Do Indian Women Find it Easy to Study Abroad?

Women find it easier to adapt to change and can adjust to new environments. Apparently then, women will find studying abroad easier than their male counterparts. Yet, there is a gender disparity when compared to the number of men going abroad to study. That gulf is narrowing and more women are overcoming the triple barriers of education cost (versus the money saved for marriage), security apprehensions and cultural sensitivities.

Why is it getting easier?

“Being away from all that I had known for most of my life made me be surer in my own skin. I developed my female smarts and had a great time discovering my potential studying in the UK”  – Kajol (MHA Graduate)

Career prospects have always been the top reason why parents invest in their sons studying abroad. Economic betterment is now extended to daughters as well and that is why the gender gap has begun to narrow. The change today is that more women are realising that their dreams need not be limited. More women are walking into our IEC centres to talk to our advisors. They come fully prepared, having researched what career options they would like to pursue. What they ask us is about scholarships to fund their study, other universities that could be a better option and placement opportunities.

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Common challenges to be prepared for

Going abroad can seem a little daunting.  Experiences of women who have made the same journey before you are absolute proof that you can do it.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

– Frank A. Clark

Culture Shock

Every country has its own culture. The first thing to remember is to stop comparing. One thing you should do is read up on what is acceptable and what is not. Simple things like calling a person by their name can be considered very disrespectful in certain regions.

Like culture and native ideologies, social etiquettes also vary to a great extent based on your location on the globe. While a firm handshake is the way to go in the UK, a kiss on the check is a typical greeting in France. Looking a person in the eye while conversing might be casual in most places of the world, but it is considered offensive in certain parts of Mexico. The list of different social etiquettes of different areas is never-ending, and hence it is always better to passively observe the locals. Within no time, you will know their way of life like you were born to it.

There is nothing better than an account of someone’s personal experience. Try to connect with a woman who has already been to your host country. Get to know the problems she faced and the solutions she got to. This way you will get the inside track of what to be aware of.

No matter what, be yourself. You don’t have to give up your personal beliefs and ideologies to adapt and have an excellent time. You don’t have to do anything you are uncomfortable with just for the sake of fitting in.

Don’t restrict yourself to hanging out only with international Indian students. Though familiarity can help ease homesickness. The study abroad experience is also about networking so make new friends by joining new activities at your university.

Better safe than sorry

Awareness in this area is an absolute must for any student studying abroad. Women though have to look out for a few more safety hazards. Don’t get scared, being aware is usually the best precaution. Most of the university areas around the world are safe with good security and student communities,

Keep informed of the emergency services. This should be top priority in your list of things to know while abroad. From accidents to crimes, you need to know who to call, the numbers of emergency services, their response time and their office locations.

Every country in the world will have its own set of shady places and sketchy neighbourhoods that are dangerous not only for women but for everyone in general. As a foreigner, you need to educate yourself before you set out exploring the area to your heart’s content. Talk to a few friendly locals and avoid areas that are dark and sketchy. Keep to brightly lit places with a lot of people.

Captions like lonesome traveller and wanderlust might sound great for your Instagram posts. But don’t kickstart the explorer in you as soon as you reach the new land. Make memories with friends by exploring the area in groups. It is especially important to have company while travelling at night. Leave back in India all your expensive jewellery. When traveling, dress simply to blend in with the crowd. And never leave your drink unattended at any time.

No hitchiking. You are in a foreign land pursuing your passion in your dream university! You are going to have the time of your life. This includes a whole lot of travelling. Getting a cab from the mall to your room or getting a ride to the nearest town is something that you might need to do. Never hitchhike and only get lifts from people you know personally. When it comes to getting cabs, only use reputed services and always make sure that your friends know your whereabouts.

Safety tips when accomodation hunting

 Most international students stay at university-provided accommodation. This is the safest option as the universities take great effort for the safety and wellbeing of its students. But if you want to move into an off-campus apartment with friends, who is to stop you? Just research in advance about the locality and be very selective about the people you room with.

Beware of scams, many of them on Facebook accomodation groups. Some of these apartments may not exist. Some advertisers might get you to pay up a security deposit for an accomodation that is not theirs. If you are visiting a location that is new to you, try getting a friend to tag along with you.

The benefits of being an international student and the opportunities to reach great professional heights make global education a practical choice for any career-focused woman. Adapting to a new country will make you develop skills that are going to help you when you start job hunting. 92% of employers are looking for soft skills that are gained from adapting to new challenges. As an Indian woman in a country abroad, you will now have those skills in spades.