over again. I have learnt not just ‘biotechnology and bioinformatics’ but skillsets essential to do good science whether in the industry or in academia. IBAB has truly prepared me for the real world. Once you are aboard this spacecraft, the ride will be better than that of the ‘Heart of Gold’ spacecraft. 

There are quite a few interesting places to visit outside this world, which will come in later parts of the  guide. Until then, you can think about the ultimate question you want to ask and the answer may or may not be… 42! I am not yet ready to look at all the cherishable memories I have made over the past year but I am sure when I will sum it up, it will be quite a lot. After all, the best restaurant is at the end of the Universe.


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