Being an Indian and coming from a middle-class background, I can relate to when someone expresses how lucrative it is to pursue education from overseas. But I have never given it thought. What exactly is it that makes us want to pursue this path? Is it due to the quality of education that is prevalent in these foreign countries or is it just to quench our thirst for attention?
The other day, my mum and I were out shopping groceries when my mum met one of her friends. Enthralled by the coincidence of meeting this long lost friend, my mum started conversing with her! Meanwhile, I just stood there, wondering what would the course of this conversation be like. After the salutations, the conversation headed to – the children and what exactly were they up to! Curious to know what she would say, I crept in closer. I was absolutely thrown off by the course of actions that were to follow. So apparently, her son was pursuing his degree in Electronic Engineering from a university in Dubai. That is a good thing right? But I don’t know what triggered my mum, but that whole day was about how I have achieved ‘nothing’ in my life and how I should ‘be’ like that guy. To console myself, I thought that this is the mentality of most mothers and this happens with most of us.
It’s a funny thing how easily people develop misconceptions about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ based on where someone is pursuing their education from. With that being said, there are certain skills that are instilled within an individual while studying abroad. The development of this skill set is of paramount importance when it comes to being successful on the international scenario.
With the insight from a few friends who are currently overseas and also with significant research in the topic, here are viewpoints and deductions that can be made in regards to the skills one develops while studying abroad.
PROFICIENCY IN LANGUAGES:
Gaining proficiency in the foreign language of that particular area is something that you will gain.
Conversations with the locals and constant exposure to the language in terms of your time spent in the country will help you gain some sort of command over the language which will ultimately lead to the development of your oratory skills. In today’s day and age, developing communication skills are of utmost importance: be it in the business sector or the private sector. Being a linguist will make you an asset to your firm and will broaden your scope in terms of job opportunities.
Your confidence in yourself will grow by leaps and bounds as you start having faith in yourself and believe that you can take adverse situations in your stride. Also, since you have to manage most of your trivial chores like doing the dishes, washing your clothes and sometimes even making your own food, you start taking responsibility for the course of your life; managing your expenses too! You don’t have anyone around you to blame when you are late for your classes, thus you are pushed into taking responsibility and prioritizing your chores and activities.
INCREASED CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING:
The cultural diversity of the people that you are around will make you realize the different social aspects of people from cultures other than yourself and will forge a better understanding as to the mindsets and personalities of these people. This multicultural engagement that you have experienced will enable you to be an effective team leader and will teach you how to tackle a culturally diverse group of people.
EMOTIONAL BALANCE AND STABILITY:
Since you spend such a long duration away from your home- especially your family members- you develop a sense of emotional stability even after the initial problems in adjusting to the cultural shift. Your development of decision making skills will allow you to think practically when the situation demands it: you being placed in a better situation to take those critical decisions.
ENHANCEMENT OF GROUP SKILLS:
Approximately 90% of the assignments that are allotted to you are to be executed as teams which is why you gain more exposure to working with other members of your multicultural team. These soft skills go a long way in developing your overall personality and thus will benefit you in the future when you are part of various teams.
DIVERSIFY YOUR TASTE-BUDS:
People living in a particular area for most parts of their life tend to be fussy eaters- however by brushing off your inhibitions, you will experience a wider array of tastes that will enrich your palate, allowing for a more complete experience of the foreign country. This will come in handy during the years wherein you will travel to different countries in order to rope in new potential clients.
All in all, the thumb-rule being- ‘Be shameless, Be carefree’. Go live your life like it’s your last day since living abroad is a different experience in itself, especially for a student. Please remember that you won’t get these years back and make the most out of it!