“So, you’re moving out of the country to study in Canada?” he asked in a tone tough to decipher.
I wasn’t sure what he exactly meant to ask, so I responded with a simple ‘yes’. As soon as I admitted to the news doing the rounds among my extended family he pounced at the opportunity and began to outline the several benefits I was going to reap with a foreign higher education degree as if he were a career counseling expert. Even though seeing a career counsel expert was a part of the plan, career counseling coming from Ahuja’s uncle wasn’t.
As Ahuja Uncle outlined, after a degree from Canada:
- I would be one of the most popular kids in the extended family.
- The kind of marriage proposals I would get after higher education in Canada would be unprecedented.
- I would have the wonderful opportunity of opening my own IELTS and TOEFL training institutes in whichever city my husband is settled in, once I am married.
Any sane person would be appalled at the perception that was put forward about the mere idea of moving out of the country to study abroad. But I wasn’t surprised. I had been fed on this idea by most people around me. What was rather strange was the look of surprise in the eyes of Ahuja Uncle when I told him that my idea of a higher education degree abroad was absolutely contrary to his.
“Uncle, there’s more to studying abroad than gaining popularity within the family. Even as I will have to undergo IELTS training and TOEFL training myself, the final aim is not to run an institute of the same in my husband’s city. I am not saying it is a bad career option, in fact, it is an excellent one. But, not at the cost of my individuality sacrificed for the sake of a man I don’t even know currently.”
Well, uncle had some pertinent questions too:
- I would be taught the same things that I would learn at a university in India.
- What difference do universities abroad even make? The field doesn’t change after all.
- Undergoing student counseling sessions, meeting study abroad consultants and career consultants to figure out which universities abroad are more suited to one’s purpose is all good but does that even matter?
But uncle did not realize that each one of the things that he questioned was exactly what made the difference. In fact, my plan involved going for visa counseling too in order to be able to apply for a study abroad visa hassle-free. And to be honest, I did not plan to ask my parents to pay for any of it either. There are tons of scholarship tests that I can take, and manage my tuition fee and other finances abroad all by myself.
There are several benefits of a degree from Canada beyond better marriage proposals:
- It is true that the field doesn’t change, but the scope of all that’s there to the field does.
- There’s always a different set of texts that you’re taught, to begin with. The perspectives of those teaching you the subject are entirely different, owing to the difference in the cultural background that they come from.
- There are people from all parts of the world with their own set of values and cultural belief systems studying with you. You have so much to learn from them.
- You get to be on your own in a country that is so different from your own, among people who are so different from your own. It’s like an adventure.
- And the difference in the way the particular country and its people view education cannot be discounted too. And honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Well, cutting the story short I went on for quite some time with the kind of experiences higher education abroad provided one with, while the look on uncle’s face with every new fact was absolutely priceless. I’m glad he at least tried understanding my view point and didn’t brush it aside as another strange new habit of us millennials.