Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Eshika’s Return to India

I caught up with rising sophomore Eshika Agarwal from Hyderabad, India for her thoughts on what it’s like returning to India after a year of studies in the U.S. Here, she reflects on differences in the workplace, educational systems, and societal expectations. 

Eshika writes:

“I don’t really know if home has gotten any different, but I think I am able to see and perceive many “new” things about home almost like an outsider/tourist which both scares and excites me. 

For example, here in India, there are many implicit rules unconsciously reinforced by the society. I just learnt how to drive and since a month I’ve been driving wherever I want (for example to my internship/office, get-togethers/reunions with friends, etc.) And wherever I go, I am met with surprised questions/comments such as “wow, you are driving! Alone? Even at night? So far away from your house too? In traffic?” In fact, when even some of my close friends asked me this, I realized how many restrictions are placed in the society regarding how girls/people should behave, act, dress etc. Similar kind of questions were also brought forward earlier by many people when I decided to go abroad for higher studies. People are so scared and refuse to go out of their comfort zones, hence automatically conforming to the norms. If people just keep aside the “log kya kahenge (what will people/society say)” phenomenon, then the society can progress and grow much faster, by leaps and bounds.

Further, I experienced first-hand most of the differences/similarities that alums mentioned while working on my first internship at my family business.

For example, I agree to what most of the alums [interviewed for a rhetoric assignment] had said about employees in India taking lesser initiatives, despite being very hard-working. I saw this too, and realized that because of this, it becomes even more important to delegate the work properly and give concrete instructions. Or give the employees similar ideas, if possible with simple illustrations, as to how you want the work to be done/have a separate team which looks into the long term strategy for the company. Therefore, it becomes very important to work around the strengths of particular individuals/teams/countries to achieve your goal/vision and make others believe in it too.

In my [rhetoric] research paper, specifically one alum had mentioned the primary reason for the cultural differences to be the differences in the educational systems between the two countries. Even though I was well aware of the differences (I myself studied in CBSE till 10th), conversations with friends about their lives, their curriculum, etc.  reinforced this. For example, while I was having 3 hour classes, 4 days a week, they had 10-12 hours of classes, 6 days a week. And while I had practical knowledge of what was happening in the real world being taught to me, they had theory from years ago even for subjects like physics and fashion designing being taught to them. All of this not only makes me realize the privilege I have, in terms of education abroad, more global exposure etc., but also makes me aware of the responsibility that comes with. Although India has achieved independence 60 years ago and is now progressing at a much faster rate than ever before, there are still so many opportunities and so much potential to make it a better place where everyone is accepted for who they are, and nurtured in the right way so that their true potential is achieved.”

Are you an international student who experiences a conflicted identity when moving between your home culture and that of the U.S.? You are not alone! Did you know it’s possible to leverage your adaptability, flexibility, and language skills for the job search? Attend a “U.S. Job Search Strategy” with CCD to learn more!