Life of International Student in Aberdeen, ‘The Energy Capital of Europe’

life of student

I did my under-graduation in Petroleum Engineering from India and was working for one of the largest service provider in Oil Industry in 2010. After two years of a normal routine at office work, it was when I thought of pursuing higher education, but only wish I had was that I would pursue Masters from abroad. That was the time when I started searching for a good reputed university with specialized courses in petroleum sector. After a long search and by method of elimination of courses I chose to do my masters from Aberdeen, which is also known as ‘The Energy Capital of Europe’.

Aberdeen’s two universities, including the prestigious University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University, both have post-graduation courses in Petroleum engineering. However, I chose and finally took admission in Robert Gordon University (RGU) which is a most dynamic, modern place to study with an international reputation for providing high quality education.
After two years of work, it was difficult for an average student like me who is a die-hard foodie and likes travelling, photography and partying a lot to get back into academics. I was worrying about how to adjust in an unknown country with no friends and family around, but believe me, my all tensions and worries vanished when RGU assigned me a student buddy, that too a girl (woowww ) even when I was undergoing through the admission process. I asked all sort of questions and she did her best to answer my stupid questions to me comfortable. During this phase she told so many beautiful and interesting facts about university, the Aberdeen city and things to do in Scotland that I started looking forward to fly to Aberdeen at earliest. Finally in September 2012 when I was in my first international flight to United Kingdom, I wasn’t scared at all, in fact, I had a long list of things to do on my bucket list during my stay in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is a small cosmopolitan city on Scotland’s beautiful west coast but one of the richest and costliest cities in United Kingdom. It’s known for its historic old quarter and signature grey architecture, because of which the city has nickname of ‘The Granite City’. Flying from a hot country like India, I literally took the Aberdeen climate very lightly. I was wrong, as soon as I stepped out of airbus at Aberdeen airport, I kind of got froze. Strong winds and chillness in atmosphere that too in bright sunny day was how I was welcomed by Aberdeen. But this was one day and sixteen months later when I was returning to India, I was missing the beautiful weather and clean air of lovely city of Aberdeen.
Anyways, I reached the university accommodation and after completing all the necessary formalities at reception, I was allocated a private room in a flat to share with five other inmates. That was my first experience and introduction to world’s diversity as I was sharing the flat with Germans, Nigerians and mate from Kenya. Another thing which was new for me and entirely different from the hostel accommodations in India was that everything in university accommodation at Woolmanhill had to be done by self, be it cleaning of room or washrooms; grocery shopping or cooking and cleaning utensils; or washing and ironing clothes . No maid service or mess/canteen system as it’s in India. Literally starting few weeks was like undergoing graduation in daily chores of life. But those experiences were amazing and I enjoyed every bit of the time.

In my research about the Aberdeen city, I knew that there are a number of things that make Aberdeen an amazing city for students. One aspect that surprised me when I first got to Aberdeen is the great nightlife. There are plenty of cool bars, nightclubs, casinos and gentlemen clubs in the city that are all in walking distance of each other in the city center or Union Street. Luckily, my university accommodation was located in the prime location of the city. So, one can imagine how the rest of my stay in city would had been. It started with a week-long Fresher’s Week for new students and university students organized by the RGU at one of best nightclub and pub of the city. Every day, was a new theme party with unlimited booze, crazy music and amazing boys and girls on the dance floor from every corner of the world. Literally I was in hangover for the entire week, because if late night parties at nightclubs weren’t enough, the parties and booze continued at house-warming gatherings after returning from the clubs. It was the time when I made some really good friends.

After working in industry for two years, getting back to student life was refreshing. University curriculum was designed such that it gave enough time in starting of the course for international students to get familiar with city and student’s lifestyle that one experience before getting packed with assignments, workshops and exams. As such the Fresher’s Week was not enough, at the start of the academic year the student’s association organized a Fresher’s Fair which gave me a chance to get to know all the clubs and societies in university. It was a perfect induction for a person like me who is more interested in extra-curricular activities rather than the classroom studies or spending time at libraries. I got to know the various sport and/or hobby clubs I had all my life, or something I had never done before. For example, I have had the opportunity to get to know the wine tasting society and the Nordic society; and there are so many more. It was lively and very different introduction to students’ life as compared to Indian mindset of attending any post-graduation university.

