Study abroad: Part 4 | A few Punjab students in Canada return as home is where the heart is

A study visa is an assured way to get into the country of their dreams and fulfill the ultimate goal of settling abroad (Canada). But not every student is keen to have a Permanent Residency (PR) after pursuing studies there. A few exceptions are there. They return to their motherland despite doing well overseas.

The reasons are both personal and professional. They think India – being a dynamic and one of the fastest-growing economies – is a hub of start-ups and is at present providing great entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth; some return for security reasons as gun violence is surging in Toronto; a few want to join their family business; while some find life in Canada a ‘mitthi jail’ (sweet jail), an expression that can be viewed as an oxymoron, that is, these students feel they are getting trapped in their dreamland – after completing their studies and getting $4,000 to $6,000 jobs, these students remain in a web of house, car and other EMIs for several years of their lives.

Sanchit Abrol (29) from Ludhiana had gone to Canada for doing his Master’s in Information Technology (IT) and Networking after doing his BTech in Computer Science from Punjab in 2015. But after completing his PG in a Toronto college, he returned to Ludhiana in 2018 and started teaching math which he was doing before leaving for Canada at a coaching centre.

Despite the burden of repaying a huge education loan of Rs 30 lakh, he was hardly in two minds whether to go back to Ludhiana.

After two years of struggle back home he found a good job for himself and became a district election programmer, which the Punjab government appoints on a contract basis in every district of the state to handle election-related data and other things.

“The total cost of my two years’ course in Canada was Rs 45 lakh. I took an education loan of Rs 30 lakh as studying in Canada is a costly affair. The remaining Rs 15 lakh I managed by working part-time there. Inflation is very high there. I was allowed to work 24 hours a week which was just sufficient for my board and lodging and transportation expenses. For paying the remaining college fee I used to work 40 hours, which was allowed per week during vacations,” said Sanchit.

“Canadian education system focuses more on practical work and knowledge, unlike in India,” Sanchit said, adding that after completing his course he could have easily found a $6,000 job there “which is quite high as per the Indian standards or what I am earning here now, but I feel that there are better job opportunities in India now”.

In Canada majority students end up doing one or other kind of labour work as very few get high-profile jobs, he said.

Sanchit says that law and order is also a big issue in Toronto these days. There is not much security as gun violence is increasing day by day. “One of my friends who had established his business in Toronto is now moving to Nova Scotia because of lack of security.”

“I am still paying back my education loan. Had I been in Canada, I would have finished paying back my loan because the salary there is in dollars. But still I am happy with my decision to return home, though my family in Ludhiana did not like my idea of coming back without even repaying the education loan,” Sanchit said, adding that life is better in India both personally and professionally.

Aryamann Sharma (24) of Jalandhar went to Canada after completing his 10+2 in 2016 to pursue a three-year advanced course in ‘industrial engineering’. But he returned in November 2019 after completing his course there.

“I took money from my parents for my first-year fee, but the rest I paid my own way as I had established my own business there in partnership with a Canadian citizen and also got export-import code from the authorities there for my business,” said Aryamann, who travelled entire Canada in his three-year stay to explore the business opportunities there.

“My family has sanitaryware products and accessories business in India, and I started the same in Canada and was earning well too. But I realised that I could do better in India if I join my family business,” said Aryamann, who is the managing director of the firm run by his family.

“For my exposure to the world of business, it was a good experience as I learned a lot during my stay in Canada. I am sure the experience will stand me in good stead,” said Aryamann, who returned to India just two days before he was to get his work permit for three years.

“In reality, these Indian students in Canada miss their home and family a lot. Many students feel that life was good in India, but they don’t speak their mind. They never admit it in front of others. They feel lot of pressure to continue there, as their families have sacrificed a lot and have pinned their hopes on them. More often than not, they get carried away by this family pressure and eventually get trapped in a web of house, car and other EMIs for several years of their lives abroad. They call it a ‘mitthi jail’ (sweet jail),” says Aryamann.

He said that one of his friends from Delhi has also returned and joined his family business in India.

“Those who have a choice of joining family business back home, they prefer to return. But majority of students going to Canada are either from farming background or service class,” said Aryamann.

Another student, who wished not to be quoted, said that he had gone to Canada to enjoy life. “My family, which has a good business in India, wanted me to study in Canada.”

Consultants in Jalandhar say that cases of students returning after completing their studies in Canada are few and far between. Canada is a student-friendly country and issues PR to students during their work permit period.

“But in some sectors, including pharmaceuticals, students find more scope in India, and a few of them have returned and they are doing well here,” said consultant Gurpreet Singh.

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