The Ox­ford of the East has wel­comed many a for­eign stu­dent with open arms. Each year, nu­mer­ous stu­dents from var­i­ous coun­tries of the world come to the city for pur­su­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion. In a tête-à-tête with Citadel, some in­ter­na­tional stu­dents share th


With the city be­ing a hub of world-class aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, some in­ter­na­tional stu­dents share their ex­pe­ri­ences of cul­tural in­te­gra­tion

At­tract­ing a huge num­ber of stu­dents from across the globe, Pune has been pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents of di­verse na­tion­al­i­ties. The re­puted ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes of the city, namely, Sav­it­ribai Phule Pune Uni­ver­sity, Sym­bio­sis In­sti­tute and Fer­gus­son Col­lege, have a con­sid­er­able amount of for­eign stu­dents. Ow­ing to the lib­eral and un­bi­ased approach of th­ese col­leges, it has been no­ticed that more for­eign stu­dents have been en­rolling them­selves with th­ese in­sti­tutes over the years. In­deed, th­ese in­sti­tu­tions, go­ing global, fol­low the In­dian motto, ‘Guest is God­like’, with a lot of con­vic­tion! Ryu­taro Aoy­agi, who’s pur­su­ing his MA in Eco­nom­ics at Sav­it­ribai Phule Pune Uni­ver­sity, (SSPU), ex­presses, “I am from Ja­pan and my ob­jec­tive of study­ing here is not only to get a de­gree, but also to un­der­stand the In­dian cul­ture, tra­di­tions, and the var­i­ous per­spec­tives of the In­dian na­tion­als. The city’s grow­ing at a fast rate, and I am very satised with the over­all environment here.” Seiya Chida, who’s from Ja­pan too, ad­mires the safety the city pro­vides. Hav­ing been in the city for more than a year now, also study­ing eco­nom­ics, he feels the environment is get­ting bet­ter. “But on the other hand, the ram­pant bribery is a prob­lem,” he com­ments. Speak­ing about the In­dian phi­los­o­phy and spir­i­tu­al­ity, Heedo Kang, a South Korean na­tional ma­jor­ing in Phi­los­o­phy at Fer­gus­son Col­lege, says, “In­dian phi­los­o­phy and spir­i­tu­al­ity are one of their kinds. It at­tracts peo­ple from far and wide. I wanted to know about In­dian tra­di­tions, cus­toms and life­style, and hence I am study­ing phi­los­o­phy. Life is dif­fer­ent in South Korea. There’s a lot more free­dom here and is more peace­ful. Also, I found my life partner, who’s also Korean, here. Des­tiny, isn’t it?” He can­not help blush­ing at the end. Yasir Arafat, who’s from So­ma­lia and is do­ing his BA in Eco­nom­ics, has fond mem­o­ries of the city. “The calm weather and friendly peo­ple of Pune at­tracted me. There’s am­ple green­ery around. Plus, Fer­gus­son Col­lege, which is one of the best in In­dia, gave me a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties to make my dreams come true!” Eme­sha Pi­u­mini, a res­i­dent of Sri Lanka, won the ICCR schol­ar­ship and hence is now study­ing for her MA in Eco­nom­ics in SPPU. She rem­i­nisces, “Pune’s climate and lush green­ery make me miss my coun­try a lit­tle less. The ini­tial months were stress­ful, be­cause of the doc­u­men­ta­tion pro­ce­dures. More­over, the com­pe­ti­tion here is erce, just like in my coun­try. Also, The In­dian Coun­cil for Cul­tural Re­la­tions, (ICCR) needs to pro­vide more as­sis­tance,” she stresses. Pune of­fers a lot of cher­ished mem­o­ries. The city, giv­ing a reec­tion of the cul­tural side of the state, is ahead in mak­ing the per­fect mo­ments come alive for ev­ery­one! Yogita Tahilram, from South Africa, who’s study­ing for her BA in French at Fer­gus­son Col­lege, says, “I made some of my most dear friends here. I’ve be­come a stronger per­son here, and dis­cov­ered who I wanted to be.” Mov­ing on, Ryu­taro shares a tale about the friend In­dia gave him. “I met an In­dian en­gi­neer on Christ­mas Eve 2015. He was a happy and re­spectable per­son, and we bonded as I taught him Ja­panese while learn­ing English from him. He had a very re­spon­si­ble po­si­tion at a rm, but wanted to move to Ja­pan to start a new life. I could eas­ily draw par­al­lels with my old self, as I had quit one of the largest Ja­panese nance rms be­fore com­ing to In­dia. It wasn’t easy, though. I told him about my ex­pe­ri­ences and of tak­ing up

