Contemplating enrolling for a course in an Asian university? There are several reasons that will make the time you spend away from home much more fruitful, says Nipa Vaidya.
You’ve gone through the regular grind – met a career counsellor, shortlisted the universities to apply to, spoken to friends (or friends of friends or friends of friends of family/friends) before applying to universities abroad. Most of the times, Indian students have their priority list set just right - the US, UK maybe Australia and then consider universities closer home in Asia.
Though there are no official figures to support the statement one has made above, rest assured it isn’t an ignorant assumption. Anyway, studying in Asia can be a culturally enriching experience, if you learn to appreciate the nuances of various cultures.
Let’s begin with the basics, the advantages of opting for an Asian university (most likely one in Singapore or maybe Hong Kong)
If you intend to save on some mega bucks while you still continue studying abroad, Asia is a safer better considering the highly volatile Rupee-Dollar equation.
You might have had the privilege of either having enrolled for an international board or heard about the benefits of studying in one. If one had to use just two words to describe this experience it would be –less pressure. That’s right though most colleges/universities in the West offer the best courses with the best faculty not all students are in any race to get top grades. However, competition is an integral part of our continent’s culture. Thus you do continue to strive to excel and do not get complacent.
Temples, festivals and celebrations are quite similar in many Asian countries. Yet, they are distinguishingly different. For instance, you might have been told not to buy shoes for Diwali (keep the shoe shopping for later). Well, even the Chinese follow this custom. Celebrations always involve visiting family, elaborate meals and fun and frolic. Family values are quite strong across the continent. Of course what may be right in one culture might be totally wrong in another. For instance, using your index finger to summon someone in a mock or funny manner is quite ok in our culture, however in the Philippines it is considered to be quite rude.
When you are exposed to such starkly different yet similar cultures, the experience moulds you for life. You learn to respect and live harmoniously with various cultural beliefs which still have the same roots.
From a very practical point of view, since you live in the same continent as the rest of your family, contacting them, or even flying home during smaller breaks is a far more viable option. It also means the chances of your family visiting you for a little vacation are brighter.
Last but not the least, there are fewer reports of on campus bullying or ragging which could calm quite a few frayed nerves back home.
Though there are flip sides like the language barrier in some countries and food in some others, with a little bit of persistence and determination you can surely overcome these hurdles.
Do embark on this journey called higher education and explore the immediate world around you, literally!
Top ten Asian Universities:
University of Tokyo, www.u-tokyo.ac.jp
National University of Singapore, www.nus.edu.sg
The University of Hong Kong, www.hku.hk
Peking University, www.english.pku.edu.ch
Pohang University of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea www.postech.ac.kr/
Tsinghua University, China www.tsinghua.edu.cn/
Kyoto University, Japan www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en
Seoul National University, Republic of Korea www.useoul.edu
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology www.ust.hk
Korea Advance Institute of Science and Technology www.kaist.edu
Source: The Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2013