Study Abroad: Indian students in London

Indian students: what is it like to study abroad in London? Read below to discover all of the details of such an exciting city!

Namaste, my fellow Indian students in London. I admit that sounded very clichéd-I will start again. Greetings! I am an Indian student in London. That said, I think I should be able to brief you about the changes that you will face as you travel across the sea to study abroad. Suffice to say, I hope you find a better education, and not just better booze.

FOR GOURMANDS

There is absolutely no shortage of Indian food in London. But, as is very common with Indian mothers, I am sure yours has sent over an annual supply of authentic Indian food. In particular, the spices, ghee, maybe sweets, and what not. I know that mine did and I had a lovely 6 months gorging on it during my study abroad. However, the supply does exhaust and you feel stranded on a desert island with no comfort food. Did you really think that would happen? Maybe or maybe not. But the food somehow does finish.  You heave a sigh of relief, as you really did not want to throw it away.

But where to turn to now? Where can you get that fix from home? Fortunately, there are so many decent and affordable restaurants in London to cater to the growing Indian diaspora. Hence, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Tesco sells ready-to-cook dal, biryani, chole, sag, and even roti.  These are foods, I know well- I live on them. Eastham or Southhall serves me particularly well, when I am feeling homesick. I promise you that when you go there, you will get a strong whiff of India immediately.

OF INDIA SOCS

King’s College, where I go to school, has a very active India Society. I know the same exists at UCL, LSE, and Imperial. Each  makes sure to celebrate every festival with enthusiasm during the experience of study abroad. They also organize periodic balls, movie nights, and nights out. At some events (like Jashn), King’s/UCL/LSE/Imperial collaborate to produce a spectacular event. These events become the topic of jokes and conversation for many days after. The Diwali Boat Party is a great hit with every Indian student in London. I am saying this even though I did not attend it (I had a networking event at HSBC). Holi is due to be celebrated on the 8th or 9th of March, I really cannot remember when and it is expected to be a magnificent affair.

What’s one of the most fun parts of these events? You can bring your non-Indian friends and show them the glory of the golden bird that is India. Recently, there was a screening of 3 Idiots at Guy’s Campus and I saw people from many different countries who were also on study abroad. I know this for a fact because I went with one French, one British-South African, and one British-Indian. What am I trying to convey? If you feel that you will be one lone person in a sea of millions, dont. There are societies whose sole purpose is to make you feel welcome and part of a group.

CONSIDERATION?

To be very honest, London is not predominantly a British city. I am pretty sure you already know that. Let me reassert something. Almost everyone that you meet in London comes from a different country. They reside in London because it is a global business city-much like New York and Shanghai. Everybody is in the same boat. Therefore there is a common understanding of cultural adjustment. You do not need to walk a mile in anybody’s shoes to be aware of common situations-keep that in mind before trying to fish for sympathy.

I, personally, do not like people who expect to be elevated on a pedestal just because they are undergoing change. Everybody is, especially during study abroad. That said, do treat others with the consideration with which you expect to be treated. You will be living and spending time with people from different cultures. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not hurt anyone’s national/cultural sentiments.

Let’s just say-tread very carefully. Above all, I say this because some things that are very common in India are not common in London. My advice to you is to watch and learn.

For instance-the subway in New Delhi, although not more crowded than the one in London, is infinitely worse in terms of manners. All I am saying is, please take into account what others around you are doing before behaving in a socially unacceptable manner.

University life is supposed to be the best time of a person’s life-you can really live it up. But do not forget the purpose of your study abroad-a pristine education. I arrived here just six months ago. I was immediately bewildered by the stark contrast between India (where I had lived for 17 years of my life) and London.

However, I eventually found my footing.With that said, there is nowhere that I want to be more than in London. The city is vibrant and full of life. The opportunities are in abundance. It is your choice how you decide to spend your time and resources. Have fun, do crazy things, but also remember that this is just one phase, and you have to craft the next one for yourself.

Eeshita Pande