some­thing chal­leng­ing. A few weeks later, I got a mail from him, stat­ing that he’s mov­ing to Ja­pan, hav­ing re­ceived work­ing of­fers from IT rms there. Then I met him in Ja­pan when I went back home dur­ing va­ca­tions. I’m glad that our bond has only grown stronger with time!” Not al­ways is the city un­fa­mil­iar when you come here to live and study. Chandni Das, who’s born and brought up in Saudi Ara­bia, has paid some vis­its to the coun­try be­fore, dur­ing summer hol­i­days, but now that she’s liv­ing here for two years, she feels that Pune is richer in cul­ture and tra­di­tions, and bet­ter in ed­u­ca­tion. Also, as many oth­ers, she just loves the climate, cool and pleas­ant. But that doesn’t mean that life is all rain­bows and but­teries for them here. Hav­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tural back­grounds, eth­nic­i­ties and colours, for­eign stu­dents have their own set of prob­lems. Heedo re­calls be­ing mocked and called ‘ Chini, Chini’ (Chi­nese, Chi­nese). Yogita chips in, “Though I am in Pune from the last 6 years, I con­tinue to face prob­lems with re­gard to com­mu­ni­ca­tion, since there is a lan­guage bar­rier as I don’t un­der­stand Marathi. I’ve found that a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple refuse to adapt and will in­sist on con­vers­ing in Marathi, de­spite know­ing that I don’t un­der­stand it. There’s an at­tempt to force it down our throats. It sim­ply isn’t that way, nor does it help. I hope the peo­ple ad­just a lit­tle more to those who are new to the lan­guage.” Em e s h a , ag r e e i n g wi t h he r, con­tin­ues, “Though the cit­i­zens are good, some­times, they lack hos­pi­tal­ity. Be­ing a lit­tle friendly or un­der­stand­ing won’t hurt!” Elab­o­rat­ing fur­ther, Ryu­taro ex­plains, “The most an­noy­ing prob­lem that I have faced is traf­fic; it is be­com­ing more hay­wire with each pass­ing day. Ev­ery­body here is in a rush, though, as per my ob­ser­va­tion, most of them aren’t punc­tual and run late. Also, the peo­ple at the trafc sig­nal tend to get im­pa­tient very quickly. As soon as the sig­nal turns green from red, in­ces­sant honk­ing starts. Road ac­ci­dents claim many lives each year, and hence trafc ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness is the need of the hour here!” As for griev­ances, the in­ter­na­tional stu­dents have to face a lot of has­sles at the For­eign Regis­tra­tion Ofce (FRO). Each stu­dent has to pay mul­ti­ple vis­its to col­lect all the nu­mer­ous doc­u­ments from here, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s un­punc­tu­al­ity adds to the chaos. A lot of im­prove­ments have to be made in the over­all work­ing of the ofce, in or­der to make it more con­ve­nient for for­eign stu­dents. So, what sug­ges­tions do they have for us? Well, rstly, proper co-or­di­na­tion be­tween the ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes, the schol­ar­ship sys­tems and the FRO is a pri­or­ity. Se­condly, a sys­tem for look­ing af­ter lively in­ter­ac­tions and a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel needs to be es­tab­lished at col­leges, mak­ing this whole ride a lit­tle eas­ier and sup­port­ive. Also, it’s our at­ti­tudes that need to be ad­dressed. Dis­crim­i­na­tion against those who are not ‘like us’ needs to be erad­i­cated. The for­eign stu­dents’ main mo­tive to come here is to un­der­stand our cul­tures and tra­di­tions, which reect sub­tly yet loudly through our be­hav­iours and mind­sets. It’s our view­point that needs to be broad­ened to em­brace more for­eign stu­dents and vis­i­tors.

Fer­gus­son Col­lege

Ryu­taro Aoy­agi

Sav­it­ribai Phule Pune Uni­ver­sity

Sym­bio­sis In­sti­tute

Seiya Chida

Eme­sha Per­era

Chandni Das

Yasir Arafat

Yogita Tahilram

Heedo Kang

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.