Missamari to Manchester: A Student’s Journey

Bhavin’s journey from Mountain born school boy to fully fledged Medical student in metropolitan Manchester is a unique one, not to be taken lightly.

Over 2,000,000 Indian students leave the country to study every year and that number continues to rise.

However, the majority of these students tend to hail from suburban dwellings.

The cities in India are amongst the most populous across the world, so when city dwelling Indian kids leave their bustling towns to advance their studies, they often find international Educational centres to be rather quiet in comparison.

For Bhavin, though, it was a completely different story. Transplanting himself from the isolated mountain community of Missamari, he recounts his first impressions of Manchester and how he adjusted to living in his new home:

“I’d never been a big football fan as a child, although I wish I had been.

As soon as I got my papers to study in Manchester, the only cultural touch point that my fellow village people could offer me were references to Manchester United and Alex Ferguson. I laughed along and nodded, but truthfully, besides the fact that I knew Manchester University was one of the best learning institutions in the UK, I knew very little else about the city that I was going to be spending the next five years of life in.

Before I left Missamari, my Father talked to me whilst I packed my bags. The clothes I was packing were mostly traditional items, as I carefully folded my veshti away my Father warned me that I may need to adopt a more Western style of dress once I arrive in Manchester. My Father was nervous about my leaving. He wasn’t scared about the crime though. He wasn’t afraid of the football hooliganism. The thing my Father was afraid of was my Indian heritage.

I was breaking from tradition. For generations my family had farmed the land, making the most of the ever expanding crop of land we had inherited from our ancestors. Rice had been our main export for decades, but rice was to be my future.

After excelling in School, my Father knew that I had to leave the country in order to pursue the career of my dream. He’d never had the opportunity to leave India. Although he’d spent his youth travelling through the country, hitching on the hundreds of miles of railway lines, my Father had never left the country of his birth. I was the first in my family to do so and the thought that my rural cultural upbringing would hold me back was a fear that my Father held right until I left for the airport.

“Son, you must learn. Not just about the bones and the fixings of the body, but also of the culture of the people that live there. Go to one of the football matches, cheer on the Manchester Uniteds and become one of the people there.”

My Father’s fears turned out to be unfounded. Manchester is a truly Cosmopolitan city, one that is filled with people of all different cultures and nationality. England is a country that has embraced me with open arms – in a month’s time my Father will be visiting me and leaving his native India for the first time ever.

I told him to take a piece of Missamari with him for me.”