I am also one among the many students to leave my home for further study in hopes of getting a different way of education, experiencing new things and seeing a different life. What I do not like is the way people think about this. Majority of the ones who are eager to take up on the journey view it as a chance of better life, a joyous and comfortable life. I have been asked so many times about how is the life here: is it easy? No. Okay, it is not easy but not so hard right? Even if it is bit difficult, you still can go to the beach, have access to fast internet all the time, have much more fun than at home, can work and earn loads, right? And, I do not know how to answer to that. People have asked me how much I earn here. I tell them and they say “wow, it takes us a month or more to make what you can make there in a week”. But, what they do not understand is it takes me the same to spend that as well, even less to be truthful. And, I am not saying that spend on clothes and all, it is spent on the daily expenses. The first few days of getting here are the hardest, you miss home, you want to go back, you KNOW you can not, all the friends you know here are busy in their lives, you are free all day but no-one else is to show you around, talking to your parents makes you sad, not talking to your parents makes you sad. After these days, then comes the wave of worry. Where am I going to live? This accommodation is only temporary (if it is not temporary, you are luckier than most). How will I think of the uni fees? How am I going to find work? When will I start working? Will I be able to work? Will I be able to study? Why is everything so expensive here? How will I talk to people here? How will I learn the city, which road leads where? So many questions and you can answer none. Then, you start working and making your own life. New worries start now! Assignments! Tutorials! Lab reports! Quizzes! The system of education we have seen is one where you go to class for 7 hours, attend the lectures and study only for the exams. But now you have weekly or fortnightly submissions and, the hardest of all, plagiarism. All these new concepts hit you hard. As you are coping up with that and enjoying the end of semester as much as you can, census date (aka give all your money to the uni date) comes quietly and takes away all the happiness your good grades had brought. Most of the times, you hate your work but you have to do it. Unless you are among the kids of zillionaire family back home, you have to work thinking about your fees, your bills, your expenses and so on. Finally, all that work pays off and you are about to graduate! YAY! But, then all your relatives and friends back home start asking “So, what next?” “When are you coming back?”. And, you can not answer that either. Sure, I want to come home but can I? Sure, I want to have a good job that I got due to my qualifications instead of the part-time work I do but will I? You don’t want to continue working where you are working, you want to start something on your own or work as masters’ graduate somewhere. But, you have to. Sure, you will keep looking for opportunities but in the meantime you have to keep doing what pays the bills. The frustration that consumes you at this stage is so immense. You are faced with now-what’s everyday. Sometimes you can not sleep at night, your head starts pounding and all you can do is take some medicine and hope you will be able to get enough sleep before getting up for work tomorrow.
There are many people who might think, “It’s what you chose”, after hearing this kind of facts. I have seen people who taunt others who go overseas saying they ran away from their country, their home. People say you can not complain since you ran away, since staying in your own country was not good enough for you. Yes, I ran away. Yes, I did not want to stay back. I definitely wanted to leave. I am not ashamed or proud of that. And, no, I did not want to leave because the city was polluted; I had grown up in it. I did not want to leave because the country was corrupted; I had gotten used to it. I did not want to leave due to the electricity or water shortage; it had become a part of our lives. I left hoping for a different life, a life I would build for myself. I left hoping for a better education. I left hoping for a chance to survive on my own. I left to leave the comforts of my home and see what was out there. I had never been away from home before this, and I wanted to experience that. I left because I was tired of the way our outdated traditions were still gripping us. No matter how educated and qualified you are, no matter how broad-minded you think you are, people can not let go of the bad aspects of the culture they were brought up in. We are the part of culture where we have to think about what others think. We have to be very careful of what we wear, what we eat in order to avoid hearing negative comments. I did not like having to be careful about what I was going to wear and how people would talk about me. Because even if I wanted to not care, people still talked. Here, I can be all dolled up or I can wake up and leave home straight-away and no one would look at me twice. No-one cares what you are wearing or where you are working or how you are living your life. I am not saying I do not like our traditions and culture. I am simply saying that we still have not let go of the bad parts that are in it. Thankfully, my parents never craved for a son, me and my sister were good enough for them. Even in today’s modern Nepal, even to the educated people, my parents had to explain that their daughters were all they needed. Here, when people (excluding people from my and our neighboring country) ask me about my siblings and I tell them it is me and my sister, they do not ask “No brothers?”. There are so many other things that I wish would change back home.
