Jitters of studying abroad!
Pursuing education in foreign land is exciting for some and terrifying for a few… what is the right approach towards this step… our experts share...
Pursuing education in a foreign land is exciting for some and terrifying for a few… what is the right approach towards this step… our experts share knowledge nuggets on this topic.
Q: I am a 19 years old guy. I am going to the United States for my undergraduate education. My problem is that I don't want to leave home. I have close ties with my family and cousins...I'm very close to my mother. Also, I don't think I can manage alone. My father is asking me to 'man up' and learn to be independent. He says I need a good education. Can I not study in my own country? How do I convince my family that I cannot manage on my own and that I am terrified and depressed?
Ans: Hi! Despite your reluctance, your first sentence starts on a future tone of "I am going to…" I understand that you are feeling quite worried that you will not be able to manage alone, as you are very close to your family and cousins. And I encourage you to ponder on physical distance, as it does not necessarily mean that you will be distancing yourself from the family in your heart. Also, thanks to technology you can always feel close to them by sharing information, advice, anecdotes through WhatsApp, Skype, videos etc.
You can have family meetings using technology and can be creative how you do it. Being close to mother is quite natural, but you also need to create your own space to grow, as you explore your identity in new spaces. You can try to communicate your closeness to family, to feel the emotional connect, no matter where you are. I suggest you try to not hold it against your father for wanting you to 'Man Up', though he is not seeing your point of view yet, perhaps in his eyes, living on one's own is an important life skill considering you have reached adulthood.
Also, pursuing under-grad courses in India is always an option, but, you have not mentioned your subjects of interest and goals for yourself. Your admission abroad is already in place and you have to leave some time for the academic year. Keeping reluctance aside, think about the opportunity that lies ahead for you, and it looks like your father has an ambition for you. Why not explore that? When you perceive this as some sort of punishment or an ordeal, you will miss the opportunity to grow and experience the world. Also, you can have an honest conversation about why this is important to him, and what he sees as your potential. Communication is the key. Your worry and fear of not managing on your own is your main concern here. Being close to family and cousins, one tends to not realise that they are developing the strength to be on their own. Please seek some counselling help to identify the root for the worry.
1. It could be self-esteem issues
2. History of bullying
3. Underdeveloped life skills like fending for self
4. Missing peer role models
5. Managing finances
6. General tendency for anxiety
For all this we need to
1. Start with the simple steps of learning basic life skills
2. Reaching out about perceived worries
3. Developing interpersonal skills, so that making friends is easier
4. Check how many of your seniors are pursuing what courses
5. In your choice, of course, look for the success stories
6. Inform yourself about the system, accommodation, rules, and lifestyle well in advance so that the transition is easier. There are plenty of YouTube videos describing college life abroad, and preparation for it. College/university counsellors are also quite helpful in counselling.
Your family orientation can now expand into world orientation. I am sure you can do well. All the best!
- Vasuprada Kartic, Anthroposophic Counsellor and Psychotherapist.
Q: I am 17 years old. I am an average student. My parents fight all the time...it is a very violent atmosphere at home. My grandfather is bedridden and is a very difficult person. I want to escape this dirty atmosphere. My only way is to do my undergraduate degree in the US. My parents are not allowing me. All my friends are going to the US. My parents want me home to take care of my grandfather. I want to run away from home if they don't send me. How can I convince them to send me?
Ans: My dear friend, wouldn't it be wonderful if we had wishes that came true at the snap of a finger? Wouldn't it be magical if everything was wonderful and bright and cheerful? It would! But it isn't! And that's the unfortunate thing about life.
Living in a household filled with strife can be extremely stressful and depressing. Sometimes adults are unable to contain their anger for each other due to various reasons and the anger spills out in full view of the other family members. This anger and the fights usually reflect the unhappy state of their relationship.
I'm sure this upsets you and probably also interferes with your relationship with them.
But then, adult relationships can be complicated sometimes.
My advice here would be to concentrate on your studies and try to divert your mind...it's all too easy to indulge in risky behaviour, drugs or alcohol to keep the angst away...but don't!
Talk to a friend or a confidant and try to let the steam out. Which parent is your 'go-to' person? Try talking to that parent and ask how you can help.
Believe me, your parents need all the comfort they can get. Constant strife can be stifling for them too.
Since you are old enough to suggest, why don't you advise them to seek professional help for their issues?
Good advice and therapy might put their ailing relationship back on track at least to some extent, which will, in turn, contribute to some peace of mind for you.
If they are not keen on seeking professional help, maybe it's time you sat them down and spoke to them about how the atmosphere at home is disturbing you.
Maybe sometimes, hearing how unhappy their child is, might prompt your parents to take remedial measures.
Now for your grandfather. An elderly person always needs love and understanding. As a person ages, sometimes pain, disability, or even dementia might set in making them stubborn, childlike and difficult.
Remember him when you were younger, wasn't it fun to be around your grandfather?
Didn't he play with you, feed you, tell you stories and entertain you?
Doesn't he deserve the same love, affection and care now that he is older and needs help?
Treat him with compassion and love and he may also become less demanding or difficult.
Dealing with problems always makes us stronger and more resilient.
Running away from our issues is too easy...but facing them and doing your bit to help, will go a long way.
Today it seems to have become a fad to do one's undergraduate studies abroad.
While education is very good, it's not like the education in your own country is any less. Study hard; study in the best of colleges, do your family proud and plan well for the future.
Also, conduct yourself dutifully and with empathy. You will become more independent, confident and your inner strength and resilience will shine forth and empower you for life!
I hope you will make a sound decision regarding your life!
- Dr Purnima Nagaraja, Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist.
- Do you have any relationship related queries or issues with your friends, loved ones or family? For informed advice by professionals, send in your questions to [email protected]