Keep these points in mind if you are planning to study abroad - Hindustan Times
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Do you plan to study abroad? Here are some points to keep in mind if studying overseas is your dream

By, New Delhi
Oct 19, 2023 03:55 PM IST

According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Education in 2022, Indian students going abroad for higher education recorded a six-year high last year.

As the number of students choosing to study abroad rises, we are seeing a shift in the reasons why they are doing so. Being part of the industry for a long time now, I see that while traditional motivations such as a fruitful career and multicultural experiences remain strong, students are drawn to new and transformative opportunities to learn and grow.

For parents, sending their children to study abroad is an important investment for their future.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
For parents, sending their children to study abroad is an important investment for their future.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This is reflected in their choice of programmes such as sustainability and entrepreneurship, to name a few.

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For parents, sending their children to study abroad is an important investment for their future. Today, more than ever, they understand the lasting impact it can have on their career and beyond.

According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Education in 2022, Indian students going abroad for higher education recorded a six-year high last year, with a total of 750,365 students moving to foreign countries to pursue their education. This number is bound to increase in the coming years, as stated by UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar, who remarks that the numbers will double by 2030.

As a former international student, I understand both the excitement and challenges that come with studying abroad. While moving away from home brings a sense of freedom, it also brings with it uncertainties that one should be prepared to face.

Before going to the UK for my Masters, I had mostly lived with my family for the longest time and this was my first time being away from home for so long.

Being in a new place I wasn’t familiar with was a bit challenging, especially the first month. While missing home was naturally there, other challenges that I faced was navigating new spaces, both physically and culturally.

I did not know anyone in the UK to reach out to for guidance. There were cultural differences that made it difficult to adjust to the new environment. However, I was quick to learn that to truly make the most of this experience, I would have to learn to embrace the differences.

When studying abroad, you are mostly going to be by yourself. The socio-cultural setting and the academic pressures may get challenging. Connecting with people gives you a better perspective on things, and networking helps you find like-minded individuals.

As I said earlier, it is all about moving out of your comfort zone and identifying opportunities to rediscover and reinvent yourself.

Staying in a new place, far away from home, in a new country with no one familiar can have an impact on your self-confidence. Adapting to a new lifestyle, language, and education system can be challenging, and it is natural to start comparing yourself with other students who are more confident or at ease in the new setting.

But remember, the change for them did not happen overnight. So, it is important to be patient with yourself and set realistic goals, which include building a local support system for yourself. You can do so by being proactive and actively participating in mingling with students from your home country, with other international students, and with local ones whom you find supportive.

On the other hand, it is easy to get carried away by your newfound freedom. Away from home and on your own, one can lose sight of one’s academic and professional goals.

While it is important to experience the world beyond the classroom, it is also essential to remain focused and have a disciplined approach to maintain balance.

What helped me stay on track was the scholarship I was awarded for pursuing my higher education in the UK. Knowing how hard it is to get one and the level of competition, it came with a responsibility, which kept me motivated.

Talking about parents, they may experience mixed emotions when sending their child to study abroad. While on the one hand, you are proud of your child for taking on new opportunities; on the other hand, you may be concerned for his or her safety, well-being, and academic performance.

As a parent of a child who is preparing to study abroad, it is important for you to have meaningful conversations and discussions with your child about how to make the most of this experience.

By being proactive and discussing the challenges beforehand, your child will feel more comfortable and much more prepared for what is to come his or her way.

Discuss with them the importance of cultivating friendships with local students and how participating in activities can add to their knowledge and experience. Let them know it is normal to feel homesick, especially in the initial few months, and how engaging with people around them can help them quickly adapt to the new environment.

Try to establish a mutually acceptable communication mechanism, encouraging them to share their successes and challenges alike. Knowing they have support while staying abroad can be reassuring.

The number of Indian students going abroad is bound to increase, as are the anxieties for the parents and their children. However, by following one step at a time, with patience and consistency, the process becomes easier and more manageable.

( Lakshmi Iyer, is the Managing Director of SI-UK and SI-Global. Views expressed here are personal)

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