Why students study abroad? Maria interviews her first student – Priya
Short and sweet Bio: Priyanka – or Priya – has been a post secondary student in Singapore for almost three years now. She is originally from Lucknow, a city in Northern India South East of New Delhi. She came to Singapore for her undergrad in computer engineering at the Nanyang Technological Institute. Priya is an only child and just celebrated her twenty first birthday. Her mother, a teacher, and father, a business owner, were both supportive of Priya’s decision to study abroad.
I chatted with Priya over frothy drinks at a chocolate bar, one of many in malls across Singapore (yup, they have those. Delicious, in case you are wondering or had any doubts.)
Why Singapore?: It was a safe decision, she says, but still a good place to experience new cultures, meet new people, and broaden your horizons. “That is what it is all about, getting away from what you are use to.” On top of this Singapore offers amazing incentives for foreign students to study in the country. Priya explains that 75 per cent of her tuition is paid for by the government here. The offer comes with a stipulation though – she says – she is obligated to work in Singapore for three years after her graduation, though she is free to choose when and where this happens.
Was it hard or scary to leave home?: Priya recalls that she was too excited to be really scared about moving to Singapore. She admits that traveling alone as a woman can be tricky but “it depends on your attitude,” she says, “if you are vigilant you will be okay.” She admits that her parents sometimes worry about her but she knows that they trust her to make good decisions for the future.
Do you miss home?: “I miss it occasionally, mostly when there are [Hindu] festivals and such.” Home is hard to replace but she says that many Indians travel or move to other countries – Singapore being a popular destination – so it makes it less difficult to leave home when, as she says, “you don’t really feel like you are outside India because there are so many Indians here.”
What happens after school?: “I can’t wait to finish school and start traveling!” While she is not very specific, Priya says she can see herself in North America or Europe in the near future. I ask if there is anywhere in the world she would be scared of traveling to: “New York.” We laugh and she explains that the main reason is not fear as much as the thought that the people are unfriendly and pushy.
What have you heard about Canada?: Priya said that her opinion of Canada is influenced by TV shows, movies and people she has met from Canada. “You guys are so friendly and nice. You apologize even if you didn’t do anything wrong!”
After my chat with Priya I find myself even more interested to learn why other people decide to travel and/or study abroad. Is it important to have a family to encourage you, a financial incentive or just simply the guts to do it? Priya seems to have all of the above but it makes me curious about others. And so with that lingering question, I power down my computer and say goodnight with the promise to continue my search tomorrow!