Preparing for the unforgettable phase of life with Dr. Surbhi Goyal


Lost in a reverie while going through old pictures of my undergraduate studies I realised a lurking fact that a big part of those memories belongs to “hostel-life” unlike the life in IISc where its “Lab-life”. Standing in arduous early morning long bathroom queues, 3 a.m. maggi cooking, crowding a friend’s room for watching horror movies, mid-night birthday celebrations and my personal favourite; full packed TV hall watching India vs “any team” and cheering the team in blue, filled with sweet-sour memories hostel-life is an unforgettable phase which every student goes through once in his/her life. Home is sweet but hostel is independence and amusement, a place to watch, observe, learn and evolve. Dr. Surbhi Goyal writes in her book Hostel-Life – A to Z of Life@Hostel, “When one enters hostel, one is just like the pearl coming out of the oyster. This is almost like a new birth because now one is independent  and must decide for himself/herself.”

Dr Surbhi Goyal is a general physician by profession. She was a medical consultant for nearly a decade and later was a counsellor to students at a premier coaching institute in Kota – the national capital in coaching. During her stint as a counsellor, she came across hundreds of adolescents every day, most of whom were grappling with the complexity of teen-life. She found many of these children lacking the confidence in taking on life independently. This compelled her to pen down her experiences as a counsellor in her book so that she could reach out to a wider audience.Dr. Goyal believes that her book can be a good guide for every student to have a smooth sailing as a hosteller. Dr Goyal emphasises, “Hostel Life is an integral part of student life. Most of the parents either don’t have time or don’t have knowledge to prepare their child mentally as well as physically to face the challenges it accompanies. Once the child comes out of the cosy and comfortable surroundings of their home it becomes very hard for them to fight back the trifle encounters of routine life. So, it is important for each child/student to learn about hostel life.”


Dr. Goyal has been awarded with Woman of Substance award by Times of India, under Student Welfare category. “It has worked as a boost for me to dedicate myself towards benefit of the future of India- The Students”, says Dr Goyal.

About Hostel-Life – A to Z of Life@Hostel 

The book starts with general description of mental state of students before stepping outside the protected premises of “home” and worries surrounding their parents. Dr. Goyal has penned down the primary issue of  getting mentally prepared for independent life ahead, encounter with new people and  hostel blues (homesickness). Intricate relationships of teen-age like friendship, falling in love have been discussed thoroughly. Topics considered as taboo to talk openly such as sexual encounters, infatuation, physical and social abuse have been put into perspective for clear understanding of the reader (teenagers as well as parents). Subsequent sections cover every detail of hostel life from hostel-search to personality development. It is simultaneously surprising and warming to see Dr. Goyal’s thoughtfulness of providing a meticulous list of things necessary during initial period of time when a newcomer enters hostel. Dr. Goyal has written distinctly about physical and medical ailments which are common but clench on rendering major health issues if not dealt with properly (for me section on migraine is very helpful). Talking about incidents from her old hostel-days which she recalled while writing the book Dr. Goyal reminisces “I was appointed the wing in-charge of all the rooms on ground floor with my own room in the center. One day I was coming out of a friend’s room after a group chit-chat and I smelt something burning. I knocked at all the rooms to check and even got the locks of two rooms broken to check whether the inmates negligibly left the milk with heater on. But I couldn’t find anything. I yelled and shouted ‘how irresponsible can people be’ and started walking towards my room. As I opened my room there was smoke everywhere as I had left milk on the heater.I felt so ashamed and quit my post that night. One should be capable to handle the responsibilities one is given.”

Hereinafter my interaction with Dr. Surbhi Goyal has been summarised with key points germane to student-life.


Friendship is the most beautiful thing that can happen to anyone in their lifetime. Unconditional love, forgiveness and trust are the key words on which long-term friendship thrives. Accept people as they are, don’t try to change them, is the mantra for true friendship.One sided relationships are very hypothetical, they are as bad as not being there. I don’t think there is any bright side to it. Even if one gets involved, it is never impossible to get out of it. I think I was the lucky one. Of-course I was ragged badly by my seniors as  I had the ‘from Delhi’ tag. But few of my seniors became great friends, so much so that two of them are my best friends now despite being far physically. Seniors play a major role in a student life. If you have good seniors it’s a blessing and if you never had , you be the one.

