While on the topic of cultural differences, remember that while the authorities may seem to be very lax as compared to the strictness at home, this is not across the board. When it comes to age restrictions on tobacco, drinking and the ban on drugs of any kind, many international laws are super-strict — which comes as a surprise to many Indian students. Singapore, for example, has a very strict anti-drug policy, with harsh punishments and even the death penalty meted out mercilessly. It pays to learn the rules and age regulations of the new country and stick to them. Similarly, schools abroad are very vigilant about copying, cheating in exams, plagiarising etc, and with increasingly sophisticated anit-plagiarising software available, cheating in coursework can be found out in an instant. One black mark on one’s academic record could damage one’s academic career forever. The college system in most countries expects a lot of self-regulation, a concept that may be somewhat alien to students from India.
I liked the new place, independent lifestyle, the extremely liberal set up. What was difficult to balance initially was the rigorous work load, while trying to live a ‘college’ life.
- Shreyas Kumar
It is very understandable that the newness and unfamiliarity of the environment can be overwhelming, and it is very likely that Indian students will gravitate towards a fellow Indian or desi. After all, who better to understand the differences between the ways here and the ways back home, and who else will understand this confusion about accents, foods and new experiences than another brown girl or boy? However, do encourage your child to make new friends, both other international students and those from the host culture. It is important to ensure that she has a good mix of friends of all cultures – isn’t an international experience one of the main reasons she is abroad, anyway? Our advice is to consciously develop a friends’ circle of both international and Indian friends, as your child will get something valuable from both types of friendships.
Your child will be managing her daily life by herself for the first time in her life, and considering that this new independence is in a foreign country, it is like being thrown in at the deep end! While most students do very well for themselves, being prepared does a lot to prevent any mishaps, either big or small, that could mar a happy and fun time at school. Here are some things to know and discuss with your child.