The most lovable thing for any international student like me was that the locals Aberdonians had been great. Initially I certainly had to get used to the accent, though. Believe it is very different from normal English people. They are always interested to hear about my home country and never treated me like I was not welcome. It is very easy to get to meet Aberdonians either in the pubs or at the events of the local performance theatres. The possibilities are endless!
There are many places as well as restaurants and shops, which offer great opportunities for part-time employment if students wish to earn some extra money. Like every other Indian student who goes to study abroad I was also keen to get part-time job as soon as possible to fund my living and spend them without giving a second thought on my leisure activities. To my luck, I was the first student in batch of sixty students who got the part-time job at a Chinese restaurant. This solved my two problems, firstly I was again employed and earning my own living and secondly, I hadn’t had to worry about my dinner and daily booze anymore.

Apart from restaurants, shopping complexes, and nightlife to first-rated sport and leisure facilities, Aberdeen is lively, full of history and culture in abundance and an amazing place for international students. Based on the North East Coast of Scotland, Aberdeen finds itself in the perfect location for mixing colorful city life with exploring miles of surrounding countryside. If anyone is into hillwalking, climbing and mountaineering, it is a great place for them. Personally, I really enjoyed the newly opened Aberdeen Sports Centre which offers state of the art gym facilities and Olympic standard badminton courts. There is also the aquatics center which houses an Olympic size pool, a sauna, a steam-room, and much more. However, I enjoyed the beach and its boulevard that offer great place for jogging and even surfing.

One can experience Aberdeen’s enthralling history at the award-winning Maritime Museum. Meanwhile, the beautifully preserved 17th century Tolbooth Prison Museum offers fully interactive displays, models and exhibits. It is one of Scotland’s most culturally important cities. It has a thriving theatre scene, hosting ballet, drama and opera performances at His Majesty’s Theatre throughout the year. Aberdeen is also well known for its first-class literature events and comedy nights. I was fortunate see Her Majesty ‘Queen Elizabeth´ on her visit to Aberdeen to inaugurate the City Library at the City Council. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Another fact which I had researched about Scotland was that it hosts most number of castles, forts and palaces in the world, and Aberdeen has plenty of them in its surroundings and nearby towns and cities. For travel lovers outside the city, Aberdeen provides ample options of day-trips or weekend outings without bunking the university. To top it off, if anyone is studying in Scotland travel links are excellent, which means getting around the rest of Scotland and the UK is easy. As said earlier I like travelling a lot, it became routine for me that every month I used to travel on one such destination to explore the Scotland and Highlands. From visits to some amazingly scenically beautiful places such as Cruden Bay; Stonehaven; St. Andrews; Fortross; Inverness and Lochness to day trips to some of ghostliest or loneliest castles like Dunnottar, Craigievar, Huntly and Old Slains were the best trips I had ever done. A tour of Balmoral Castle was mesmerizing and it got even special for me when I came to that it is the second home of Royal Family of United Kingdom during the summers in London. One trip which is very close to my heart is when I visited the homeland of James Bond. Oh yeah, a road trip and camping with flat mates and friends to The Isle of Skye, situated off the West Coast of Scotland. It felt like I was one of the characters from Skyfall movie.

Frankly speaking, if I go on sharing a students’ life at Aberdeen, it will be endless. The exposure, experiences, comfort and friendly atmosphere the city and university has to offer is unmatchable. Simply great! I just didn’t study in an awesome university under guidance of highly knowledgeable and experienced professors and industry professionals, but also established and groomed myself in overall personality development. From highs and lows in studies and exams to responsibilities of working as a restaurant staff to unforgettable nightlife, parties and hangouts to incredible hiking and road trips, Aberdeen has to offer a great student experience for international students.

A vibrant, compact city with a buoyant local economy Aberdeen is isolated from other cities, but it has everything that other cities has – shopping centers, theatres, cinemas, bars, casinos, clubs, a beach and lots more – so the isolation doesn’t matter. I loved my time there.

