Cheated by agents, distanced by locals

Cheated by agents, distanced by locals

Besides seeking good education, young students from Africa come here in the hope of having an international experience, learning about a new country, its culture and people. Unfortunately, most of them end up being cheated by agents and even the local experience is unlike what they expect.

“The agent said India would be a good place to study, so I came here, even though I didn’t know anyone. They told us that we would get part-time jobs here, like students do in the US but there are no jobs for us,” a student from Nigeria, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

She says she does not feel safe in the city. “People pass comments at us. They don’t see us as human beings, they treat us like animals,” she said. She said that African students are charged more for everything, from bus tickets to apartment rents.

Though her experience with locals has not been good, classmates are more accepting, she said. “I had lots of friends in my first college who were from different parts of India. But in my new college, my classmates usually speak Hindi because they don’t know English very well. So I have not been able to make friends.”

She is not the only one who feels this way. Another student from Togo, echoed her experience. He has also been cheated by an agent who promised a college of global standards when actually it was not even accredited. “I left that college after a semester and have joined a better college. Life here has been hard but I don’t want to go back empty-handed, without a degree,” he said.

He said that, as an African student, finding accommodation is difficult and often, they have to deal with bullying owners. He pointed out, “There are lots of Indians living in Africa. We are welcoming and we respect them. Even the laws in my country to protect foreigners are strong. We expected the same kind of treatment when we came here, but we are disappointed,” he said.

Locals view them suspiciously and make them feel alien, students say. “People here are racist. They don’t even want to sit with us in an autorickshaw because they don’t want to touch us,” said 20-year-old John Jerry, from Mali.

He does not feel safe in the city because he fears he will be attacked, even if he does not do anything wrong. “There are colleges in my country too, but I came here because I wanted the experience of being in a different country. I am disappointed. If anyone I know back home is planning to come here, I tell them to be careful,” he said.

Musab Hassan, a young entrepreneur, said that colleges with international students should take extra measures to create an atmosphere that encourages cultural exchange. Cultural awareness can foster friendships.

“Often international students tend to be in a close-knit group with others from their own country and that leaves less room for interaction with local students. Colleges should encourage interaction by assigning a student guide or conducting team-building activities,” he suggested.

In his college, Musab had classmates from different parts of the world. He recalled that it was a rewarding experience. “We shouldn’t say no to having students from other countries because there is a lot we can learn from them, we can gain perspective and understand other cultures,” he said.

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