By Roshni Khatri:
“Diversity creates dimension in the world” – Elizabeth Ann Lawless
India is an oxymoron in its own essence. It is a melting pot of people from different religions, nationalities, class, creed and kind. And yet this melting pot is notorious for not being the most tolerant or welcoming at times. The classrooms of the University of Delhi have people from not just around the country, but also from across the globe. The university attracts students from all corners of the country because of the variety of courses it offers which makes Delhi as a city, a mini-world in itself.
When I joined the university, it was highly intriguing and fascinating for me to find people from such varied places and backgrounds. In order to know about how people from other countries feel when they visit the city where I belong, I decided to talk to a few about it. In the following conversations with some foreign international students, they told me about their experiences and how is it like to live in Delhi, coming from a different place altogether. They talked about cultural shock, encounters, incidents and keeping the distance aside, how far they really felt from home.
”Being in Delhi is like home now! When I came here first I was so uncomfortable with people, places. I was unhappy actually. I really thought that coming here was a bad choice. But now, I feel like this is my second home. There are rude people as well, some people just mock foreigners sometimes thinking they don’t understand their language, I have had such experiences myself. But I have also met some really helpful and kind people who I’ll always remember.”
”My initial experience with cultural differences was slightly tough but not as bad as I expected it to be. Initially, it took me some time to make friends, some were not very welcoming at first but slowly I was accepted. I think that what helped me settle in were the new friends I made and got to learn a few things from them.”
“I crossed the border as a small kid. It has been almost nine years since I haven’t seen my family. But still I feel my home very close to me, in my heart, because hope is a beautiful thing and I always keep my hope alive. Tibet will never die because there is no death of human spirit. As far as my Delhi University experience is concerned, I made some really good friends and it has been great.”
”Main problems of living here are related to communication as I do not understand the language at all. The unfriendliness of most people, feeling of being unwelcome, managing all by my own, and feeling ignored by some teachers for unknown reasons, all make adjusting here a little difficult. Trying to manage and fit into an entirely different culture and society is a challenge and one wouldn’t know the feeling without living in such a situation.”
“People here are really nice and open. I expected a major cultural difference but it was not as shocking as I thought of it to be. The one thing I realised here is that people don’t take their classes seriously but take their exams really seriously. In Germany, the entire semester is equally important.”
“I experienced several new things here like using the ATM, going by metro and many other things, and last but not the least seeing everybody being free and nobody even daring to disturb them. Overall, coming to a new place itself is just new and interesting, even if it’s going to bad or good, it doesn’t matter because you’ll find out that life is just not about the place and country you were born and raised in. It’s all about looking deep into new things you haven’t seen before.”
“The thing about India and Nepal is that they are not at all different. It is only the language. The major problem I faced is not in the college but in my hostel. They treat people of different race differently, they are polite but they act like we know nothing. We understand everything they say, they don’t realise it.
Slowly, I have come to know Delhi and its corners. I have become habituated to the crowd and the occasional smelliness. Nepal with its small population and lack of industries is green. Its emptiness makes it safe while Delhi is a trickster, constantly teaching me to be careful. I was growing in Nepal but I’m a woman in Delhi.”
“The cultural shock I had here was massive in the starting. Especially because of the hot and humid temperature. It took me time to come to ease into that. But Delhi is a fantastic city. It’s big and hectic. The history department here is a bit more old school. In Edinburgh where I studied, everything is done electronically so you submit your essays online, you are given your work online, everything is done over emails. Here it is more professor, people, personal element, which is quite nice and charming actually, in an old school kind of way.”
“Well, it wasn’t such a huge cultural shock for me because a lot of Bhutanese are already familiar with the Indian culture. We watch a lot of Indian movies and soap operas. I’ve been here for 3 years now. This is home too.”
Note: This story was commissioned by Youth Ki Awaaz, as part of our Zoom In contest where Roshni Khatri was one of those selected.
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