Trend for students going abroad for studies continues. The hope that they will earn better qualification, self-confidence and be able to look after their families drives them away from the country. The increase in number of youths leaving the country each year shows they have the same kind of understanding about what makes their life secure. And of course, I am one of them.
Here, more than sharing my personal journey, I hope my experience will guide my juniors planning to move abroad for higher studies and keep them informed about the pros and cons of such a move.
One common thought that drives us away is ‘our country has not given us anything and maybe we have no future here’. But my experience shows opportunities exist the most where ‘there is nothing’. After all, most of us going abroad begin discovering and selling the beauty of the place we have left behind. We sincerely want and try to acquaint our country with rest of the world describing its unique positive qualities.
It is natural that a 21st century student would be in a hurry to achieve success. Our struggle, we think, is a tree that bears the fruit of happiness. Old questions reappear before us in a changed form, but answers continue to elude us. Does living with parents necessarily mean losing one’s independence? Or does one have to leave the country, all those childhood memories, the place that you have a sense of belonging to, and the traditional support system that our society is uniquely known for to realize the dream that one has set for future?
I have been away for a year now as I said, to pursue my dream with independence and freedom. But I am yet to get the proper answer to my questions related to the changed context. How does taking all responsibilities, from paying house rents every week, electricity bills or washing dishes help to achieve what we call success? Can we attain the height that we set without taking the burden of our finances?
Society will expect us to be more responsible when we become ‘adults’ and how we conduct ourselves will depend on how we prepare ourselves.
Pros of Moving Abroad
An experience abroad gives one an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself. You realize the world is full of different people, and in order to go with the flow you have to adjust. I am much more composed, restrained and cool compared to when I used to be like back. I have learned patience and to hide sufferings. With time you realize the importance of each and every person in your life, and the pressure taken by your parents to raise you as a good child. More than anything, I have learned to behave peacefully when there are lots of thoughts passing around.
I am still in the phase of managing my finances and adapting to the new environment with different kinds of people. I do have friends from all over the world which have led me to understand similarities rather than just our differences and of course, be patient with them. It is far easier for me now to approach people at all levels at the time of need.
I have seen students who cannot handle divided attention and priorities as well as such pressure on them. Also their parents cannot afford to bring them back, it shatters my heart the most.
Students in countries like Australia, Canada, or similar ones, are in far advantageous position as they get higher pay and better settlement chances in the future. The west respects and recognizes the better qualified and extraordinary ones. Some of them even may get opportunities to study new subjects that may include Robotics or Aeronautics or others not available in our country. Being away and independent enhances our decision making power.
The more one is far away, the nearer one feels towards the family, society and the country. I never want to miss out a chance to project positive image of my country. I remember the first time when I went to the supermarket alone and the cash I had wasn’t sufficient for my bills was a great learning experience. I learnt and made it a habit not to waste money on useless things. But not always, and not every experience anywhere will be only ‘positive’ and pleasant.
Cons of Moving Abroad
There won’t be any one to look after you when you fall sick. Even if you are with your friends or relatives, the care you get at home or from your mother, does not have an equivalent or substitute. Work, punctuality, earning –matter more.
You also realize how important those occasions and moments were that you spent with your parents. No one can understand you better than your family and its role in our life as an institution. ‘Introverts’ may find themselves at odds. Silence, or not sharing ones’ problem is not the way to make others understand about you and your problems. You will remain somebody, distant or an outsider, something that may sometimes de-motivate you.
In most cases, in developed countries where jobs are competitive and not permanent, it is frustrating to keep on searching for new jobs. In some jobs, outsiders may be paid less or quit at the slightest error. You will not have the support of the family here.
I have seen the pressure on students of a different nature. Although they are here to study, they face pressure from home to earn money for the family. I have seen students who cannot handle divided attention and priorities as well as such pressure on them. Also their parents cannot afford to bring them back, it shatters my heart the most.
What Can You Do Instead?
I can state from my experience that everyone should stay away from their comfort zone at least for some time and pursue their priorities so that they can learn the actual meaning and purpose of life. It is here –far away from home—that a child learns to be responsible and understand the sacrifices their family has done for them. This, however, does not mean that one should be too unrealistically ambitious and take a big step at a time. But you can slowly and steadily learn everything when you are both mentally and physically and go step by step.
Perhaps, not only the family but even schools should be teaching us how to solve problems that we face at every stage of life. May be there should some machinery of the government and ways that youths going abroad have enough capability to face and survive the crisis. Government must realize the life of these youths is not only meant to send remittance home. They should be prepared, encouraged and trained to do more back home.
(Koirala is studying BBA at Chimanbai Patel College under Gujarat University, India)