All Hands Abroad

Meet Mr. DELL. He’s that guy you met probably a couple of years ago. Almost every single Bangladeshi student had to face him during their high school years. A strongly built and cruel man, Mr. DELL would stamp the dreams and ambitions out of anyone who dared to defy him. Still don’t remember him? Perhaps this would help: his name stands for the things your parents always wanted you to be. Yes, Mr. DELL is the incarnation of those horrific words an average Bangladeshi teen has to hear: “You must become a Doctor, or an Engineer, or a Lawyer, or else you’ll become a Loser.” Needless to say, those who indeed wanted to become any of those four found Mr. DELL a lovely guy. However, others hated being stuck with something they never wanted, declaring their undergrad majors even before they had the chance to get a glimpse at life. These unlucky individuals may be surprised to know that unlike in Bangladesh, many universities in foreign countries don’t require students to declare a major in their freshman year, this being one of the many perks of studying abroad. In today’s competitive, fast-paced world, international education has become extremely important for increasing both intellectual and professional experiences, especially for the Bangladeshi youth. A degree from a renowned international university could be the ticket to a career in your desired field. Because the education system in our country has many flaws, lots of students are setting sail for undergraduate and graduate programs abroad. So what makes these seemingly “glittering” opportunities abroad so special? Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of studying abroad, especially in Western countries, is the academic freedom students get. With surprisingly low class size and low student-to-faculty ratio, many universities in the USA and Canada offer a huge number of interdisciplinary programs, minors, double majors, and stunning lab and research facilities. Some universities will let you change your major, while others will even let you create a customized major with your selection of courses. Regardless of your academic background, these universities let you design your academics just the way you want it. Syeda Akila Ally, a Biology and Physics double major at The University of Chicago, says, “I’ve always enjoyed reading Philosophy and literary texts. I really loved the liberal arts approach in the USA, and since I wouldn’t be able to study the humanities and Social Sciences if I chose to study Medicine or Physics in Bangladesh, I applied to universities in the USA.” An international education would undoubtedly change the way you perceive things, affecting your career as well as everything you want to do in future. With world-wide recognition and accreditation by international organizations, a degree from a well-known foreign university will let you get a good job anywhere, a n y t i m e ! Because your education will be immensely valued even here in Bangladesh, getting a degree from abroad is the best thing to do if you want to give something back to your community. Tahmid Shahriar, a Computer & Information Science major at University of Pennsylvania, says, “I went to Penn to get a world class education that would help me make a difference when I’ll start my own business back in Bangladesh. Penn is very entrepreneurship focused and my time at Penn will help me create my own firm from scratch.” But is there a guarantee that you’re bound to achieve success if you study abroad? Well, definitely not. But, if you take a look at the life history of some of the most successful Bangladeshis, you’ll see that a lot of them, in some point in their lives, had obtained degrees from foreign institutes. Dr. Muhammad Yunus obtained his PhD from Vanderbilt; Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, got his BS and MS from MIT, and MBA from Harvard; Dr. Mahbub Majumder, renowned mathematician and coach of Bangladesh’s Mathematical Olympiad team, received his BS from MIT, MS from Stanford, and PhD from Cambridge; Ejaj Ahmed, founder and president of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center, earned his MA from Harvard; the list goes on and on… In the end, home or abroad, it’s up to you whether you’ll be successful or not. But you increase that chance of being successful to a considerable extent when you go abroad for education, thirsty for learning new stuff; curious with the prospect of facing new challenges; enthusiastic to know new cultures; eager to meet new people with new ideas, new perspectives, and new stories… It’s your turn to decide.

Mahmud Hussain

IIUM, Malaysia

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