The Present Scenario of Education System

education system

Changes are inevitable. Changes in the economic ,social or cultural fields have wide impact in the development of the country .Even in the interiors of the country we can see a wave of changes.Education is an important field where we need changes at  the grass root level .A developing nation needs a strong base on which several projects can be taken. A strong base is not possible without an educated mass . Though there is provision of free education with free meal in the primary level so that children could be attracted towards school ,but the adulterated and worst quality of food have hardly any charm to pull children in schools.There is child labour abolition act too but about 3.30 million children on the whole are found  engaged in some sorts of child labour .Many education policies are reformed to make children aware of their rights and duties yet the fatal fact is that they all were adopted on trial basis .Education is the only sector where large number of experiments are done in short duration but none has succeeded .

The continuous comprehensive evaluation programme was adopted with the motive to exploit the hidden talent of a child but in a class of 60 – 70 students how can a comprehensive system work at its flow . It is possible in public schools only where the students and teacher ratio is thirty to one .Most of the Government schools are over crowded.Moreover the burden of completing syllabus in time is also on teachers .Many schools were set up for the age group of primary level ,i.e age group of 6 to 14 years .These schools still lie but their significance is zero .About 9.90 million students don’t avail going to schools .In a recent survey it was found that 16.7 million children are cursed to live in poverty .They are bound to do some sort of income generating work for their survival .

Let us come to the present scenario of education system .We have found a class viii student not having correct pronunciation .They are even unable to spell correctly while reading .It is true with both the languages ,English and Hindi .The appointment of teachers is also questionable .Teachers are devoid of basic facilities .They are not paid salary in time .Moreover they are found engaged in different jobs other than teaching .

It is essential to know that education does not mean a well structured building ,books ,note – books and availability of teachers only .The infrastructure is a outer layer .The purpose behind education is to bring tremendous change in  the outlook of students as well as parents .Apart from going through the prescribed syllabus ,they should be given moral and ethical values.They should acquire humility and kindness .It is the right of every child to avail education and it should be given to them .One should not impose any course forcibly .Once it  is imposed without their interest or without their voluntary acceptance ,it might lead to indifference for that subject .

Those attributes which are hidden in a child will come up only when they are given favorable and congenial atmosphere .

Education is a continuous and live process .It is just like an article of a writer .It should believe in its free existence and existing without any control ,it should flourish through generations .We should make an atmosphere which makes them sensitive towards human being ,animals and nature .This should be the duty of our  education department .The knowledge which joins itself with a society ,will exist lively and would aim at bringing welfare to the largest  ones .

society is the best medium of facts and matters .Once the education policy is free from the hands of bureaucrats and political leaders ,it  would express in its most valuable contribution .Freedom of expression finds its outlets in freedom of education .Therefore a good amount of annual  budget   should be allotted to education sector .some amendments are also required in the context of minimum age for  going school and minimum age of childhood .The experts say that the present age of demarcating childhood from teenage is   14 years which can be extended upto 18 years  so that the frequency of leaving school and joining the work at the early stage could be lessened

The role of interactive sessions

The ultimate and critical role of education is shaping human behaviour.It is our prime duty to take care of the well being of the earth . The present day society needs to formulate an innovative educational policy aimed to evolve a complete man with three major goals ,Academic excellence, Moral and spiritual values and Social sensibilities.

Academic excellence in its pursuit deals with not only career oriented education which requires depth of knowledge but also behavioral education which deals with a child’s behaviour taking into account his discipline , thought and attitude towards his mates . His dedication with honesty in study fulfils the academic field which makes him a true citizen of the nation. The primary goals of education are to deepen the student’s engagement with issues in environment and science and take sensitive actions to improve the quality of life .

The moral and spiritual values instil a sense of pride and responsibility for the society and the nation .Character building with honesty , truthfulness , sympathy and satisfaction are the basic qualities a human being should possess . Without them a person will always remain restless which will make him incapable in taking decisions.

