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8 Things to Know Before You Study in India

By Guest Writer

Updated April 14, 2021 Updated April 14, 2021

Guest post: Hasibuddin Ahmed

I can assume that, as you have decided to study in India, you have done a little preparation of your own. Maybe you’ve learned a little phrase or two, or have tasted the famous chicken tikka masala and biryani to get a taste of your food routine during your study period in India. But before you are ready to say ‘Namaste’ to your classmates, this article will help you to give a better view of what you can expect once you arrive.

Here are some of the few things you should know before setting off to study in India:

1. Get ready to receive a few culture shocks 
Holi festival of colours

Remember that visiting and living in a place are two different things. So, do not go by any of your friends or relatives who have just visited India, and be prepared for some culture shocks. The more you think you know about India, the more you’ll meet the glaring truth that you know little about the country. You can always expect some strange (for you) events and that doesn’t count ‘eating with hands’ or the ‘mysterious headshake’.

2. The diversity will overwhelm you

So you have an Indian friend, and seem to have a good understanding, share the same interests and you’ve learned a bit about his/her culture. But, when you start living here, you will understand that India is so diverse and there are so many different cultures, traditions and languages. There are more than 20 officially recognized languages and each different state has its own culture and traditions. So, it is advisable not to jump to any quick conclusions – remember are only seeing a small part of the whole. 

3. India is more than the mystical picture you have in your mind 
Bagmane Tech Park

For those who have a view of India as an exotic Oriental destination shown in movies, be prepared for surprise. It is not the land of snake charmers or mysteries that you may have heard or seen. It is one of the fastest-developing countries in the world, and its technology infrastructure is also growing. You can find a lot of start-ups, and career opportunities in the technology field have increased in recent years. And no matter what, do not mention that exotic picture to any Indians you meet. It would be highly disrespectful.

Students in India

4. Dress moderately

The people of India are a bit conservative when it comes to dressing. This is more applicable to women than men. Exposing too much will lead to unwanted attention and is sometimes not considered culturally appropriate. Also, while attending classes it is good to maintain the dress code that is being followed by the majority. You can buy Indian clothes to blend in with the population, which I think you will surely find fun as they are generally colorful.

5. Get used to the idea of being recognized as a foreigner

Especially for those who are from Europe or North America, there is a high chance that you will find yourself attracting a lot of attention. You may find a lot of people staring at you or even looking at you in an uncomfortable manner, but it is all harmless. More than often Indians are very helpful and genuine.

6. Learn to be patient 
Indian street

It is highly probable that you will come in contact with the elusive concept of time followed here. You might feel things are not getting done on time and there are unexpected delays. Not only will the phrase ‘I will do it today’ test your patience here, so will the merciless traffic and the crowded public transport which is packed like a sardine can. But things certainly do get done here and if you are a management student, you will love the term ‘jugaad’, a highly effective type of Indian ‘hack’.  

7. People are the best GPS

If you are trying to find a way out of that maze of ‘gullys’, there is a high chance your GPS is not going to help you. Instead ask a local person and s/he will guide you easily.

8. Go local to enjoy the best of India 
Taj Mahal

What is the point in coming to study in India and not enjoying the wealth of rich heritage and beauty it has to offer? If you are looking to travel, the best way is to do what the locals do. Seek the help of your Indian peers in college about how to travel and they will surely help you. Indians are also very good hosts, so expect to be treated to levels of hospitality you never dreamed of by some of your classmates.

Truth be told, there are a lot of things that you should know before going to study in India. No, I am not trying to scare you; the thing is that India is such a big country in terms of geography, population, culture, traditions, languages – so there’s a lot that to say that won’t fit here. Still, the above tips are enough for you to get ready, choose a college or university and say ‘Namaste’. I know you are dying to join your hands and say that word. Good luck!


Hasibuddin Ahmed
Hasib is a professional writer working with Indian career site Naukri.com, and often writes articles that help students in making career decisions. He is an avid reader, foodie and loves travelling to new places. Reach him on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

This article was originally published in December 2015 . It was last updated in April 2021

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