Internationalisation of Education
One memory that remains etched in the mind of any off-shore student is the euphoria associated with receiving the letter of offer to study abroad. For any student, the chance to study in a foreign land is a dream come true; and benefits that come with the journey – opportunities to meet and interact with new friends, the freedom that comes with the independence from watchful eyes and being thrust in cauldron of cultures is major attraction.
Alongside is also the fear of moving into a new territory, embracing new cultures, traditions, habits, and at the same time keeping in touch with the objective of the transition – studying to earn a degree. They are confronted with a host of issues such as a new curriculum, getting around the campus and its environs, seeking and finding help, accommodation, adjusting the palate to new cuisines and most of all separation from family and friends.
A cursory glance at the statistics of international student enrollment in India reveals that in the academic year 2018-2019, more than 47,000 international students from 160+ countries studied in higher education institutions across India. Though the number of international students makes up a small fraction of India’s overall higher education enrollments, the figures are optimistic.With the Indian government pumping in approximately Rs 150 crore for various schemes to promote India as a chosen destination for foreign students for higher education, institutions offering higher education are bound to witness an accelerated influx of international students.
Jain (Deemed-to-be University) is committed to and excited about being an integral part of this endeavor of placing the education industry of the country on the global map. Since the University follows an all-inclusive growth policy every year, the number of international students continues to move in only one direction – upwards. This year, the University has touched an all-time high leveraged by the ‘Study in India’ scholarship programme. Currently, the University is a host to more than 950 international students from 28 countries, enrolled in different courses.
We have a plethora of experiences of international students at JAIN to celebrate its growing stature as a teaching and learning hub for students dedicated to nurturing young citizens with a global outlook while grounded in local realities.
In search of redemption
Beebee Anwaarah Ahmed Camall Saib From Mauritius Pursuing Arts
Sitting in a corner of the lecture hall, Beebee Anwaarah Ahmed Camall Saib’s only regret is her inability to garner sufficient information about living and studying in India before she made the switch. That is partially because back home in the African Island nation of Mauritius, she had never envisioned a life away from her home and hence the lack of preparedness. Now a true embodiment of the ‘thinking out of the box’ mantra, Anwaarah is humbled by how things have turned out. “I never imagined studying away from home, let alone India,” she says. “But when I learnt about the ‘Study in India’ scholarship, I could not let the opportunity walk away.” Anwaarah recalls the rush to meet the deadline that came with the offer. “I never saw this coming and there was barely any time to put things in place,” she reflects. In that instance, she had to apply for her student visa and prepare herself mentally for the long travel to Bengaluru where she would be staying for the duration of her course. Obviously the paperwork would prove to be the biggest challenge. “I obtained my visa with difficulty and came to India armed with very scanty information not knowing what to expect. I kept reminding myself that living in a distant land for three good years required a strong will and determination.” Today, Anwaarah has already heard a lot about living and studying in India but is firm that she would not judge and instead has opted to go through the experience without nurturing any prejudices. “I believe that everyone goes through things differently and since I am here, I have come with an open mind,” she insists. Recalling the initial days in the city, Anwaarah says she always found herself smiling at just about everything unraveling before her eyes.
“What was unfolding before my eyes had no similarity to all that I was being told. This has given me the impetus to embrace things as they come,” she says. Sharing her experiences, she says the local hosts have been extremely helpful. Moving around in Bengaluru would not have been easy but for the support from people. Anwaarah has also adjusted to the local food traditions although it was a trifle difficult because of its spicy ingredients. Life on campus comes with its challenges but Anwaarah is relishing every moment. Here too, she insists she did not want to come with expectations. Choosing to study in an unfamiliar academic system presents its own challenges. In the case of Anwaarah, her cause was not helped by the fact that she arrived on campus after the session had commenced. Anwaarah credits ‘Mind Management’, a value added course that helped in her smooth transition. “Soon after joining, the course contributed immensely to my well-being and I was able to cope with the demands of learning,” says Anwaarah. “Our lecturers also helped us in preparing for the preparatory examinations. Since we arrived late, we missed the start of the semester but got the call to be at the main campus of JAIN, where we were given the complete schedule and met the lecturers who would be taking us through the induction programme as well as English proficiency course. They ensured a smooth transition and focus on orienting international students to the rigours of Indian curriculum. “All those initial hiccups are behind me now and I am going through my studies in a free and relaxed atmospshere.”
As for her parting shot, Anwaarah is proud to be part of a vibrant institution where the well-being of students and academic performance get equal attention. She says, “Lecturers here stand by students in their challenges. That is great,” concludes Anwaarah.
