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Become an all-rounder

An education abroad means more than getting a degree. Face life forearmed with these guidelines, says Chitra Jha.

education Updated: Jul 14, 2009 17:26 IST

Curry bashing' is currently on the minds young Indians aspiring to study abroad. With so many of their countrymen attacked in Australia, they (as well as their parents) are naturally wary. Should they, shouldn't they? But not all places in all countries are unsafe and it pays to do your research and set some guidelines for yourself before you catch the next flight out to your dream institution. Keep these points in mind…

Before you leave, acquire a working knowledge of the language of the country you are headed for. Once there, you must work at being fluent at it. Language is a great tool for making yourself at home among strangers.

It is important to learn about the institution's traditions and sensibilities to avoid making any faux pas and getting into unnecessary trouble.

Never lose sight of your primary reason for being in the foreign country. Focus on your studies; that is your foremost responsibility. It is quite easy to get carried away by the attractions of a new country. But overindulgence will not get you anywhere, hard work will.

You may have read all about a place's culture before you got there, but be prepared to experience a cultural shock. No amount of reading prepares you for the real thing. Adapt to the culture and traditions of the land. Doing as the Romans do helps… usually.

Foreign countries can be exciting in the beginning, but soon the novelty wears off and one tends to get homesick. Making friends can help you overcome this. But do not go looking only for other Indian students; befriend locals, too. Don't be shy of stretching yourself.

Go around and discover all the facets of student life. Participate in on- and off-campus events.

Do not crib about the place you live in. It does not help to blame a country for all your troubles and inconveniences. It is just a part of the transition, and you should be ready for it.

In short, remain open to accepting a different culture and a different way of doing things. Studying abroad is not just about getting a degree; it is about holistic all-round growth.

The author is a life skills coach, time-line therapist, and new consciousness writer. She can be contacted at chitrajhaa@gmail.com.