The ethics will motivate them to do welfare oriented work for the society . What you have derived good from the society , you must repay for the coming generation for maintaining continuity .  Television, movies or books are all strong tutors regarding values, still teenagers point to their parents as the primary source of their strength and values. Thus quality time spent by parents make a strong bond between a child and the parents. Empathy and values cannot be taught. Students can learn empathy and pick up values if they are treated empathetically .Mahatma Gandhi had said , You must change first what you wish to see in the world .The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically . Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education . Teachers must teach the children to look within and examine themselves. Education, communication and public awareness are essential elements in improving the quality of life of all people and their environment.

Most of the students feel shy to share their problems which might occur as obstacles in their personality development. It is said that children feel more comfortable in sharing their views with teachers rather than the parents . So teachers must guide them at the right moment if they find anything different from their usual behaviour . Remaining aloof , not eating tiffin, indifference while in classroom , sleepy eyes are some of the factors which speak that the child is undergoing some stress . Usually there are problems related with adolescence . Physically the body undergoes many changes in teenage due to the release of hormones and this results in stress both physical and mental. A good counseling can solve such problems quickly and bring them on the right track .If the multitalented teens are carefully moulded , they can become balanced and productive adults. The present – day students possess high level of confidence , communicational skill, independent thinking , ambition as compared to their parents . At the same time they have to find place to get fitted in the age of cut throat competition, so the situation is highly complex for the entire society.  It is rightly said that at home parent is the teacher and at school teacher is the parent . Therefore , a good interaction between teachers – parents can solve all the tough situations in right time . Without any clash of ego , there must be a mutual sharing of views regarding a child at a given interval between both . This type of interactive session will bring positive outcome and will act to bridge the gap between parents and children too. After all it is the case of a student who bears all the possibilities to shape the nation with his positive and  innovative ideas .

Empowering Women

A very common word that has been on the tongue of everyone these days is women empowerment .Much has been said about how and what facilities should be given to empower women in our country .Apart from special provisions granted in the field of education and career ,there are a few points which are necessary to adopt here .

Facilities are of no use if the women themselves are not willing to be empowered .It is very important to think firstly that, they are strong enough to tackle their problems and to deal with suitability. The key to handle our life is with us and it is on us  to use it the way we want.

It is essential to know what is my aim and which is  the best way available to achieve it .A woman knows her weakness and strength .The path suggested by others may not suit her .For example, a woman  knows better which way   she is comfortable ,whether working with men or women ? Same way, does she prefer individuality or remaining in group?etc.

Age has no bounds. The learning process is continuous till the last breathe .A woman must keep herself open to learn new things .Life never becomes stagnant after any phase .The age after forty is the age to rejuvenate oneself .By this time most of the liabilities are covered .So the time comes when a woman refreshes herself .

The hobbies or the desires which had become past days’ memory are to be taken up now .It will boost  you up and you will inspire yourself .This enhances your inner beauty and the joy of being engaged in a constructive work makes you proud of yourself . I can cite the example of plenty of such women who have excelled in their projects which were taken up in their later ages .I know one such lady who in her sixties hired up the catering business as she loved cooking but somehow could not find  time to  start up in her early days .In my neighborhoods I have seen a young widow running her boutique nicely .Once she was not allowed to talk to any outsiders as the family members were so orthodox. She used to keep herself in veil .Time changed as the older members of family passed away gradually, then she came in forefront to run her family business. Women empowerment does not mean strength to protect oneself .It is the inner strength which fills a woman with confidence, self respect and innovation .One should be courageous to move alone from one place to another and to do most of the works from her own end instead of being dependent on others.

A little knowledge of working online is also required as we all are connected globally now .One must know operating bank account or sending formal mails etc .Getting awareness about handling internet and newer features of mobile are ought to be known .It will help them cover a large area sitting in the corner of the house. Last but not the least ,be a socialized person .Socialization helps in the interaction of ideas .Moreover ,as is said ,birds of same feathers flock together ,so formation of  groups  with the persons having same interests would help you learn more ideas and tricks of growth  and solutions to shortcomings .

Women empowerment means more responsibilities at the home as well as in the office or at the business. A good relation with family members and colleagues provides you mental peace .It may provide you a stronger platform to overcome your stress and to take decisions in the favor of the largest mass .