Aakash Lohia is the lone foreign student to join IIM-Lucknow this year, but there is more to the latest academic breakthrough of the Nepali youth.
For, the 23-year-old management aspirant could have opted for the GMAT route to get into the autonomous public school here. He did write—and clear, scoring high marks—the Graduate Management Admission Test as an international student, yet appeared for the Common Admission Test (CAT) and interview to enroll at IIM-L.
“Writing the CAT and appearing for the interviews was a learning experience in itself,” says Lohia, whose father and sister graduated from India. “It was my first chance to compete with the huge talent pool in India.”
To compete with more than 2.5 lakh students and then to get selected would be “incomparable” to taking the easy way to the campus, noted the student, hailing from a middle-class family in Kathmandu, where his father Gopal Kumar Lohia is a civil engineer. “The whole experience was more rewarding than it would have been had I taken the easier route.”
Lohia, who is now a class representative too, noted that the general trend in Nepal was to go to either America or India for higher studies. “India was my first choice, being culturally close to Nepal,” added the youth, whose sister is married and settled in Lucknow.
Lohia, who is fond of playing the piano, described the “diversity and the level of talent” of students on the campus of the 1984-established IIM-L as “amazing”.
“It makes me feel privileged to be a part of this group,” he said. “I have made very good friends. They make me feel at home and also help me learn and understand all the Indian things that they do.”
Alongside management lessons, Lohia is learning from his pals about Indian festivals, holidays and local social norms. “In return, I try to teach them the Nepali way of doing things. Learning each other’s culture is fun,” he said.
Even the faculty has been wonderful to him. “The moment I set foot on the campus, I feel the enormity of the institute and the expectations from students,” Lohia said.
The hosteller also quoted instance of an IIM-L teacher speaking Nepali. “He is so good that he invites me to his place for some Nepali food,” he said.
Lohia has not felt much of a cultural difference, while interacting with fellow students. “There are some things new and unfamiliar to me, but I am picking up. Students range from 29 states; each one has a completely different set of ideologies,” he said, and spelt out certain newly-learnt Hindi words—with an accent: khabo, dhabo, ghumabo.
For Lohia, a late riser, his days here start at 8:30 am. “The time spent eating at the mess is always the best to catch up with friends. After class, there is routine work, which I follow up with a nap of an hour or two,” he added.
Around 5 or 6 in the evening, he visits the library to complete the assignments “Here, afternoons are at 7 pm, evenings at 11 pm and nightfall is at 2 am. The day ends for me after 3 or 4 in the mornings,” he said.
Lohia finds the late-night culture a “very interesting” aspect of life at IIM-L. “There is energy and activity 24 hours a day.”
The flip side was the extreme climate, he said. “This city does not have typical Nepali food.”