I recently spoke with a friend, mentioning India as a potential place to study and they were taken aback. They could never imagine living or studying there. I was confused by this, as India seems to me to be a phenomenal place to go to university, at the very least on first glance:
- Rich, diverse and storied culture
- Incredible food
- English is commonly spoken
- Notably cheap
- Delicious cuisine
- Developing culture means lots of social and business opportunities
- Exceptional edibles
That was about all I understood, to be honest, so I decided to research a little more closely and see whether my friend or I was right: is India a great place to study?
Breadth of Culture
Culture seems to me to be one of those vague things people say is good about a place. How do you really define culture? By a place’s music, art, food and religion? Or perhaps its laws, morals and customs? If either or both of these is true for all places, wouldn’t everywhere have a good ‘culture’ then? Surely by being different to one’s own, another’s culture is ‘better’ in some way? There is always something to gain, right? Why, then, does India have a better culture than, say, Easter Island?
The answer is simple: depth and variety.
What do you picture when you imagine India? Lots of colour, lots of temples, lots of people, right? India has a superior culture to most countries because of the sheer number of options its inhabitants are provided with. Every day has the potential to teach.
This is especially valuable for students, as every day, even outside of the classroom, becomes an opportunity to grow. India itself has learned many lessons during its complex, interesting history and they are available for you to see if you look closely enough.
Whether it be in your thriving, local neighbourhood, marked by the variety of people to speak with and learn from, or further afield in the vastness of India, viewing awe-inspiring beauty and consequence; you will certainly develop a greater understanding of culture and your place within it.
Beautiful, Involving Landscapes
Part of the reason India has so much depth is because the place is enormous. It is filled to the brim with ancient temples, beautiful palaces, grand geological formations, the fortresses of kings, stunning vistas and irreplaceable British Victorian architecture.
There’s the Taj Mahal, of course, but make sure you don’t miss out on: Humayun’s Tomb, the Himalayas (!), the Golden Temple, the Ganges (!!), innumerable places of worship, the stunning beaches of Goa, and the opportunity to see both glaciers and desert sands. And this barely scratches the surface.
There’s simply so much to gain just by being near these spiritual, eternal-like places. There’s nowhere else on the planet that compares.
Quality of Education
Despite India’s beauty, there is often a feeling that the country lacks the economy or infrastructure to be a true superpower. Historically, that is generally true, though that is fortunately changing for the better.
India has been ranked in the top 25 countries in the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings 2016 and is particularly marked by its strong performance in engineering, technology and science. Strong and prestigious universities include the Indian Institutes of Technology, such as the one in Bangalore, as well as the universities of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and the Banaras Hindu University. A total of 23 institutions are included in the QS University rankings of Asia.
And this is just the beginning. For a country that only (relatively) recently gained independence, India has really come a long way and it is set to improve a great deal in the coming years. Whereas a great deal of talent used to leave India to study overseas, that has steadily been reversing since the early 2000s.
So why not be a part of this monumental shift? India has a growing number of young people expected to be part of a strong workforce. Moving there to study is a chance to be part of a growing movement, even a new era in India. Where there is change there is opportunity, after all.
India is a newly industrialised country meaning it is growing economically very rapidly, a scenario in which it is very wise to invest time and money. As a graduate of India, you are granted a prime space in which to start a business, tap into new markets or garner investment as other countries begin to pour money there.
This environment also means like-minded people will be congregating. A great deal of rich and eager entrepreneurs, both potential and current, from across the world are finding themselves in India.
Even if your goal is not to start a business, this environment greatly increases job opportunities and the economy of India generally. Those of student age or younger will hope to make the most of this new business arena and the opportunities to work, intern or volunteer for start-ups are ripe. There will be chances to meet new people, network globally and sow the seeds for a future international career.
According to a recent article from The Telegraph, India is one of the 10 cheapest countries in the world to study at just £3629.62 (US$4835.78) to study per year. That’s tuition combined with living costs by the way. I cannot emphasise how little that is. It’s more than 5 times less than the cost of studying in the UK (around £21000) and about 6 times less than studying in the US (around £24000). That is just staggeringly cheap.
This allows for a lot of opportunity to travel the majesty of the country; you can travel first class a lot more often when making those kind of savings. Travel can also be peanuts if that’s what you are interested in. Sleeper trains, rickshaws and buses cost very little. Road trips can be fascinating affairs (if a little bumpy) through the tea estates of Darjeeling, the holy Ganges, to the Taj Mahal, or wherever you fancy.
You really have not tried Indian food until you have been there yourself. A cliché yes, so, so true in this case.
Have you had Chai breaks with samosas during the day? Succulent indigenous fruits? An immense variety of vegetarian and vegan options? Home cooked naan? Endless tea and coffee shops bustling with youthful activity? Chapatti? Masala crisps? Thums Up? The intoxicating scent of street food?
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
Coming back from India is an experience in itself. It’s tricky to describe. Perhaps it’s the religious aspect, its vibrant and youthful politics, the poetry and wisdom, the sports, the vast population, the monsoons or the passion of the people, but India just grabs you and you become one with it.
It’s not unexpected for returnees to miss the country deeply and feel fundamentally altered after the experience. Steve Jobs famously visited India where he learned the values of focus and simplicity, two principles he imbued in every business he was a part of and two that can define Apple products to this day.
You will be inspired to travel more, learn as much as possible and it will mature you in a way that very few other places can. Enlightenment is common there and returning back to normal life may never feel quite right. What you’re feeling is your development as a person, an experience that is impossibly strong in India more so than any other place.
India is big and messy and it resists classification in so many ways. There really is no other way to experience it other than going there. Perhaps this is what my friend felt when he dismissed India, as he just knew so little about it.
But you should not be ignorant of beauty out of laziness, especially a place that allows such improvement and fulfilment as India. A place where you can become the best possible version of yourself. And what is more valuable than that?