My favorite quote is by Augustine of Hippo “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.”
After passing my higher secondary level, I was confused about what subjects to pursue. I soon got enrolled in BBA program and six months in, I realized that it was not what I was seeking. The option I had was to go to India and study Bachelor’s in Arts. I was quite happy and grateful that my parents gave me that option. I always wanted to travel and see different places rather than study. The thought of living by myself and not being under my parents’ supervision was something I was so looking forward to. All my bags were packed and I was ready to leave for India, I felt privileged to be able to travel via air to Delhi, from where my cousin had booked me a train to Pune. It was my first time on a train so I was very excited, and in my excitement I think my flight from Kathmandu to Delhi went quicker.
As soon as I got out of the door of the cool, air-conditioned aircraft, it felt like I was stepping into a hot oven. June-July bring unbearable heat in Delhi, the capital of India. We stayed there for a night and managed to get an air-conditioned hotel room. As I stepped into the bathroom to take a shower, I remembered the heat and asked my cousin, “Is it this hot in Pune?” To my relief he said it was not as hot there as in Delhi.
We had a whole afternoon to kill, so my cousin suggested we go for a movie. We asked the hotel reception and they gave a name of a popular cinema. We got into a rickshaw to reach there. The rickshaw-driver agreed to take us there for INR 50 which we thought was reasonable. But the driver had his own ways to earn extra bit of money. He took us to a different cinema hall which was closed. Then he said “Oh the cinema is closed today, let me take you guys to another one which will cost us INR 50 more.” My cousin had this experience before so he got off the rickshaw and asked a local if the cinema had been closed for that day or not, surprisingly the local said that it had been closed down for more than a year. We had to argue with the rickshaw-driver to take us to the right one without any extra cost. The next day, we boarded the train and reached Pune.
My three-year stay in India passed like three months. I had one of the most memorable times of my life. I made best of friends, met weirdest of people and nicest of strangers, witnessed smelliest of train platforms to breathtaking views, tasted best of foods and visited amazing places. I saw a wide spectrum of things, from good to bad. I learnt more about life than studies in India.
After my three amazing years there, I came back to Nepal and got a job at a bank. The monotonous nature of my work made me think about my further studies. Then, travelling to United Kingdom was a popular choice for Nepali students. My parents always wanted the best for me so they happily agreed to send me to the UK. So, I lined up for documentation and processing to go to study there. My visa came in a very short time and next thing I knew was in the Heathrow Airport. I didn’t experience any extreme changes while getting out of the aircraft this time as there was a jet bridge that connected the aircraft to the terminal. But when I was waiting for the bus, I experienced the cold weather of London. A cup of coffee and a Nepal-made fake North Face jacket was what kept me warm.
I could see people waiting in queue at the bus stop instead of rushing towards the bus. London had the most polite people, they had words like ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ on the tip of their tongues. On contrary to India, I had to find work fast as I was running out of money. I vividly remember going for an interview for a grocery store job and the manager there made us work eight hours straight, without pay.
I and my friend realized we had been fooled as the manager ignored our calls and refused to meet us. I tried looking for job everywhere but couldn’t find any in London as there were numerous students like me from all over the world. Finally, I found a job at a grocery store where my aunt lived. I felt as if the UK government made their VISA easily available to bring in cash during the times of recession, through students from south of the world, who were eager to travel and seeking an opportunity to improve their living. I saw lot of students who had sold their parental property to come to the UK in the whims of earning money and sending some back to their poor parents. I heard news of students killing themselves for not being able to find jobs.
This was my first time working and studying simultaneously, so it was tough for me but I managed. I started saving money and as a person who loves travelling and seeing new places I took every opportunity I got. I went to visit many places in the UK and also Europe during my stay there. It was when I travelled alone to Europe that I realized I could survive anywhere and it helped me build up my confidence. My life abroad made me a bit more wise, a lot more patient, and stronger than I was before. Hence I would like to encourage everyone to travel in their own country or abroad, either for studies or just to quench their wanderlust.
Sayami completed his Master’s in Business Administration from University of Wales, Cardiff, and is currently a co-founder of laibrary.com.