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In this essay I want to share about my study abroad experience. I was born to a middle-class Hindu family, on a rainy day, in the deserted and usually scorching land of Kuwait. My father’s entire family was settled in Kuwait from the 1960s. They had seen it all, from the British protectorate liberation to the horrific invasion of the Iraqis. They were so closely knit with this country. In spite of being expatriates of Kuwait for so long, our family always made sure that everybody strictly adhered to our culture and way of living. Islam was predominantly practiced in Kuwait. Therefore, as Hindus, we did get subjected to a few negligible restrictions. We shouldn’t be seen wearing a teeka on the forehead, we weren’t allowed to conduct public summits on religion, temples or other public places of worship weren’t allowed to be built and so on. However, I would be lying if I said that we weren’t able to survive through these religious constraints.
Kuwait has a very bountiful and rich culture. Although the country as it is, isn’t very aesthetic, the handmade jewelry, cutlery and craftworks manufactured by the Kuwaitis were striking and elegant. The citizens of Kuwait are very generous and they are always mesmerized by the Indian traditional art forms. Especially the women.
They are in awe of the facial make-up, jewelry and the grace of the dancers and make consistent efforts to imitate them by joining dance classes or worse, by surfing through Youtube and other websites. My parents took me and my brother to bhajan satsangs conducted in a rented private hall, by a social group. We were also taught many shlokas and were made to read about our scriptures and the Upanisads. My brother and I would sulk about going to these classes because they brought our play-time to an end.
Only later we realized how useful and informative it is to us. The hall was a perfect go-to place if we ever wanted to just meditate, have our own space, or read. The only thing unbearable about this country was the climate. We were almost always exposed to very dry and dusty climates, which gave rise to cases of mild occupational disorders in our family. Just like us, there were many Indian expatriates in our area.
All of us would gather to celebrate every national holiday, religious festivals and other occasions. Diwali is one of the most vigorously celebrated Indian festivals back there. Around hundreds of people gather in a deserted ground right opposite to the apartment that I had stayed in, to burst varieties of crackers and meet and greet their loved ones warmly. Every Diwali, not only I look forward to join the fun with my friends and relatives, but I also look forward to sitting comfortably in my balcony, munching on sweets and snacks and admiring the beautiful sparks of light that spew all over the sky.
The school I used to attend, was very conservative, had a good learning environment and had very mediocre facilities. I loved to go to school. Yes, I was one of those few students who wouldn’t complain about going there. For an introvert, I had made quite a lot of friends and acquaintances in school. Even though school ended just five to six months ago, I feel nostalgic about how my friends and I would simply hang around in food joints and malls after school.
We were even chased out of these places quite a number of times because of the shenanigans we would create. My school teachers were extremely obliging, considerate and filled with affection. They helped us to cope with all kinds of problems; be it emotional, mental or study-related. They also constantly motivated us to achieve high ranks in school as well as to participate in extra-curricular activities. Thinking back, I think school days were legitimately the best days of my life and if I was ever granted to make one wish, it would be to relive those amazing memories I made in school.
After eighteen long years of being in Kuwait, I finally moved to India for my undergraduate studies. At this point, I was not exactly sure about what I wanted to pursue. All I did know was that I could adapt to my own way of life as liberally and peacefully as I wanted to. I was in a state of conflict when it had come down to what I wanted to do. It seemed essential to me that I need to enjoy whatever course I am going to opt for, since I would be dealing with it for the most part of my life.
I knew for a fact that I was interested in Psychology, because I had always been curious about the various enigmas of human emotions and behavioural changes. I possess the will to understand multidimensional human life. The one element that attracted me to this course is the long-term knowledge and answers to interdisciplinary human problems. I am mainly interested in the clinical or biological aspect of psychology as biology is one of my all-time favourite subjects. Moving to India was one of the biggest eye-openers for me. The students here are way more competitive and determined.
They are also friendly, witty and of course, highly intelligent. I now realize that I will have to put considerable amount effort to pace up with them and reach their wavelength. I also realized that I couldn’t rely on my parents to keep me going anymore. I had to learn how to be independent and more purposeful.
Even though Kuwait is a very Islam-biased, orthodox country, the lifestyle there didn’t feel very different from how it is in India because of the environment and manner in which my parents had raised me. They had taught me the ideal values of the Indian culture and would constantly remind me of my ethnic and family origins. Thus, I personally did not find it strenuous to adapt with the cultural and environmental changes I was subjected to after my formative years. I strongly feel that my parents’ way of upbringing has also had a positive impact on the way I view myself and others around me. I gained the quality of being able to adjust to whichever niche I dwell in as well as with the people in it.