From India to Britain - A Year in Durham

Posted by Anne Rhebergen • Friday, April 1. 2011 • Category: Global Career
When I arrived in India from the Netherlands for my internship it was Bipin who answered any question I had about Indian culture. For me, someone who has never been in India before, it was really nice to have someone who, as Indian, knows the Indian culture perfectly to help me explain things. Another reason why he knew so well how to help me was because he himself is also experienced in going abroad. So he knew exactly how you feel when you take the leap to study in a completely different culture. Since I was already curious about his experience in the UK I thought now would be the perfect time to interview him and share his experiences with you as well.

by alh1

KM: Hello Bipin, Thank you for finding the time for this interview. Could you shortly explain for our readers who you are, where you are from and what you do?

Bipin Nambiar: I am from Kerala; I studied engineering at Vishweshwarya Technical University and worked in Mumbai for 3 years. I also studied abroad for my MBA at the University of Durham in the UK.

KM: What made you decide to go abroad? And why did you choose the University of Durham?

Bipin Nambiar: I had multiple reasons to go abroad. As an investment for my later career in management, to learn the skills I would need for this and also to gain international experience by working together with students from various nations. I chose the University of Durham because it had a good reputation and it was also ranked highly by the Financial Times.

Durham University
by jepoirrier

KM: What are the differences between the education systems of India and the UK?

Bipin Nambiar: The context and the way of teaching in both education systems is very different. In the UK the education system is very open compared to the education system in India. There was no issue in explaining things with respect to any of the so called “tabooed” things. They even use YouTube in class to explain matters. I also felt the professors were very friendly. They were formal in class but very informal outside class. For example one time outside class we went for drinks with a professor. I remember also that one time during the lecture we watched a football match because England was playing.

KM: What did you have to do to enroll in Durham?

Bipin Nambiar: I had to follow the criteria set by the university. This included a minimum of 3 years of working experience and an IELTS test with a score of above 6.5/10. There is a waiting list they are working with but if they like your resume and the essays you have written then they will shortlist you. After that you will have a telephone interview and finally, if you got accepted, you get the call.

KM: How did you experience the first few days after your arrival in Durham?

Bipin Nambiar: I experienced the first few days in Durham as very quiet and cold but also as very exciting – and I loved it! It was my first time travelling abroad and everything was new to me. My new housemate showed me around the city but I was already kind of acquainted with it because of my friends and relatives who knew Durham. Also I knew most places in the UK before going there because of football. It was nice to finally see the places in real like Manchester and Liverpool after following football for 10 years.

Durham Street
by Shaun Garrity

KM: Did you stay in private accommodation or accommodation provided by the university?

Bipin Nambiar: I stayed in private accommodation and that was actually probably the best decision I took. The advantage over accommodation provided by the university was that you mingle much more with other students instead of only mixing with post grads. In the daytime you meet up with your class mates and at the end of the day you can meet up with other people. I really liked my housemates, which were from India and Turkey, as well. I could not have been more lucky. My friend found the house on the Internet and then we checked with the university if the offer was genuine. Since everything was fine we took it!

KM: If you would have to highlight one experience which one would you pick?

Bipin Nambiar: Wow, that’s a tough question but if I would say the friends I made and the time we spent together, especially the weekends and the 'n' number of barbeques in the summer. For example, when we went to Old Trafford to see a football match. For me it was a dream coming true. We watched West Ham versus Manchester United and it was a great experience. Also other times when we were playing cricket with the Durham staff team or playing football ourselves belong to my best memories. I also experienced snow in the UK for the first time. We made silly videos together like diving into the snow, playing around and throwing it at each other. It was awesome.

KM: What was the hardest thing for you to adjust to in the UK?

Bipin Nambiar: For me it was not so hard because I had my friends and family supporting me. I guess I was quite lucky or maybe it was because I was already going to boarding school at an early age. So I think I got used to adjust to new situations. If there is one thing I would have to pinpoint down then it is that the costs of living are high and that traveling is expensive.

Bipin (top right) and friends
(c) Bipin Nambiar

KM: Are there any tips though you would like to give to Indian people going abroad?

Bipin Nambiar: Yes, I have a lot! Bring a lot of Indian spices with you, cook yourself, bring clothes from home and don’t buy them there, do what you are there for, manage your time, study when required, don’t complain about each and everything, learn to adjust and most importantly, please, please mingle with every student. Don’t stick with people who are also from India. Use this opportunity to get to know new people!

KM: Anything else you would like to add to all this?

Bipin Nambiar: I would like to say, enjoy your time abroad. It’s nice and you should make good use of it! PS Go and enjoy the English summer! It’s nice and long and I love it.

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