Hi. I’m Purva, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas (USA). Today, as you consider becoming an International University Student and begin working towards that goal, share with me your queries and concerns and I will give you tips that help you better understand life on an International campus and being a foreign student.
Here are the questions that students asked Purva and her candid responses.
- How important is it to gain job experience before pursuing a master’s degree abroad?
Job experience may not be necessary to get into a master’s program, but it does increase your chances of getting a job offer abroad post course completion. Globally employers prefer prior internship/work experience, as it gives them asses the candidates ability to apply theoretical knowledge in a work setting.
- The education system in India totally differs from that of other nations. From rote to experiential, how does one cope?
It is different but not difficult. Spend the first few weeks of your time abroad, to understand the education system at your university and slowly try incorporating it in your daily routine. For example, in India we read chapters from text books after we have been taught in the class, whereas in many universities abroad you are given reading material prior to the lecture. You may not understand everything in the reading material before the professor delivers the lecture, but familiarize yourself with the study material so that you are not blank in class. Feel confident to ask questions or seek help from your professors. It will be a learning curve but never doubt your abilities to cope with a new system.
- Between the challenges of adjusting to a new country and the responsibility of the academic curriculum, is it possible to enjoy a healthy social life?
It is absolutely possible to enjoy your social life without compromising on your studies as long as you maintain a good balance between the two. The first few days might be overwhelming but keep your head above water at all times. Certainly, you will succeed and come out a stronger personality. The experience is sure to leave you better equipped to manage time and build a sense of discipline.
- One hears often that pay-scales in foreign countries are better than those in India and equally the cost of living is higher. Please comment.
The pay scale and tax system differ from country to country. No country enforces a particular lifestyle- it is a personal choice and differs from person to person. Many people have successfully managed to settle down abroad, some with modest lifestyles. Wherever you live, lifestyle will be impacted by your personal finance management skills, specially your own spending and saving habits.
- How do students cope with campus life … managing studies with cooking, cleaning and managing limited funds?
It is very natural to feel overwhelmed about maintaining a balance between your day to day activities and academics while considering to study abroad. From cooking, cleaning, studying to assembling your own furniture, you will have no help on an international campus. After the first few weeks, you will fall into a routine. Do learn a few things in the kitchen before leaving your home. Of course there are the heat and eat options available but you can’t survive on those for long.
- How difficult is it to adjust to the American way of life and culture?
Adjusting to the culture and lifestyle of any country differs from person to person. You need to be flexible and ready to adapt and accept change. US is in fact one of the easiest countries to adapt to. English is the spoken language across the States. It is a diverse and multi-cultural society and lastly, there is a large Indian community in the US, so you never feel left out. From Parle-G to Maggi, Indian grocery stores have it all. Dandiya/Diwali/Holi parties are very popular. Of course you must learn to accept and respect the laws of the land and do everything within its purview. Lastly, use the opportunity to explore, adapt and learn about a new country’s history, culture and lifestyle!
- Which are the non-traditional courses/ fields gaining prime importance, globally and will offer high potential in terms of job opportunities?
Assuming that by traditional courses you imply engineering and medicine, I would say that the non-traditional degrees gaining importance are in areas of art or design, public health, mental health (psychology, psychiatry), actuarial sciences, economics, microbiology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences. Though off beat, these can offer plenty of job opportunities in the future!