According to UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS, the pandemic has not impacted students on a study abroad program as much as locals, ICEF ranks India second in the world as far as students studying abroad is concerned.
The World Education Service (WES) puts China at the top. But then research also shows that students from small towns and rural India do not have easy access to information or resources to fulfil their desire to study abroad. Financial constraints notwithstanding, these students struggle to access even the basic information about travel abroad program. With that in mind here’s a snapshot of what you need to know.
Someone once remarked that India is still holding on to age-old laws and regulations with little modification. This applies to education too. The announcement of the new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) unfortunately came weeks before the pandemics and hence could not be implemented. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the policy will be enforced soon as it contains radical changes that are set to put India right there at the top.
Contrary to the Indian system, foreign universities – particularly in western countries – offer better flexibility in the choice of subject. India for instance still follows the rigid system of fixed subjects for each stream. A student cannot for instance choose to study chemistry, psychology, and accountancy in the same course. Foreign universities also accommodate all manner of students from high-school graduates to experienced industry workers and including single, married, and other social classes. This is perhaps more of a social thing but it does impact those who wish to pursue higher studies. Travel abroad programs are ideal for Indian dropouts who wish to complete their education – considering the ease with which you could get a student loan. Moreover, there is a greater penetration of technology in western countries as compared to India where except for a select few colleges and institutions such as Symbiosis, XLRI, ISB, and IIMs. In addition to this, the Indian system of education is lacking in many aspects ranging from the facilities at educational institutions to the curriculum and pedagogy design. There also exists a wide gap between theory and practice. Solutions are spoon-fed and students learn more by rote rather than by application. Teachers are underpaid and reluctant to consider innovative teaching methods to engage the students or make learning an interactive process. These factors restrict students from achieving their full potential.
This question is slightly different from why you should study abroad. Traditionally, Indians migrated overseas in search of better opportunities and courses that were not available locally. This is no longer true since many Indian institutes now rank high on the list of Global Universities. Still, studying overseas is a good idea. Why?
Well, apart from the obvious reasons – that you’ll become independent, learn about new cultures, and so on, there is one great and patriotic reason for studying abroad. When you study abroad you learn about the techniques and technologies adopted in that country. If you happen to be working to pay your way through college, you are likely working within the industry which means you get great hands-on experience alongside your theory. When you come back to your homeland you can put all this knowledge to good use.
Besides, in case you haven’t realized it yet, in today’s world of globalization, there are virtually no geographical boundaries. An understanding and appreciation of a foreign nation and its culture will help you in your career – you’ll meet plenty of students not only from the host country but other regions of the world as well and learn from them. You’ll get a chance to view your own culture from a different lens. And a degree from a foreign university on your CV tells potential employers much more than your qualification. It tells them that you can speak a few international languages and are adaptable to diverse cultures and new environments. This gives you a distinct edge over the competition.
Moreover, living in a foreign nation and interacting with people from different regions and cultures at a young age prepares you for the future by giving you a global mindset, which is necessary if you want to advance your career in today’s world of digitization. It will also open up your CV to better prospects as employers in India as well as elsewhere actively seek candidates who are capable of travelling to new countries for business.
“If they (Indian Students) want to study abroad, then their purpose has changed,” says IC3 INSTITUTE CEO RAJIKA BHANDARITweet
Well, to answer that question, we first need to know what you want to study and which country you want to do it in. The choice of country for many students was earlier based on factors like employability, cost, and having a support system – not necessarily in that order – and it’s understandable. Millennial students are much more pragmatic in their approach.
Reason notwithstanding, if you cannot find the course of your choice in the country of your choice you’ve set yourself up for some serious research – seeking alternatives. There are many paths you can take – lookout for our blog on this soon – meanwhile know that making a choice is by no means the end of the road. So here’s what you should know and do –
Even after you’ve done your research and picked a destination, you still need to dig deeper. You should check out the country in which you will be spending the next few years of your life – perhaps the most crucial years at that.
Things that you should look for include, the exact location where you will be living and studying, the climate of the region, the popular food – if you are vegan, vegetarian, or on a special diet such as gluten-free, you should check out options for your specific diet. It might be a good idea to pick up a local food guide and browse through it beforehand so you know what to expect. Also, check out the various stay arrangements – such as a hostel, shared apartments, or PG rentals – close by. Check out the costs of daily supplies, stationery, and other stuff you might need.
As a first step, you can reach out to the faculty and administrative staff you dealt with during the admission process but it’s a good idea to ask around in your college campus for contacts of students – seniors – on a study abroad program – and connect with them. They’ll likely be glad to lend a helping hand or take on an extra renter to cut costs. The internet and social media are also good places to look. You can join online forums and communities of likeminded students on exchange programs or otherwise studying in foreign colleges to see what they are doing. Who knows you might find someone who is also travelling to the same destination as you and even doing the same course.
Even before you step out or jump online for shopping, you should list all the things you’ll need. Categorize them into personal and academic for starters – and then begin looking for stuff. Check your college binder or folder every day to ensure that you have all the documents you need. It is perhaps a good idea to scout around for any books you might need – you’ll probably get them cheaper in India – and carry them with you. Don’t forget any prescription drugs you take every day – carry at least a month worth of supplies to last you while you settle in. Don’t forget to carry some adapters – depending upon where you are going, there may be a difference in the plug shape, size, voltage, and the way electricity is deployed. Add in summer as well as winter clothing and remember to carry your laptop, cell, and chargers. Check out and get currency exchange well in advance. Oh, and adding a map or travel guide of the location will help. Can you think of anything else? Do let us know.
We already mentioned currency exchange – that a first step. It would be wise to set up an account in an international bank – such as Citi Bank or Bank of America – so that you can easily transfer money to and from home. Understand how this works with the bank you choose and what they charge if anything for the facilities they provide. Knowing these things in advance will save time figuring out things later when you actually need to send or receive money.
It’s all very well to say that the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Skype keep you connected but you’re leaving home – presumably for the first time – and are likely to be away for a good while. So you’ll want to see your family and hear their voice. Carry your cell phone by all means but make sure it will work in the new country or region. Check out if you need to get a new connection or even a new phone, and how you can go about doing that – it’s one of the first things you should do after you land.
Using public transport like trains and busses is common in India. Not so in some countries and you might need a vehicle of your own; but if you don’t have one, you might want to have a street guide handy. Besides having one – your own drive – is much more convenient too. So better check out the type of transport you want and that fits into your budget. Work out your cost of maintenance and make sure you have some money left over for emergencies.
Doing all the math in advance will have you comfortably settled in in no time.