An International Student’s Journey of Refreshing Change and Growth at Ashoka University
From the fantastic meals to the enriching classroom discussions, Emmanuel Banda has never felt out of place at Ashoka University
I first heard about Ashoka University through a Princeton fellow in Zambia who worked for an NGO which I belonged to in high school. As someone who still had a lot of doubts about my future academic specialization, I had always been attracted to Liberal Arts. Ashoka University’s liberal arts programme fascinated me and that coupled with its need-based scholarship which offered 100 per cent on tuition and residence made the university my first choice over all the other universities I was accepted into.
The first year of university was spent learning in the online setup. It proved to be a challenge for me because my social interactions were minimal and I had barely known anybody. Nonetheless, Ashoka’s vast online resources and receptiveness of the professors made it easier for me.
I was delighted when I finally received my approval to travel to campus in the early Spring of 2021. Even though I had been a boarding school student throughout high school, I was quite nervous about being away from home for a very long time with no hopes of regular visits. I was also anxious about the culture shock and whether or not I would be able to adjust in a completely new environment.
To my surprise, I was able to settle in with ease and having now been in India for over a year, my experience has been quite extraordinary. I have made some wonderful friends who make my stay at Ashoka worthwhile both academically and socially.
From the fantastic Dhaba meals (especially mixed paratha) and the choley bhature served at the mess to the enriching classroom discussions, I have never felt out of place.
The classroom experience is extremely rewarding, enabled by approachable professors who frequently hold office hours. Another reason I love studying in India is that unlike studying in the West, I am able to access works done by scholars from both the Global North and the Global South. As someone who has been very critical of consuming western information this has been very insightful for me.
One of the highlights of my experience has been the opportunity to work with the International Students Association (AUISA) as the Secretary. This has allowed me to be at the forefront of the team which assists international students at Ashoka University in having a campus experience like no other. Not only has the club helped me blend well into Ashoka University by giving me points of contacts in the student body through the buddy program for freshers, but it also acts as a contact with administration to provide international students with documentation and other assistance. In late April, we organized the AUISA Food Fest, which was near impossible to pull off, and which is why, looking back on the event’s success, I feel even more connected to the team that made it possible.
So far, my experience at Ashoka has been extremely comfortable and enjoyable and the university has definitely aided my growth as a person. I am looking forward to spending my final year on campus as well.
(Edited excerpts from a conversation with Juhi Negi)