The Embassy of France in India and the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) recently conducted their pre-departure orientation for students going to the respective countries.
The sessions included discussions around the entire gamut of issues faced by students, from pre-travel arrangements, airport formalities, port-of-entry procedures, visa requirements, housing, social security and insurance, medical emergencies, to the role of the international student-offices and travelling to other countries during semester breaks.
Rohan Jain, currently in his fourth year of the fiveyear integrated Master’s course in engineering in INSA, Lyon, in France, says, that for a newcomer, it is difficult when the language is alien. Counselling sessions like these, which often have alumni discussing their experiences and advising newcomers, are helpful to students who are unaware of the procedures.
“One faces a linguistic challenge right from the moment s/he lands in Paris. It stretches to food, especially for vegetarians like me, since in France, ‘vegetarians’ have fish and eggs too. I have been cooking my own food for the last four years,” says Rohan.
However, once one becomes familiar to the environment, there is no place like France with its familyoriented people and with the European countries around as a ready to travel option, Rohan adds.
For Abhinabh Chaddha, who is going to ISEP, Paris, for a three-semester course in communications applications with an Orange scholarship of Euro 1000 permonth for 10 months, followed by an internship, the diversity of France and the presence of major companies in the engineering and telecom domain are a great draw.
Counselling sessions also introduce students to the granular details; for example, the requirement of students travelling to France to carry five copies of every important document translated in French; or the alumni advising students going to universities in the US to treat college as if it were work.
One trend that has been noticed of late is of students from India going to the US universities to pursue undergraduate studies. Venkata Shiva Mandala, who is going to the Oberlin College in Ohio, US, for a Bachelor’s in biology and computer science, says, “One reason that undergraduate programmes are gaining popularity is because amalgamated courses are not available in India; also, there is a research-orientation in the education system of the US.” Add to that aid in terms of scholarships like the one that Venkata has received (Rs 16 lakh per year).
Agrees Mallika Seth, who is headed for the Georgia Institute of Technology to pursue a Bachelor’s in aerospace engineering: “The education system there is more about holistic learning than learning in compartments, and it is a much more stimulating study environment.”