The Most Surprising Photos of 2013

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While the culture of social media did its best to ensure that 2013 had its fair share of entertaining, surprising and, above all, shareable photo moments, ultimately the past twelve months included as many genuinely shocking as surprising pictures. The year left us in varying states of outrage, bewilderment, bemusement and astonishment.

But there were some wonderfully unexpected and unusual images—a shark inside a shark and selfies with the Pope to a bear on a tightrope and a bundle of baby pandas—that delighted, enthralled and distracted us. Here, LightBox looks back over the past twelve months and presents a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors—and which, we trust, maintain their ability to utterly, thoroughly surprise.

Phil Bicker is a senior photo editor at TIME.

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Term 5 is done and dusted.

Time, time, time.. you’re running, no – sprinting! You’re determined to pass me by and make me want to enjoy the remainder of these two beautiful years at MICA even more (if that was possible). And alas, term V has come to an end as well. This term-end has made me realise so many things, but importantly, I’ve realised that I’ve forgotten to document my learnings from the last term!

Before I forget anything else, I think I should get down to writing it down, NOW : 

Two years – you’d think that was a long time. But it’s just not enough for a place like MICA. Between the time that you’re getting to know your seniors and trying to remember the names of your juniors, you realise it’s time to go. Relish this time. That’s what MICA taught me this term. Well, sure, I attended two great account planning workshops, won an inter-collegiate table-tennis tournament, had a total blast organising quizzes on various topics and generally had fun, but MICA this term was just another lesson in the temporality of the whole experience. 

I entered the gates to this campus at the beginning of these two years with a special greed – a greed to make the most of these two years, to try out as many things as I wanted to – sports, cultural activities, academics, quizzing, international cinema and more than that, sharing that experience with like-minded people. This place truly brought out the best in me. And one of the greatest bits about living in a residential college like MICA was really really getting to know yourself. That’s the good part of living in such a diverse mix of people, your natural differentiators come to the fore and you can really appreciate yourself for what you truly are. Of course, there is also the risk of wanting to blend in and mimic people around you, just to be part of the ‘crowd’ – whatever you choose, it teaches you a lot about yourself and I am glad that I had that experience. 

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Learning about myself, learning about relationships. It’s a small, cozy campus. At the beginning of the course, I had made a mental note to go to every single birthday dunking of my batch-mates. I tried to stick to it as much as I could and attended quite a few midnight birthday dunkings in the first year, but slowly that stopped. It was not out of dislike or laziness, I guess I just realised proximity does not mean closeness. I managed to live with that, and accept it. 

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This term also made me value integrity and to value people who stand for something. There were many situations where I saw people around me behave contrary to themselves. It was extremely unsettling to see people who I had known for quite some time give in to things they were oblivious to in the beginning. But in the end, I came to know and appreciate people who knew what they were doing and stuck to their guns even when times were bad. In hindsight, this term at MICA was really a big course of people skills and appreciation. 

As I look forward to beginning my last term at MICA in a week, I will try and treat every new day as a chance to explore this place and the people associated with it even better. There are so many things unsaid, unseen. Some days seem to contain infinities in them and then suddenly, two years seem like a blur. 

As I read somewhere –

Some infinities are greater than other infinities.

Looking forward, MICA 🙂