In love with culinary delights
Jadoo Roshni Fatemah From Mauritius Pursuing Arts
Not so long ago, Jaddoo Roshni Fatemah, a native of the African Island nation of Mauritius, then just out of school, was mulling over her options for study. And then the ‘Study in India’ Scholarship came her way. An offer so difficult to ignore, she opted to enroll herself for a Bachelor of Arts degree course at Jain (Deemed-to-be University) in distant Bengaluru. Yet she was not prepared for some of the hard facts that would accompany this big change, separation from family and friends, adapting to new ways of doing things and trying to ‘fit in’ amongst others. “The decision to leave a familiar environment for a new one was not easy,” reflects Roshni. “I was feeling lost and took time to adjust to the change in lifestyle and food habits.” Luckily for her, it has not taken that long to adjust to the new routine. “It is hardly two months since I arrived here but I am far more acclimatized to my situation, now that life has fallen into a regular routine,” she says. Roshni cannot hide her love for the local dishes that once did not appeal to her taste buds. She has fallen for the famed Indian snack, masala dosas with its accompaniment, chutney. And this she discovered on a visit to a local restaurant. “I was sure after biting into one that I would go for some more,” she recalls. She has since enjoyed masala dosas with other delightful dishes that she keeps trying out. Culinary delights aside, she has also taken to the city of Bengaluru and its ways. “Indeed this place exudes a unique vibrancy,” she says. “I admire the natural beauty and the diverse hues whenever I take a walk through Cubbon Park,” she says. “There are also beautiful butterflies floating all across Lalbagh Garden and its Glass House.” Other than these, she is grateful for the support she gets from the ‘Study in India’ team, the International Students Centre and staff at the University. “I admire the fact that I have amazing lecturers who are approachable. They have ensured that as students we get to understand the lessons and they go that extra mile to help us.”
Barring the much talked of pollution, Bengaluru scores high in Roshni’s estimation and she is convinced there is much more for her to discover during her educational sojourn. And what has kept her going? “Everyday is a new learning experience, and everyday, I am getting more and more accustomed to being on my own.”
Strolling into a new routine
Onali Chandrasekara From SriLanka Pursuing Arts
If things had not gone according to her plans, Onali Chandrasekara could be studying at the local government university back in the Emerald Island of Sri Lanka. Soon after completing her schooling with Indian History, Mass Communication and Logic as her Advanced level subjects, Onali went on to pursue a diploma course in Writing and Communication at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and was anticipating an offer from a Government University. That is when one of her close friends told her about the scholarships available for study at Jain (Deemed-to-be- University) in Bengaluru. Before applying, she researched online and discovered that the University was one of the best in India. A few months later, she received a call that she had won a full scholarship to study at the University setting her on a path many of her peers just dream of. She felt great but once the excitement had trailed off, reality soon dawned. “I had never travelled on my own even back home in Sri Lanka,” she says. “Since I was going to be away from home, I realized this journey would offer a different form of challenge,” According to Onali, the thoughts of the sacrifices already made by her parents and the urge to make them feel proud proved to be the clincher. “I felt this was an opportunity to realise my dreams; and then return home and be there for them.”
Onali, who is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts was not the only one from Sri Lanka selected for study. There were three others.
Arriving in Bengaluru, Onali was convinced that she had made the right decision. But there was another side that just would not let her rest. “It was not easy saying goodbye to my parents and tears rolled freely,” she recalls. For the first time, she found herself seeking a footing on her own that too at an alien locale. On the same evening, she placed a call to her parents feeling stressed, lonely and dejected. But there were encouragements all around. She got support from her friends from Sri Lanka and also the staff at the hostel. Today, she can look back complacently in the knowledge that transition from one culture to another requires a complete mental shift. “I have now settled into my daily campus routine,” she explains. “Truly, this is an attractive university where many students, both domestic and international come for study. I feel welcome and I thank just about everyone for making this transition a smooth one for international students.
Like other students from Sri Lanka who went through their schooling in their native language Sinhala, Onali too had little grasp of English language. This meant she would struggle in her interactions on a campus where English was the medium of instruction. She has since enrolled for the English courses that would help her gain a hold on the vocabulary, writing and speaking skills. So is the toil finally beginning to bear fruits? “I believe there is a reason why I came this far.” And from where does she draw her strength and inspiration? “My parents and friends,” she says. “I have come to accept that I will be away for the full duration of my course and it is only those here who will help me push through the schedule.” That said Onali has only good words for her lecturers both from the Department of English and her host department. “They have been kind and focused on helping us learn spoken and written English,” she explains. Besides, Onali credits the staff at the International Students Advisory Centre and the Study in India team who have been supportive even in their struggles to speak fluently in English. “I will always treasure their support,” she declares.
Her ultimate goa after studies is to join government service and rise through the ranks to hold senior positions, create a positive impact in people’s lives and be there for her parents and family when they need her. At the moment, there is a lot of catching up to do. “I am trying to learn English as fast as possible and let me add here that I am just fortunate to be studying at JAIN. That means a lot to me!”