What It’s Like to Be an Indian Student in the UK
Watching English movies and following the latest news regarding the Royal family may be all that an Indian person experiences of British culture, until they become an Indian student in the UK. While it is a dream come true for many, as studying in the UK opens doors to endless opportunities back home in India, the experience of an Indian student in the UK can be both exciting and rowdy.
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Money and work
Being an Indian student in the UK is equally prestigious in terms of job and business opportunities in the UK and back home. However, the one thing that will plague an Indian student in the UK the most is the dreaded pound sterling. To clarify, the pound itself is not actually scary, disturbing is the fact that its discrepancy in value from the Indian rupee cannot be overstated enough. The pound sterling is currently worth 100 INR, making budgeting difficult. Thus, an Indian student in the UK looking for leisure all the time may have to splurge their parents' savings. However, those that wish to find part-time jobs to handle their budget will come across numerous opportunities for work at fast-food restaurants, stores, bars, and even in their own university. Employment agencies, the university's career portal, and friends can all help in finding employment opportunities. While all people in the UK are friendly, there is nothing wrong with asking a fellow Indian from your hometown to help you find an appropriate job. British Indians are always happy to help out their people from back home and have a lot of contacts to make the job hunt much more effective and efficient.
With so many things to do in the UK and so many places to see, it may be difficult for an Indian student to juggle between school, leisure, and work. However, it is not impossible if you are dedicated enough. If you think working will affect your studies, then try to only focus on your studies as there is plenty of time to make money later.
While the British left India more than half a century ago, Indian culture can still easily relate to British culture. Although both cultures are highly disparate, Indian students in the UK are not likely to feel uncomfortable. Meeting people from Italy, Spain, Morocco, United States, France, and all other countries can be highly enriching for an Indian student in the UK. Although some people may continuously ask rather stereotypical questions and have particular perceptions regarding what being an Indian is like, it is rather enjoyable explaining to them about Indian culture and discovering their culture at the same time.
Being aware of different cultures and being multi-lingual is always an added advantage for a professional, and an Indian student in the UK can fully benefit from this opportunity to gain as much cross-cultural experience as possible. With the immense popularity of India, there is a high chance that people from other countries are just as excited about meeting Indians as Indians are when meeting them or even more so. This particularly eases up interaction and allows for life-long friendships to develop.
Life in the UK
The most difficult part of living in the UK is not the unpredictable weather and definitely not the afternoon tea, but probably it is understanding the many accents in different cities or even parts of London. It seems that once you get the hang of one and travel to a different city, you come across a whole different one, not to mention the various accents you come across from people of different countries other than the UK! Sure, the English accent is rather classy but it may take some time for an Indian student to be able to say the "er" in words such as "water" and "border" the same way.
While the British cuisine is lovely, Indian restaurants and food are easily available in every city of the UK. However, for an Indian student in the UK, there still may be nothing like mum's home-cooked biryani. While in the UK you can still visit temples, mosques, and other religious sites, and there are many parties dedicated to the traditional Diwali, Independence Day, Eid, and others, there still may be nothing like rubbing colour on the faces and clothes of your friends/family on Holi back home.
So although nostalgia does sooner or later hit you, the UK is the closest you can get to home away from home. Thinking of taking the plunge?
Read this success story interview by Indian graduate Sivagaminathan Sivasubramanian to see how a Masters degree truly shapes a great career: The MSc That Made Me a Confident Young Professional