Thankyou Tashi sir and Singye sir ( MoE, scholarship division) for giving me the opportunity to speak to the 250 fresh scholarship students. More than the students, it was a platform for me to learn and build confidence. Anyway, I wrote the below article in order to prepare for the talk. I thought I will prepare and share with the students in rather an informal way, but ended up reading most of it :D. I was nervous in the beginning for my fist ever public speaking but got over it eventually, and I hope to deliver such talks in a better way next time.
My university life
Entering into the new phase of my life, I was excited beyond words, but I must say, things did not start smoothly as I imagined. Me and my three friends, we did not know that we had to make advanced accommodation booking. The person who was sent to pick us up from the University’s international office asked us where we would like to be dropped. All the four of us were, like, looking at each other with; I have no idea sort of look. Fortunately, before leaving Bhutan, we had contacted the then only Bhutanese student who was studying there in the same university. He was there at the airport as well. Took us with him and helped find a place to stay.
Beginning my university life, I found it strange and difficult for having to choose units of our choice to be enrolled in for the semester. What I had in mind was that, once we decide the course, we would be given a specific set of subjects and would be provided with text books. That was hardly the case, we had to decide what units we wanted to take, and there were many elective units to select from. That was not very pleasing for me at the time.
Most of the university works had to be done via internet. Assignments, quizzes and enquiries were most of the time done online. Coming from a small developing country like ours, where I was not used to using internet so extensively, adjusting to their way of teaching and learning was a major turning point. The another new experience, was, in addressing my lecturers and professors, for all my school life I was used to calling sir and madam to my teachers, but there, irrespective of the post and position, everyone was called by their first name. It took quite a while for me to be able call my lecturers by their name but when I did, I liked it that way so much. Anyway, I had the pleasure of calling some great people by their first name.
During the initial days, it was difficult to make people understand me and I myself had difficulty understanding their accent. It is not just the Aussie accent I am talking about here. There were people from so many different countries, each one of them beared a unique accent.
Through friendship, food and communication I had the pleasure to experience so many different cultures. Culture is but everything a person/community is made up of. The type of food they ate, they way they mixed the ingredients. The different attires they wore, the way they welcomed guests and strangers. In the university where I studied, activities such as International Food Festival and Armidale Autumn Festivals are a great opportunity for the people to display their traditions and an opportunity to experience other cultures.
International Food Festival is a half day event organised by the University where we can put up stalls to display our culture in the form of food, crafts, clothes, photographs and videos. We Bhutanese leave no opportunity unattended to showcase our culture and country.
Armidale Autumn Festival is a street parade and it is held in season of autumn. The parade begins at the university’s sports ground. Walkers grouped in respective to their home country, dressed in their national dress and waving their national flag, will walk through the streets of Armidale city. Thousands of local people and international alike gather along the streets on the day to witness the festival. The festival brings together people of different ethnic group and gives the local community an opportunity to witness and experience cultures of different kind.
My dear young friends, go grab every learning opportunity that will come your way. If you have doubts, ask you lecturers. If you want to make friends, go talk to people and finally if you want learn and experience different cultures, makes new friends.
And don’t always stay in a gang of Bhutanese, for I think, to advance and increase your boundary of exposure, it is important to interact with international students, communicate, know there culture and learn from them.
Just being in Australia, or for that matter any other country, is not enough for us come back with rich experience. We should put an effort and always keep the willingness to learn and provide others our share of knowledge or whatever that is we can offer.
Take it easy and have lots of adventure but there is a purpose that must not be forgotten as well.
The purpose that must not be forgotten
Until now, most of you I am sure your parents might have guided you through every step of your journey. We come from a culture where our parents are particular about their children's whereabouts and what they do. We are constantly advised on what is good and what is not in almost every decision we take. They are particular and sometimes even strict.
But the life that awaits you out there is going to be absolutely different. You are going to be a free bird. Your parents will be miles away from you then by distance. So you will become the master of your actions. No one will be there to scold you for the wrong doings. You can drink and party whole night and sleep till noon, still there will be no one to bother you. The bottom line, you will have the freedom to do whatever you please.
But remember, this freedom is only until the end of the duration of your course. At the end of the term, you will have to have all the academic requirements fulfilled, or else, you will have to face a lot of consequences.
Today, I talk from the experiences of my own-self, friends’ and colleagues’. Some of us we lose ourselves into this freedom and loose our focus. We get excited to have this freedom, all of a sudden. Some of us, only some of us, we start facebooking infinitely, drink, party and wonder-around. And before you know it, you will have failed in one unit, two units and so on.Now, I cannot speak for every university or country. The uni where I studied, you fail in four units and you are one semester back. One semester back, meaning an additional cost of 8000 to 10000 Australian dollars tuition fee plus another 8000 Australian dollars as a living cost. And I must warn you, unless it is a genuine case, RGoB won’t bear the cost of that extended duration whatsoever. For a middle class family, 10 lakhs 20 thousand is still a huge education investment to bear. 10 lakhs, 20 thousands, being the approximate cost of studying in an Australian university for one semester. And if anything like this should happen (there have been few such cases in the past). We must/you must then be answerable to the RGoB. You put yourself into trouble, your parents as well and not to forget the student support staffs as well. Your life style of a free bird will then enter into a life of stress and unhappiness. And as a result of all this, some students get mental breakdown and go into depression, because if they come back without the degree, double the amount spent on them by the RGoB has to be refunded. To end the talk, I wish and hope that, all of you will make the best use of the opportunity, time and freedom that awaits you and shape your life into whatever that is that you desire.