Confused whether or not to study abroad? Don`t think, go! says Patricia Mascarenhas
Regardless of the country you choose, studying abroad is an adventure and a challenge wrapped in an enigma. The idea to break away from the monotony of our daily routines is a dream that so many of us have, but rarely act on. So if you wish to travel, meet different people, and maybe pick up a language or two, then take that loan or apply for a scholarship and join a study abroad programme.
“A year in France gave me the opportunity to get a degree and at the same time learn French which I can now speak fluently,” says Nupuur Khedeykar, who studied at Sciences Po Paris, France. Perhaps, what is more important is the first hand experience that she got on different cultures and people. “I learned this from being an active member of the community and not from the tourist`s point of view,” she says.
As an international student, there is a world of opportunities waiting to be explored. It is one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of student life. “It gives students the chance to explore an unfamiliar country and immerse themselves in a culture different from their own; especially Indian students,” explains Alisha Mashruwala, overseas education counsellor. It is not everyday that you get to live in a different country, so one needs to make the most of this venture by scouting all the avenues. “Take studying seriously, but don’t hold yourself back from exploring all that you can and taking in as much culture possible,” she advises.
It is not easy adjusting to something that you are habitual to. The language, the food, and the lifestyle are totally different from what you are used to. While living on campus and navigating through the cities of a foreign country, you realise a lot of things about yourself that you never knew before. For instance, being away from family makes you realise that if you have any problems the only person you can count on is yourself. “I was hospitalised last year, and right from calling an ambulance to walking back home after being discharged, I was on my own,” says Purva Walse Patil, student, The George Washington University. Apart from being independent and responsible, living abroad teaches one to value one’s culture. By being exposed to so many diverse traditions you begin to understand the significance of keeping your own traditions alive. It also makes one open minded and accepting of contrasting views/ideas. “Being around people of different cultures also gave me a great vantage point and it made me examine and question a lot of the biases and customs practised back home,” Walse Patil adds.
Studying abroad opens infinite learning opportunities. Many students who go abroad are of the opinion that in addition to learning in their classes during the week, they learn some of the most valuable lessons outside the classroom. “Weekend excursions, field visits etc. add to your academic and personal growth. You learn to interact with people who may not necessarily think or communicate like you,” says Deana Lawerence, student, The University of Queensland. Even mundane activities like grocery shopping become learning experiences. “Learning the bus system, how to get around the city, and basically doing everything yourself in a country where you don’t know many people, makes you believe that you can really do anything,” she adds.
Finally, apart from the formal degree you get post course completion, studying abroad helps you develop a different personality. Whether it was hidden or you created it while studying abroad, this is the new you! “You become accustomed to a whole new culture and now you have to combine that with your old self. This new self will help determine the rest of your life in relation to jobs, relationships, career paths etc,” concludes Khedeykar.