Editor’s note: The following profile is featured in the inaugural edition of the PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration. The Index focuses on cross-border tuition, and also features profiles of individual students from China and South Korea, to illustrate the varying backgrounds of Global Citizens.
Pursuing a better education to unlock opportunities for a singular career, while experiencing global exposure and a new culture.
Before coming to the U.S. to pursue his graduate degree, Harish had graduated from an Indian university and worked at an IT company for more than three years. While his experience was marked by promotions, he found himself hitting a glass ceiling. Bigger opportunities, he said, felt out of reach without a master’s degree earned from a university abroad. So, he decided to go get one.
“I wanted to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree so I could gain knowledge about the IT software industry and go forward in my career,” Harish explained. Another factor which weighed into his decision to study abroad was his frequent interaction with his company’s clients, most of whom were American and European, he said.
After thoroughly researching schools, tuition cost, reputation and employment opportunities, Harish applied to 11 schools in the United States, and ultimately decided to attend Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
“At Bentley I was offered a scholarship that compared to the other colleges, and it was very near to metropolitan cities,” both Boston and New York, Harish explained. “So I thought Bentley was right for me in order to help me pursue career opportunities [after graduation],” he said.
A $15,000 annual scholarship and a pocket full of dreams were enough for Harish to pursue his education in the U.S., even though it didn’t entirely cover his tuition fees or living expenses.
The scholarship, Harish recalled, was not easy to come by. The university requires him to maintain a 3.0 GPA, which has so far not been a problem with his 3.54 GPA score. Even though the monetary support is helpful, it has left him looking for other sources to pay for his living expenses.
For Harish, much like other students, surviving on savings alone was proving to be difficult, which led him to take on a $15.50 an hour, on-campus job at the school’s computer science lab that demands around 15 hours each week.
His parents, Harish said, are also helping him cover any remaining tuition and other expenses, so he graduates debt-free. That’s a rare feat, considering more than 76 percent of Indian students use some form of loans, and nearly a quarter have no access to scholarships or grants. Both Harish and his parents, he said, consider his education an investment powered by hard work, which they expect will one day pay off with a better job and a higher salary back in India.
As a result, most of his time and energy goes into his studies, but he still manages to make some time for a social life. He enjoys his time stateside visiting museums and exploring Boston’s history, and has taken advantage of the frequent events both on and off campus — making friends from all over the world, including students from the United States, Vietnam, China, and throughout Europe and South America.
Coming to the United States might seem challenging to students from different ethnicities, but for Harish it was a relatively simple transition. “I think in terms of communication there was not much difficulty,” Harish explained.
“I think in terms of communication there was not much difficulty,” Harish explained. “From Grade I, Class I, my education has been in English – all the way up to graduation, so there was no problem in terms of the English language.”
His previous work experience also played an important role in helping him handle social situations. Despite all of this, Harish did have some trouble adjusting to northeast U.S. seasonality. Boston winters mark a stark contrast to the balmy, windswept weather in Hyderabad, Harish’s hometown, a southern Indian city of 3.5 million people known for its tech industry and its distinct regional cuisine.
Harish said that while he’s enjoyed his time abroad, he has been prone to some homesickness, especially when it comes to cuisine.
“I miss the food. The food that we cook back in my home country, I can say, is completely different,” Harish said. Cooking for himself has eased the pining for home a bit though, he says. As it turns out, he found a go-to spot. “It’s an Indian market where they have all kinds of food that we used to have in India. … I would purchase all my goods from that market so I can cook for myself.”
To help fend off his homesickness for his family, Harish has resorted to using mobile apps to connect with his parents almost every day.
His parents have been a strong pillar of support for his education, finances, and emotional needs. They pine for him to return home after his graduation, he said.
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About the Index
PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, focuses on the economic impact of Global Citizens, individuals who typically are experienced international travelers, and have the wealth or discretionary income to support the pursuit of personal priorities, including cross-border education, health care and wellness for themselves and their family members, or other experiences outside of their home countries.