'We miss the nightlife'

The Baldwin Women’s Methodist College has a lot of students from Ivory Coast, a small country in West Africa.

bonding Mireille, Marie France, Binia, Marlene, Carine, Nancy, Flora, Vanessa and Helene. These students have been pursuing various courses in management, computer application and commerce in the college. Though their country is in a political crisis and just recovering from the Ivorian Civil War of 2010-2011, these students hope to find lucrative jobs in their native places soon after finishing their education.

Most of them selected India to pursue their education because of their elder siblings and cousins, who had studied here. For the last four years, many Ivorian students have been arriving in the City with a lot of hopes. With lots of Indian companies making their presence felt in the Ivory Coast, the relationship between India and Ivory Coast is getting stronger by the day. Hence, these students had prior knowledge about India.
“The quality of education and the facilities available are excellent in India, especially in Bangalore. There are a lot of good colleges to choose from. We are happy with the syllabus and course structure. In the beginning, it was difficult to follow the lecturers but now, we can make out what everyone is saying. But it is still difficult for them to understand our pronunciation,” says Marie France.

But this doesn’t stop them from integrating with the Indian students. “We take part in all the cultural activities. During ethnic days, we present our tradition and culture. One of our Ivorian friends Flora has won many awards at cultural events. Last time, when we performed our ethnic dances, Gbegbe and Zoglou, we got a huge appreciation from the college,” informs Binia.

Like other foreign students, these students also love to eat a variety of food. Since their country was a French governed colony for a long time, the French cuisine has had a strong influence on their food preferences.

Most of these girls stay in rented houses and apartments in the areas around Koramangala and Banasawadi and cook on their own. “But that does not mean we don’t like Indian food. We like biryani, chicken kebabs, parota, butter naan and all tandoori items. Of course, the fish curries are awesome too,” reveals Vanessa.

Though Bangalore has become home to a number of African students, these girls feel people still stare at them. “In college, we have friendly classmates and our teachers are very cooperative. It is comfortable and safe on campus. But the situation is not the same outside. Many times, auto drivers have blackmailed us and even spat on us. They have tried to assault us for not giving them extra money. We can’t go anywhere alone as sometimes people speak bad words or behave in an indecent way,” says Flora.

But they are in love with the City. “We have so many places like malls and parks where we can hang out. There are more than 1000 Ivorian students studying in Bangalore. We all meet up regularly. Unlike Ivory Coast, the City is very peaceful. But we miss the nightlife. And if people change their mindset towards us and respect us, our life will be more pleasant here,” says Vanessa.

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