Personality Development

According to Dr. Goyal all round personality development is necessary for individual-growth of students. Dr. Goyal suggests students should try and discover every aspect of their personality; from acquiring knowledge to being a sports-person.“Not only in the hostel but anywhere at any age I define ‘being cool’ as ‘being yourself’. Never try to ape anyone, each one should realize that he/she is unique, wear what suits them and is comfortable.   Being happy, relaxed and comfortable is ‘being cool’. Copying someone is not a sin but as they say in hindi – ‘nakal mein akal rakho’. Never follow someone blindly.”

Hostel blues and pressure of being  “brilliant”

Hostel blues is almost inevitable after love and pampering of parents at home. Parents have to  prepare their child mentally and physically to face the challenges of life each day. Parents should not be authoritative but friends. This will encourage the child to confide in all the problems and tensions they face on the new surroundings. One of the major reasons of suicides happening in Kota is child losing moral support of his/her parents at a tender age. Each parent should remember the words by Khalil Gibran to parents “Your children are not yours, they are sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts” ( The Prophet).

Smart Student’s handbook, Student Suicides and awareness

Dr. Goyal explaining about Smart student’s handbook says, “Smart student’s handbook is second edition of ‘Hostel life’. It has some new chapters and added points. Its name was changed as publishers realised that it is meant for a larger crowd and not only hostellers. I just hope it reaches the hands for whom I have written it so compassionately- the teenagers. I am sure it can make a little difference in each reader’s life.” Answering to the question about new idea or book in her mind pipeline , Dr. Goyal says, “No new idea right now, I am still working for student suicides in Kota, a lot needs to be done on this issue. Each day I see young students getting lost with this glitzy world, their precious lives getting ruined under the pressure of society, peers and parents. I want them to know their potential and have the guts to draw a life picture of their own and not the one shown by this world . I hope I with my little handy book, would be able to help people and make this world a better place.” Dr Goyal works as a counsellor for students on a government helpline-HOPE. Dr Goyal is also working on Save Innocent Souls (SIS) campaign to increase awareness about rising student suicides, causes and overcoming the challenges. 

Walk -O-Run, 19 Feb 2017; Together…Lets make world a better place

Dr. Surbhi Goyal organised a marathon along with her husband Dr. Saket Goyal, Chief Interventional Cardiologist at Kota Heart Institute, Rajasthan to increase awareness about heart and health. It was a great success with 30,000 participants with nearly 10,000 chidren. Dr. Goyal visited around 15 schools based in Kota for motivating students to participate in “Art of Heart” drawing competition  and explaining them about healthy heart, a journey which she describes – ‘exhilarating’. “The idea was conceived by my husband. It started from just a small walk with 500 people around 4 years back each year it increased. People saw our dedication and started joining us selflessly.” 


EVOLVE EACH DAY- Message to young minds

Dear Friends, 
Never stay stagnant at any cost. Time and circumstances might not be in your favour but instead of trying to emerge as a winner just try to be better than you were yesterday. Each challenge you face is to improve you, never give up. 
Life is beautiful, live each day. Know your calling, don’t get influenced by where the world is going. Relax, find out what you love doing. 
Make your personality such that after 10-15 years of your life you don’t give credit or blame your parents for what you are today. If you are something you feel indebted to them and if you are nothing you blame them. Don’t follow your parents but do learn from them. Take charge of your life. 
Love your parents, stay in touch with your teachers and make a few good friends. Never forget to stay fit and be kind. 
EVOLVE EACH DAY because life is better today when you are better than yesterday.

Dr. Surbhi Goyal

Author: Khushboo Pandey

Ph.D Student, Interdisciplinary Center for Energy Research (ICER), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

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