Going abroad for higher studies
Aren’t you going abroad?” This is the question most of the students asked me in the colleges I was associated with three years ago. It might have been a suitable and obvious question from young minds of teenage years studying in higher secondary level of Nepal, but it pained my heart when many of them advised me, “Never make the mistake of coming back to this country once you go abroad.” From the data of the past few years, more than 50 per cent of the students go abroad immediately or within a few months after they clear plus two exams, especially from reputed colleges of Kathmandu. The same was true when I was associated as a head of science in a reputed plus two college in Kathmandu. Among the other 50 per cent left, majority of them enrolled in foreign universities a year after plus-two graduation.
Undergraduate students have their aspiration about going abroad too. In one of the colleges I was associated as a Biology faculty member for the third year’s students (four year course), the number of students was half the total intake on completion of the first year. The reason was a credit transfer to foreign universities. That was the case without any formal credit-transfer relationships of that college with any foreign universities. The rate of undergraduates going abroad would be much higher if the institution had any collaboration or credit transfer facilities with foreign universities. There are again large number of students applying or flying abroad for master’s degree after completing undergraduate level in Nepal.
What strikes my mind is that among those thousands of students going abroad, do we have even hundreds coming back to our country when they finish their studies? The straightforward answer, according to a few dozen Nepali students abroad is “No” at this moment. Still, a positive aspect is to find many of them willing to return to Nepal if the political situation of the country gets better. But, they don’t generally do so unless they find that there is a safe working environment in the country or at least the political turmoil over. It has been three years since I left Nepal for my higher education. When I told my friends that I was leaving Nepal and would definitely return to the country as soon as I finished my studies, I was straightway told that there were many youths who say so but the majority of them haven’t returned. I was further challenged that they would love to hear the same sentiments of returning to Nepal after staying a few months abroad. After staying a year, I realized, they were probably right. I thought, it would be quite difficult to return, but as time passed, I am losing the fancy of staying abroad. I would rather return back to Nepal and live a life in my own society. The small thing we do for Nepal would make a better impact than in these developed countries. I would be happy to do small things and make a better impact on the Nepali society rather than doing comparatively a bigger thing and making hardly any impact here.
In these three years, I am still confused as to what makes many Nepalis stay forever in a foreign land. Is it just money here, or a life style? When it comes to life style, I wouldn’t agree. Even though, I am not sure of the level of life style of Nepalis in many other countries, a vast majority of Nepalis in England don’t have their life style matching the people here. They all still love Nepali food (Dal, bhat and tarkari), live in below average house, hardly have any night life, they are not generally regular in going out for dinner or expensive cinema like the western people do. I haven’t seen many Nepalis travelling to other countries or even local areas to explore the culture, see the places or to entertain themselves. Then, is it just saving money that fancies them? If this is the case, my opinion is that life is more than just earning money when you have a level of materialistic satisfaction. I am not convinced by the fact that life abroad is better than in Nepal. Life is far more blissful in our own country because after you have earned enough to live in a decent house, and live a relaxed, healthy life and educate your children.
When I stayed in Nepal for seven-weeks last April-May for a holiday, I probably surprised my friends saying I would like to return to my country as soon as I finished my PhD, even though I may have options staying back and have possibilities of getting well-paid jobs. I was advised to think pragmatically in a sense that hollow-patriotism wouldn’t do any good. I was guided that my monetary contribution or other assistance to the deprived in Nepal would be better than my mere physical presence either as NRNs who are contributing to Nepal in different areas. I thought, it is pretty much a good thought, however, living in our country with our countrymen, contributing as much as we can to your soil, and if possible, making differences to those who don’t have privilege to go to even a school would make us the happiest, and I guess, our physical presence makes things far more easier than living abroad. Lastly,
I have passed the phase of being asked, “When are you going abroad?” I am now eager to hear from my friends, family and relatives “When are you returning to Nepal?” I am sure; with changing Nepali youths those days are not far.
source: PANGENI,RAJENDRA(2013),"Going abroad for higher studies", The Himalayan Times,24 jan 2013
photo art: The Himalayan Times
Pangeni is a PhD Scholar, University of Wolverhampton, UK
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