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-Anoushka Manidhar

Choosing the stream of subject in high school can be difficult, giving board exams at 17 can be even more difficult but something beats all of this. The decision, whether to go abroad for higher education is one of the most difficult, confusing and crucial decision that both a student and the family need to make. Sadly, there is abundant false information available about foreign education that reaches the potential students who then refrain from reaching out to fulfill their dreams. An alternate reality is projected to most students in such a way that they unfortunately end up making uninformed life altering decisions.

Well, I am no expert but as someone who has had a lot of friends and family studying abroad, I intend to bust the primary myths through this article that most students know of.

MYTH #1

STUDYING ABROAD IS EXPENSIVE

FACT: Not true. Consider the ROI (Return on Investment)

Education abroad is generally expensive than in India but what plays a role in varying that cost are factors such as the university, location, and the duration of the program. Which is why, it is immensely important to choose a university that is suitable within your budget.

Moreover, education is an investment. Therefore, another way to see the case is by noticing the long term return on this investment.

If you plan your finances well, your education will not seem like a burden. Play cautious and avoid redundant expenses by being minimalistic, and practical. In addition, you can take up on-campus jobs, teaching assistant jobs, research assistance, or internships to supplement your income. The icing here is that by working part time, you also gain valuable work experience. After completing your education, you get an opportunity to work abroad with some high profile, leading companies. In most cases, students manage to pay off their EMIs or education loans in the first few years of joining their new job.

MYTH #2

NO SCHOLARSHIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
Fact: Not true. It’s challenging, but not impossible.

There are two kinds of scholarships available for international students – merit based and need based. Now, the governments of countries like USA, UK, Australia, Japan, and a few European countries acknowledge the exceptional performance of international students by granting funds, financial rewards and scholarships to develop and promote international education. You can benefit from these funds. Also, you can avail of scholarships sponsored by few global, national, regional organisations, and financial institutions. In addition, one of the most common scholarships awarded by universities is in the form of full or partial waiver on tuition fees for outstanding international students. You can contact the international students’ community or the financial aid office at your target universities to gain a better understanding of your specific options and eligibility criteria.

MYTH #3

NO ADDED ADVANTAGE IN EMPLOYMENT
Fact: Not true. Holistic education is a highly valued commodity

Here are the numbers. According to the 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report conducted by GMAC (a non-profit educational body), companies continue to express high levels of hiring demand for business school graduates. 43% of technology firms plan to recruit new hires directly from the Master in Data Analytics programs, nearly twice the share of companies in other industries that plan to hire these candidates. Globally, a majority of employers have reported that their companies will be focused on growth and expansion in 2019. By region, a majority of employers in Asia-Pacific (66%), the United States (53%), and Europe (51%) report that they will be increasing their overall employee staffing levels in 2019.

Employers associate study-abroad candidates with the skills such as international exposure, social skills, problem solving skills, communication skills and language proficiency, self-reliance, risk-taking, understanding of cross-cultural dynamics, flexibility and adaptability and global network.
As more and more companies work across borders and cultures, a degree from a foreign university on your resume will keep you a step ahead of competition in the job market.

MYTH #4

TRAVEL GIVES NO EXPERIENCE
Fact: Not True. No holiday can give as much experience as much as study abroad

One of the most exciting aspects of studying abroad is the opportunity for cultural immersion. You gain an insight into the traditions and lifestyles of other communities. Also, in a classroom with students from across the globe, you broaden your horizon as you interact in this multiple ethnicity environment.

Educational excursions, unlike tour companies earmark specific landmarks within the city and in the countryside where students get to learn about the history, growth of a country, root of local customs and conventions.

MYTH #5

THE LONELINESS IS OVERBEARING
Fact: Not always true. But depends on you.

The world is your playground, and you have to choose what you want to do. Outside your restricted set of local interactions, here is an opportunity to advance your social skills, broaden your social network, and make new acquaintances and friends. In fact, you will be ushered into your circle of peers through orientation programs and various team building activities. Even before you realise, you’ll be part of your clique. Universities abroad recognize the need to make their international students feel at home. Schools make conscious attempts to promote healthy cultural exchange. This experience will be the cornerstone of your education, by influencing your personality, and instilling in you a greater understanding of people outside your boundaries. You begin to appreciate the differences and diversity, while harbouring a spirit of camaraderie.

MYTH #6

THERE ARE COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS WITH FOREIGNERS

Fact: Not true. It may get lonely at times, but it is an opportunity to interact with multi-cultural people.

In most foreign colleges, English is the spoken language and also the medium of instruction. However, before applying, take a look at language pre-requisites or criteria prescribed by your university. If you are not attuned to listening to foreign accents, you may find it initially difficult to comprehend what’s being said. But this is an easy problem to overcome. Before commencing your course, you can expose yourself to audios that help you understand foreign language accents, speech modulation, and foreign tongue. Take this as an opportunity to a new language or different English in a foreign country is an immense opportunity to enhance your linguistic proficiency. The most effective and fastest way to language learning is to acquire it in a natural context. Furthermore, you will attain near native fluency in English that would enrich your communication skills.

MYTH #7

INDIAN STUDENTS GET NEGLECTED

Fact: Not true. Colleges strive towards building inclusive environments

To a great extent, the media is responsible for creating a misunderstanding about Indians. What the media portrays is a distorted picture of reality. While Indians in many television sitcoms are caricatured to resemble their ethnicity, it is not the general view of the international community about Indians.

At colleges, professors are more like mentors than teachers; very approachable and eager to help students resolve issues related to academics or otherwise. The education culture in foreign universities is based on the ideology of unhindered learning and creating conducive educational ambience. They believe that for effective learning, in no way should students feel threatened. You must know that hundreds, if not thousands of Indians have gone abroad much before your time, and have gained immensely. The school is familiar with our cultural uniqueness, and they are more than welcoming. You will be surprised at how wonderfully and spontaneously local students accept you and offer their assistance.

MYTH #8

NOT SAFE TO STUDY ABROAD
Fact: Not true. Universities rank student safety as top priority.

Reputed foreign universities recognize the need to provide a safe environment for their students. Colleges have a zero tolerance policy towards harassment of international students. They take their job of providing a safe environment very seriously. To this end, they implement strict regulations to ensure safety on and off campus. According to the policy, staff as well as students must adhere to all safety norms and obligations. Any deviation from the norm, depending on the gravity of the circumstance, will attract strict disciplinarian action. However, just as anywhere in the world, safety measures while studying abroad will be no different. Before leaving for your new college, study the school’s campus safety norms. Find out whom to consult in case of a situation of campus bullying. Approach the school authorities, or the local police for issues related to racial abuse or terrorism. MADAD, an Indian government initiative for Indians living abroad, takes care of the safety and security of Indian students abroad. You can approach MADAD too, in case you run into trouble.

With high stakes, concerns give way to misconceptions. Studying abroad is not without challenges. However, it is important to be prepared, and not fall prey to rumours. Don’t let wrong ideas mar your determination.

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