Lets talk about another thing I absolutely can not stand that is a major issue back home. It is girls during their periods. Once again, thankfully I grew up in a household where my parents never told me or my sister not to touch something or not to go somewhere just because we were on our periods. Maybe that is the reason I never felt like it is a bad thing, something so horrific that you can not go to a temple or touch anything associated with God during that time. I do not think it is wrong of my grandmother to think like this or maybe even my mother, because that is what they were told as they were growing up. We, on the other hand, who were raised in the “modern-time”; it should be different for us. I mean we know what that is and why and everything. I do not understand why till this day all of my girlfriends think it is a sinful offence to go inside a temple while you are on your period. I mean, if you are really in a bad position in your life, do you not, in your heart, pray to God even though you are on your period? You do, you do pray and ask God for this and that. So, then why? Why can you not be a part of the festivities? Why is it such a bad thing to be touching just a mere representation? I keep saying this to my friends over and over but this is something where no-one is with me.
The other thing is all the caste-difference thing that is still prominent in our country. When I meet someone new, I ask for their name, and if they tell me their first name only, I definitely do not ask for their last. I know many people do this to maybe know more about the person (like maybe if they might have the same last name as one of their friends or something) but I have seen people who do this and evaluate people according to their surname (their caste). And, I hate that. I have seen “oh-so-educated-and-modern-people-with-a-higher-degree” regarding some castes as higher or better and some as worse. I have met some of the “really-talented-educated” people talking ill of people just because they have a certain surname. What is the point of being all-educated and everything if you are going to dwell on things like this? Me and my boyfriend are not from the same caste and many times this has made me very scared about our future. Because, I know it is a big thing back home and it might even be a deal-breaker in many cases (though not as much now-a-days). I fell in love with a person, not with his name or background or history or whatever! And, I ask myself, why should I be scared? We are both doing well in life (well, at least as well as we can), we are educated, self-sufficient and mature enough to take decisions. Then, why do I think like things would not go as smoothly as we want back home? Because, of the society we live in. Our parents would accept it, but there are others who would make it hard for them to take that decision. And, I really do hate that. Here, no one cares or asks about that. I know, why would they, they do not know about all the things that go in our society and I am happy for that. That is why I feel like life here is much easier in this sense, even though there are other problems. And, do not even get me started on the topic of weddings and people who are ever-so-keen to play the match-makers and wedding planners as soon as you graduate.
Whenever I talk to friends about problems back home, I talk of these things. I know there are others problems but the main one for me is holding on the things that we should not be holding on to. I just talked about few things I did not like personally. These thoughts and beliefs that are still present in our country acted as some factors that made me decide to go abroad. You can basically say I wanted the freedom in the way of living. I am not saying I do not like my home, my society or I wanted to run away from them. All, I want to say is that there were certain things that I really could not stand and I wanted to be free of them. Life is hard for everyone everywhere, then why make it harder by all these extra unnecessary things? I talk like this and many people have regarded me as I am out of my mind to be saying all this. It all should change with the way you think; our lifestyle has changed a lot now-a-days but the way we think not so much. And, one more thing. Many people ask me in a sort-of-patronizing tone, “So, you want to stay there even after finishing your studies? You are not going to return for good?”. How can I not want to? If you came here to study by yourself, worked your way to the uni, not on a scholarship so that you did not have to work not just for your living but for the skyrocketing uni fees as well, you will not be content to return immediately after your graduation. You know how hard you have worked, and I mean literally worked, and that changes your way of thinking. I do not want to come back for good yet. No, I did not do all the things that I have done ever since coming here just to return after my graduation. Simple as that. What I am writing is all jumbled and out of track and many things in one post but I have been wanting to write about this for so long. And, when I started writing about one thing, others kept popping in my head and then it got all jumbled. But, anyway, that is the way I feel.