Read Our Executive Director’s (ED) Message
As an academic, I have had vast experiences working with students of all ilk, but it wasn’t until a faithful trip some twenty years ago to the beautiful city of Bergen, Norway, where I completed a research project as a Visiting Scholar, that I found an interest in international students. It was during this time, while living in a student apartment and experiencing all that comes with it, that I became aware of the difficulties and issues faced for a student living in a foreign land. My experience in Norway sparked something within me and my interest on the subject of ‘international students’ has continued ever since. Later in life, I lived in another student apartment located in Central London in 2006 while visiting the United Kingdom as a visiting Scholar via the support of the European Commission Scholarship. This stay provided me with several opportunities in delivering seminars at a number of universities within the U.K. and interacting with international students from all over the world. This gave me the opportunity to learn their issues, challenges, problems, cultural differences, and preferences. The international students that I came in frequent contact with were from varying countries ranging from India, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Korea, Philippines and many more.
During my time as a PhD student in the U.K., I travelled within the U.K. a lot to participate in several seminars and conferences, and that extensive engagement provided me with an opportunity to learn from the experiences and stories of many international students. This learning continued deeper in Canada while teaching as a Professor in a government-funded community college.
Through my experiences and learning, I was very pleased to see that some international students were doing amazing in their study and career while enjoying an international lifestyle. However, I also saw international students who failed to achieve their goal and materialize the potential they had. Yes, there certainly was a difference in the educational system and quality between students’ country of origin and their chosen country to study in – indeed, part of the reason to study abroad in the first place is for this reason. However, oftentimes international students were not well informed and prepared for adapting, and succeeding, in their new environment. I have met with countless students who were frustrated by the cultural differences they experience, feeling lonely and falling into depression soon after arriving at their destination. International students have often told me they had very little to no career counselling in their country of origin and that they chose the ‘abroad’ program simply based on their agent or friend’s advice. I was surprised by learning some of their response that they had no idea or personal reason why they chose that university/ college or that program of study. It was also a pity to learn that international students often tell that the support they receive from their agent back home ends when they reach their universities – in fact losing support when they need help and guidance the most. International students often find vast differences in professor-student interaction, class-room method, learning styles, university support layout, student evaluation, and many other aspects when compared to the system they experience back home which is something they were not prepared for. As a professor, I have seen international students’ frustration erupt when they find that the degree they completed was not sought after in the labour market they chose to seek a career in.
Through my expansive professional and academic career, I have learned key issues and aspects of international students which is seldom being researched, discussed, shared, told, nor got required policy attention. My realization of this gap has become a life-changer in my career. I believed that if I pursue a full-time career as an academic, that could be fulfilling at my most personal level. The more I thought about this, the more I realized the gap I saw in international student’s plight was not readily visible to everyone. The job of an academic, whether that is in Canada or elsewhere, will always exist but I yearn for more. I assumed that my experiences with international student plight may not be properly understood, recognized, discussed, or remedied for a long time to come so I saw my destiny in serving these international communities more than being a full-time academic or pursuing other high-profile careers. It is this conviction which led me to establish an educational consulting company with an ambition to deliver a service that is distinct in values and practices.
Now we are a business which is driven by moral values, a sense of responsibility, and a commitment to all students. Our value is in maximizing international student’s potential and saving prospective international students from falling victim to poor counselling which is not properly informed with the reality of the ‘university-world’ in major destination countries. We are motivated to save international students’ waste of time and resources which is happening just because of the lack of ‘quality counselling’. We are dedicated to rescue international students who are about to make a wrong choice in terms of university/college, programs of study, or the destination country. We aim at helping international student with our lived experiences as well as utilizing up-to-date research that potentially helps them rethink their program of study when needed.
We can help you, the prospective international student, by utilizing our own experiences as an international student, as well as an experienced academic, to show how to achieve the most from the western educational model. We are inspired to save you the from making a decision that you would likely regret later and help everyone who reaches out whether they become our client or not. Above all, we are committed to assist you/our clients in reaching well-informed, well-assessed decisions in selecting programs of study, universities/colleges, and their destination country so that your ‘study abroad’ journey remains highly fulfilling.
Feel free to get in touch and let us know your issues, problems, and any questions you may have. I urge you all to get connected with us. Let’s work together to make everyone’s ‘study abroad’ journey painless and productive.
Lok Bhattarai, PhD
Education Horizon Abroad