Returnee students also experience culture shock

2014-04-05

Republica National Daily

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 Students face adjustment problems when they return to their native lands from studying abroad. It can be a daunting challenge for those who get the better taste of education abroad and exposure to better pedagogy with more room for creativity to start a new job or adjust to a different education system. 

The pressure of suddenly shifting to a new milieu might accentuate core adaptation issues. The young students may also go through identity crisis, feel a loss of control over their lives and have feelings of rejection.  

Moreover, when it comes to an education system that emphasizes rote learning under a traditional curriculum, the returnees  probably won´t find the same energy and enthusiasm for learning. Usually at abroad, the major focus is on developing child´s cognitive ability through creativity. They are taught using practical approaches, where students learn how to express themselves in their own words, but here the learning process is all theoretical. This is how Sujita Gurung shares her experience.  

“There were a lot of differences that I felt when I compared the education system in Singapore and here,” points out Gurung, 20, a student who studied till tenth grade in Singapore and then returned to Nepal for her higher education at Malpi Institute.

“At tenth grade in Singapore, we had O levels Cambridge Education and in Nepal too, it was A levels of Cambridge Education so for me there was no problem with the education board. However, there were a lot of other issues that I had to deal with.”

One major difference she felt and the hardship she endured was in the teaching system. “There [Singapore] we were taught practically and were made to do a lot of 
presentations but here [Nepal] the focus is more on theoretical stuffs.”

She further continued that though they do have field works here, there is not much emphasis on evaluation of such field works or making presentations. The emphasis is placed on the final paper. 

Another major difference that she felt was in the teacher-student relationship. “There, it´s more like an informal relation where students and teacher interact a lot and appear more like friends but here it´s more of a formal relationship and even if we just greet our teachers informally like say ´hi´, its considered to be disrespectful to them and going overboard,” she complains.

A sudden change associated with the mobility especially among the children in their formative years brings a lot of anxiety and adjustment problems. When they return from abroad and have to adjust to a new environment, pessimism abounds; they may face lot of doubts, lose their self-confidence and may even undergo depression, explains Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Nepal Medical College, Dr Pradip Man Singh.  

“The culture shock may affect how students perform in school as well. Since the basic guidelines regarding the education system and others are different here, the students will have language problems and also problems with adjusting to a whole new system,” says Singh, adding, “However, with the passage of time, they will get hold of themselves, learn to deal with the change and gradually get used to the new environment.” 

Simran Thakur, 14, had studied at an elementary school in Korea. She then returned to Kathmandu and got enrolled in third standard at Rato Bangla School. “The sudden change of school, education system, teachers and friends was quite overwhelming for me,” shares Simran.

“The toughest subject for me was Nepali as I had never studied it until I came here. I didn´t even know the Nepali alphabets,” she says.

The most important difference that Simran felt was teaching method. Back in Korea, learning science was made more fun with lots of practical experiments that we were made to do but in Nepal I found science subject really tough, she says, adding, “It´s not that we were not taught practically here but when compared to the teaching approach used, it is really different.”

“The teachers also focused more on extracurricular activities in Korea.” She also felt that teachers in that country were friendly and so she shared a close and comfortable relationship with them but said the same was not there in her new school.

Supporting Simran´s ideas, her mother Kiran Thakur says, “Initially it was hard to make Simran adjust to her new school. Lack of knowledge about Nepali language was the main culprit for her and she would even feel lost in school at times.” 

“If there would have been special Nepali classes for students who come from abroad in the school itself, then it would have definitely helpful,” she adds. 

We cannot even compare our education system with that of overseas. Here, students are mostly encouraged to memorize the lessons and for those who are used to the practical education, it becomes just hard for them to just memorize the data in order to perform well. “This is why those students who come from abroad to continue their studies in Nepal face tough time to adjust to new system,” states Sarita Sharma, who teaches economics at Mahendra Bhawan School.

“Moreover,” says Sharma, “Returnees want the same freedom that they had enjoyed abroad whereas here we have a rigid system.  They also don´t have the same shared experiences with other kids so they look for making friends but usually find themselves as misfits.” Sharma “Though it is natural for students returning from overseas to feel apprehensive about continuing education in a totally new environment, what they need is encouragement to step out of their comfort zone, mix with different students and open up only then they can be supported and their problems understood,” Sharma adds.

(Article Source: The Republica Nepal)