A funny, yet, observational take on the students who return home after studying in a foreign country for few years. There are upsides and downsides to everything.
After your overseas study stint (read few years) and after you’ve clicked your heels you returned to “Mera Bharat”! You’ll, more than you expected, experience a cultural shock when you return home, perhaps not immediately but eventually!
You will get varied reactions from everyone you meet. Universally everything will look and even feel different.
Like astronauts living for weeks in zero gravity, your linguistic absorption will occasionally result in being tongue tied in conversations that go beyond day-to-day greetings. You’ll unconsciously slip into the foreign language phraseology and sometimes even pause to find the “matribhaasha” word that would explain you better. You will be rewired linguistically and psychologically.
You will feel like Neo in The Matrix whose mind, like yours, has been freed and you can never go back to who you were before.
As Morpheus inquired, “Would you want to?”
On the linguistic level, fluency, however one defines it, is grossly over-rated. This so-called failure of fluency is often used as an insidious verbal knife by envious counterparts (and you’ll be stunned who tells you) to discourage you from pursuing your goals with your added qualifications.
Your immediate objective becomes “to be understood”!
You may be ridiculed for your “American accent, imperfect grammar” and all. Even with Herculean efforts and a Zen monk approach, you will be laughed at by many because most of the times you will be fumbling with your own language. But keep in mind that you are stumbling forward (aka learning from your mistakes), perhaps falling down and then getting up and continuing your journey. Eventually you’ll improve your proficiency “with your own language”. If you keep at it, believe you me, you’ll surprise yourself.
Because of your newly acquired skill on “foreign accent” which cannot be bought and only a few achieve it, expect friends and family members to passively even actively degrade your accomplishments or subvert your future efforts. You may even rise to the glorious levels of outsider in some circles because of your newly acquired accented skills and even encounter outright hostility.
Remember that their reactions reveal everything about themselves, not about you.
Additionally, you’ll realize that you’ve developed a certain class of ‘street smarts’ and survival instincts enabling you to better think on your feet and another language to boot! Additionally, there’s another unique experience. If you (still) physically resemble the generals, it gives you the experience of blending in almost seamlessly as long as your clothing and body language match everyone else’s.
The downside (there’s always a downside) it is assumed that you are trying to fit in so a faux pas are not as forgivable. On the other hand, if you look quite different from the population, you get the experience of someone in the minority population of your own country who do not have the legal protections even (God save you). And for your own protection, you must determine whether this minority with whom you resemble is one which is welcomed, ignored or persecuted.
Well, on a rather serious note, studying abroad as a college student has tremendous benefits because learning and acquiring skills is always a welcome thought. As part of your coming-of-age, it’s an experience that will leave an indelible impression. And don’t worry whether an organisation back home will hire you because you’ve added foreign unique experiences or added skills. Sometimes they don’t because now have become a threat to the usuals in the company.
Just move on and find someplace that will.
Unique skill sets always come with a price that you’d pay anytime.
Be proud of what you learn and what you make of it.