Spreading wings wide: Goans migrating for higher education


An increasing number of students from Goa are pursuing higher studies in other cities across the country and abroad. Café takes a look at what motivates their choice, to leave home for the unfamiliar

At this time, students across the state are just about done with, or on the last leg of, their final exams. Over the weeks and months ahead, several of them will be taking off for different cities across the country and the world, in pursuit of higher education. While Goan students have been migrating for academic purposes since the time of the Portuguese, it is apparent that the trend is on the uptick today.

What’s the rationale that lies behind Goan students’ decisions to leave the comforts of home and home-state? The reasons, we learn, range from academic ambition to a personal desire to grow up and develop a sense of independence.

For many of the students we spoke to, who migrated for higher education within the last few years, independence and the experience of living away from home were the major incentives behind their decision. “The most important reason for my leaving Goa was that I felt it was time to leave the comfort of home and start venturing out into the ‘big bad world’. I’d gotten rather tired of leading a pretty cushy life in Goa,” quips Anjali Mascarenhas, presently pursuing her MA in English at St Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Bangalore.

And whether it was a primary motivation or not, this inevitable sense of independence became something that each student now counts as a major benefit of leaving home. Kavya Allaparthi, currently pursuing her Masters of Management at University of Melbourne, Australia, says, “I travelled alone and have no family in Melbourne. This led me to learn a lot of things on my own. It’s made me responsible and brought a lot of discipline to the way I live my daily life.”

The other major motivation behind students’ decision to leave, tilts towards academic interests – be it choice of field, course or college. Shannon D’Souza found that the field that she wanted to do her Masters in, Biomedical Sciences Research, had greater scope in the UK, where she studied at the University of Bristol, than at home in Goa. Similarly, Tejaswini Loundo chose to specialise in dance, pursuing a Diploma in Movement Arts and Mixed Media from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore – a field that does not have much scope in Goa at a higher level, she adds.

Anjali says that she chose her course largely due to the way the syllabus was structured and the texts that it included, which appealed to her more than what she would have studied had she stayed in Goa. Annalise Coelho adds, “I wanted to experience the learning environment and infrastructure, especially in terms of a research-oriented environment, that a university like CHRIST (deemed to be university), Bangalore could offer me; thus I specifically chose to do my MA in English with Communication Studies there.”

Each of the students has found that they have benefited greatly, in terms of academics, from their decision to leave Goa to pursue their respective courses, with Frederica Coelho, pursuing her MA in English at St Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Bangalore, adding, “I’ve benefited from the great amount of exposure that it’s given me, both in terms of the kinds of educational events and conferences we get to attend, as well as exposure to a different academic culture. The methods of studying and research here are more elaborate and varied. And the high level of competition here, among students from all over the country, also helps me strive to do better.”

Advantages apart, the students admit that leaving is not without challenges, ranging from demanding courses to cultural differences to the difficulties that come with living on one’s own for the first time. “The unfamiliarity can be rather disorienting and that coupled with not having family around, can make for a few very homesick days. Also, food – at times south Indian food – is really not what I want to eat after a tiring day!” says Anjali. Annalise took time to adjust to her hectic course, while Shannon and Kavya, having both moved abroad, experienced a “culture shock” coupled with homesickness in being so far away from friends and family.

Concerns about unfamiliar places also come into play, with Tejaswini saying, “The kind of freedom I have in Goa to roam about is much less in Bangalore, because I hardly know the city. And being a woman, I sometimes feel unsafe in Bangalore, maybe because the culture, society, people are different from those in Goa.” Frederica adds, “Having lived in Goa my entire life and being used to a place that is green and peaceful, Bangalore was more of a challenge with its crammed buildings and sirens blaring all night.”

However, in spite, or perhaps even because, of the challenges (and the strength developed to overcome them, as Frederica adds), the students agree that leaving home for higher education is worth it. And the benefits are not limited to academics and individual growth alone. “Studying abroad helped me learn how to strike a balance between social and professional life, both of which are equally needed, and how to find the people that I can vibe with,” Kavya mentions. Annalise adds, “I’ve met so many amazing people and made a lot of friends and I’ve had opportunities to travel and explore new places – opportunities I might not have seized had I been living at home still.”

We’ve all come across books and online blogs telling us that one of the things that youngsters in their twenties must do, one of those great ‘growing-up’ experiences, is leaving home for unfamiliar climes. For these students, truer words have never been spoken, with them adding that “Goa will always be home, but the entire world is our oyster!”