As A Gujarati, This Is How I Learned Malayalam In My University

December 10 2022

Coming to a Central University and witnessing the great cultural diversity was a completely unique experience for me! It was for the first time in my life that I got to meet so many students from Kerala and got familiar with a culture that I was unaware of.


I made a lot of Malayali friends in a very short time. I observed that most of them were more comfortable speaking in Malayalam and English. Some of them also speak very decent Hindi.

I needed to break the language barrier for us to better understand each other. That is when I decided to start learning Malayalam! My friends supported the idea and started teaching me words and sentences which are frequently used in day-to-day conversations.

The best part for me was shocking Malayali students with what I just learned and immediately building new friendships. The cherry on the cake was learning a song in Malayalam and performing it on Onam, for which I got crazy good reactions!

We are conditioned to believe that Dravidian languages are difficult to learn, but we hardly give it a try. We expect the students from South India to learn Hindi when they're studying in North India, but why should we not try to understand their culture too?

I also find it problematic when the teachers would sometimes forget that students come from different cultural backgrounds and keep going on by speaking in "Hindi" in class. I believe that universities need to be more culturally inclusive rather than imposing.

I think student life is the best time when we learn and respect cultural diversity and the differences in our society and try to understand each other better. We can make it possible by "trying". Trying does wonders!