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Coping with life abroad

UZMA HYDER

While most students dream of studying abroad, not many are aware of what they are up against. Here, a few youngsters share their views.



TALK TIME: Experience of other students matters.

UNIVERSITIES ABROAD promise an education that many a student dreams of. One that will stimulate intellectual growth and reward the intellect. Lured by the possibilities of an enriching education, students leave home to study abroad. Once there, the real experience begins, the student is alone to face the world; all dependence ceases to exist as the family that pampers is across the ocean. Indeed, students come to get a formal education but in the process of living by themselves also learn of the exigencies of life.

In a university where there is opportunity at every corner, the Indian student is at first in awe. "It's like a whole new world," says Varun who studies at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, "I was blown seeing the facilities available." With the availability of myriad opportunities ahead, students realise that all their dreams can come true. There are an endless variety of courses to choose from; professors hold interactive classes that are supported by state-of-the-art technology. "Not only that, there is also research funding offered by corporates to students," say Uttam Reddy, who studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, "there is no limit to anything you can achieve."

There is truly tremendous growth of the individual as the inexperienced student now lives on his own and interacts with people from all walks of life. Universities abroad have a kaleidoscope of students with different national and ethnic backgrounds. This melting pot of cultures provides for immense exposure. Due to the rapid westernisation of the Indian teenager, the once famous culture shock is now passé. The youngster is now a global citizen who greatly enjoys interacting with his peers from other nations. Says Deepika Reddy studying in the U.K., "it is quite rewarding living in such a multicultural environment."

Living by oneself is not only a learning process but is a lot of fun as well. Hard work through the week and relaxing over the weekend is the way the agenda goes. There are, of course, no rules to bind the fun. As Varun says, "I can sleep whenever I want." However, this freedom without parental supervision brings about a sense of responsibility, "instead of parents nagging, you have to nag your inner self all the time," he says. Samira Raj, a student in the University of Nottingham, says, "you have to look out for yourself and that automatically makes you more responsible." Especially since students' finances are under their own control, they learn to live practically and sensibly. Samira adds, "you are answerable only to yourself," and with that knowledge comes the ever-essential maturity.



STUDY HOURS: Being studious pays off. — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

The levels of confidence increase a great deal when all the practicalities of life are met by the students themselves — earning, spending, cleaning and for some, the most tiresome, cooking. Unless the student is fond of dabbling inthe gourmet's art, cooking can be quite a troublesome task. A necessary task, as eating out can get quite monotonous. Says Uttam, "I can't cook for nuts, but I try concocting something in order to survive."

Indeed, between balancing the cooking, cleaning, spending and studying, the youngster is on his way to becoming a mature adult. "This place makes a man of you," Uttam adds. Deepika resonates the same belief — "the main thing is you become more self-dependent and confident."

Living away from home is truly a growing process. For most students, the most difficult thing in this whole process of emotional evolution is to handle the feeling of nostalgia that one has for home. Most students just delve into their studies and work their blues away, whilst some others take on part time work on campus. It is all serious work and those who thought that education abroad is just a joy ride are bound to be surprised when they get there.

In this sea of endless opportunity, the diligent Indian student often wins accolades. Apart from the sense of achievement that doing well endows, students also feel a trifle sad, as Samira says, "that's because the people you want to share it with are not around." There is, of course, tremendous growth of the intellect but from the nostalgia, it is evident the heart lies at home.

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