Campus: ACJ is located at a god forsaken place called Taramani or ‘Tharamani’ as the Tamils spell it, If you are not from Chennai (like most students) the feeling you get while searching for this place is, ‘My god I am stuck here for one year of my life’. At the end of the year tough, you realise that this was the best time of your life. ACJ guarantees that.
The new campus is small but very pretty! Two white buildings standing opposite to each other, one of therm is the college building and across is the hostel. There is a common hostel for men and women (Yes! You read it right). There is a mess, a mini fishing pond, a table tennis and badminton court inside the campus. You spot deer in the campus early morning. A lot of enthusiasts taking pictures in the morning instead of attending lectures!
The college has state of the art equipment. It boasts an amazing TV and Radio studio complete with state of the art recording rooms and cameras. If you are a TV student you would be threatened at least twice every day that if you harm the camera in any way you would have to pay for it (some obscene amount!). The understanding is it’s ok to die while shooting, but you are in trouble if your camera gets as much as a scratch!
There are computer labs on first two floors used by the Print and New Media students. You have computer technicians till 9 pm in the night every night and so you can harass them to fix your laptops etc.
The passages of each floors are big and thus you can easily spot people sleeping, dancing, brushing(!!), eating in the hostel rooms and can have a lot of fun at others’ expense! But you are in their shoes too more than often!
Courses: ACJ offers a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism in four specialisations namely, Print, New Media (Online Journalism), Radio and Television. There is unspoken hierarchy which comes in the play (No one takes it seriously though).The Television and Print people are considered the ‘bourgeois’ of the lot while the New Media and Radio population constitute to the humble, ‘proletariat’.Amen.
At ACJ you would hear these terms thrown very loosely around you .But the best part is all the specialisations here, whichever you choose or get are cool. You feel daunted by the ‘intellectuals’ surrounding you.
In addition to the totally ‘Hi Fundu’ lectures on the second floor, taken by guest faculty throwing in fancy names like Marx and Foucault there would be Covering Deprivation and Investigative Projects and of course your usual course work .The course structure ensures that you work your ass off these ten months!
By the end of the year you would feel stuffed. Stuffed with knowledge (some of it practical) and of course the experience!
Faculty: The best part about ACJ is the faculty and their quirks! Mr.Sashi Kumar (identified as one of the first faces to come on the Doordarshan) is the chairman of the college .He has a typical ‘Dumbledore’ look with wise eyes, spectacles, white beard and kind smile which plays on his lips. He talks about very fancy stuff like, ‘Fordism and Murdochism’ in his media theories class and you would just want to listen to him go on and on about it just because he sounds so composed and poised!
Each course has a set of teachers, each of whom have their own charm and are brilliant in their own fields. There would be some who would playfully take names of everyone in the class and take you to a crazy, impromptu trip in the neighbourhood. We went on one such trip and ended up frying, pakodas at a strangers place! This is what sets ACJ apart from the other established educational institutes, the fact that it is so unconventional.
You would find them chattering with their students incessantly after the lectures in corridors or singing in huge baritones in canteen while students throng around them!
Crowd: One could go on about the crowd! First of all, you cannot, not have the attitude of ACJ while you are here. Their is a typical, ‘we are intellectuals, above from the rest’ attitude which every Acjite has or acquires in the due course. The fact that you were selected to be a part of ACJ is a proof enough that you are a cut above the rest, at least that’s what everyone feels here.
Most of the people here are dirty rich and the rest are the crazy mavericks, the philosophers, poets, fashion bloggers, activists, sport freaks just name the category and would find their representation in ACJ. But all, all of them are intellectuals in the end! Some do have substance !!!
It is an experience in itself to stay in the hostel with such diverse people surrounding you ,not one day is uneventful, I tell you!
Food: Not much can be said about the food here. It is terrible. The rubbery chapatis, insipid dal, and sour buttermilk are served here. You end up ordering pizza most of the times, burning a huge hole in your pocket. There is a ‘shady market’ on the backside of the campus. One has to embark on this journey to reach there amidst the marsh, cattle and darkness. You get Maggi, eggs, milk and coffee here. You can survive on these things provided people don’t steal your food from the common fridge!
Final Verdict If you get a chance to go to ACJ please do not hesitate go, these 10 months would change your perspective towards looking at life forever (there is no exaggeration in this statement).
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