Ancient and modern, wealthy and impoverished, progressive and old-fashioned, frenetic and serene, India is an exciting land of contrasts that will challenge many of the notions that you’ve taken for granted. Whatever it is that you’d like to get out of studying in another country, India probably has it.
India has opportunities to study at the cutting edge of tech development in cities like Bengaluru. Likewise, you can dig deep into ancient philosophies that began long before recorded history in remote Himalayan foothills. This country of 1.3 billion people has opportunities for any intrepid student looking to expand their comfort zone by studying abroad.
By attending a university in India you will experience student life in ways you might never have imagined. By the time you’re done, this land will seem less foreign but no less amazing!
Where to Go
On the shores of the Arabian Sea, Mumbai is India’s commercial capital, home to over 18 million people, and a fantastic location for your study abroad program. A city as diverse as Mumbai offers countless possibilities for international students. There are opportunities to study Bollywood entertainment, economics, commerce, social justice, and urban development, just to name a few. With a number of well-regarded universities and a thriving student culture, Mumbai offers the real deal when it comes to being a student in India.
India’s (and perhaps Asia’s) technology capital, Bengaluru is a fast moving modern city located in the southern part of the country. A study abroad program here will place you on the front lines of globalization and development offering an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere. When not in class you can be enjoying the year-round comfortable weather in one of the city’s many urban parks or discussing the day’s lesson with your classmates in a nearby student pub.
India’s capital is a great place to do your study abroad. Few places are more of a mishmash of ancient and modern than this city located in northern India. While it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, Delhi is also at the forefront of defining contemporary Indian culture. It also serves as a great home base for exploring some of India’s most iconic sites, such as the Taj Mahal.
The Pink City of Jaipur, home to hilltop fortresses, colorful bazaars, and camel caravans is an unforgettable place to study abroad. This well-manicured city with its many palaces and wide avenues may seem like it’s straight out of a storybook, but it’s real and a fantastic place to study. The University of Rajasthan is one of the most well-regarded higher learning institutions in the region and is a big draw for students from all over the country in addition to international students.
To experience the diversity of India, consider a program in the city of Hyderabad, also known as the City of Pearls. Located at the crossroads of northern and southern India, Hyderabad is home to several of the most well-established universities in India. This city offers a blend of Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist populations ready to show you the charm that this city of over six million people manages to retain.
Planning Your Trip
How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in India
India is a big place and the choices about where and what to study may seem endless. Don’t be overwhelmed! There’s the right program for you here, just keep in mind what you want to get out of the experience.
Consider if you want to enroll directly at one of India’s universities or go through a study abroad program. Direct enrollment means you’ll be studying side-by-side with your Indian peers for the full experience in Indian student life. Going through a study abroad program, either with your home university or a third-party provider, will help take care of many of the details about arranging your placement. It all comes down to how independent you want to be.
The major things for you to consider will be what to study and where. Consider whether the university has programs and classes that align with your interests and course of study. Also keep in mind what climate and type of city you want to be in. India is a big country. You won’t be able to see it all on weekend trips, so you might want to choose a program near places that interest you in a climate you’ll find comfortable.
The types of student housing available in India are almost as diverse as the country is. You'll find traditional dorms, some of which cater to international students. These are a good choice if you want the familiarity of people from your own country nearby. Otherwise, you can find dorms where most of your neighbors and roommates will be Indians.
Other programs offer homestays so you can experience Indian home-life at your destination. This is a great opportunity to experience Indian life at its purest. In fact, many more Indians live at home with their parents during college than students do in America. Likewise, you can find affordable apartments to rent either with roommates or as your own studio.
To get your student visa you’ll first need to be accepted into a program of study by a recognized Indian educational institution. Once you have your admission letter you can take that and your passport to the nearest Indian embassy or consulate to get the process started. Alternatively you can apply online. Remember that the wheels of bureaucracy do not turn quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply for your visa.
Social Life & Student Culture
You’ll find the culture of your host country to be a far cry from what you’re used to. But that’s why you came here! There will be almost guaranteed culture-shock. You’ll have a better time when you embrace your new destination, engage with your classmates both in and outside of the classroom, and keep an open mind about how life runs differently on this subcontinent.
One major difference you might find between student life in India and what you’re used to back home is the focus on academics. The social aspects of being in college that are so central to the American student experience are less of a concern in India. In India, the major focus is on your academic studies. Sure there are student parties and opportunities to socialize, but they are more of an afterthought here. Staying out all hours of the night before class just isn’t a norm here. In fact, most student housing has a curfew.
Health & Safety
Many universities have basic medical services, but you shouldn’t rely on these. You’ll find most hospital facilities to be lacking in equipment and services. Although most cities have decent private clinics, they can be costly.
The best thing to do is avoid problems to begin with. Drink only purified water and be wary of street food. The air quality in large cities can be downright abysmal. Take precautions if you have any respiratory concerns. Also, do your best to avoid mosquitos as they can carry diseases like dengue and malaria.
Costs & Funding
Typical Program Cost
Lucky for you, India is one of the least expensive places to live and study in the world. Yearly tuition at an Indian university won’t be more than $8,000, and will probably be somewhat lower. Housing and meals will cost extra, but they won’t break the bank.
Even though program costs are more affordable than at most schools in North America, that long flight, tuition, and housing will add up to quite a few rupees. To offset these costs look for scholarships and grants through your home university or placement program.
There are more than a few third-party scholarships out there to help offset the costs of studying abroad in India. Check out the following to see if they’re able to help you out:
- API is a great place to start considering they give around half a million dollars a year to students studying abroad through their scholarship programs.
- USAC awards scholarships of up to $1,000 to students studying abroad in many locations, including India.
- The US State Department offers needs-based scholarships for study abroad programs through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.