While the government has put emphasis on strengthening the ‘Study in India’ programme in the recently announced budget, University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been actively involved in exchange programmes with the universities in the US, European and Scandinavian countries since 1998. For Norwegian girl, Ida Marie Gronnestad, coming to India served as a gateway to enrich her knowledge of international development.
While pursuing her Bachelor’s in International Development Studies in Oslo Metropolitan University, she realised the importance of understanding the market of a growing economy. Her four-month-long ‘Study in India’ semester exchange programme offered by the UoH helped her explore the country widely. “The professors of UoH were quite helpful and guided me to know India better. Also, the blending of various cultures in one classroom helped me understand international development extensively,” says Ida.
Since foreign students are allowed to explore various aspects of social growth, Ida took classes in Socio-Political Dimensions of Adivasi Regions, Regional Studies, India in World Affairs, Political Science, Rural Development, and Basic Hindi for international students. Another student Kaya Mallick from Ohio, USA, enrolled in UoH to experience her roots better. Born to an Indian father and an American mother, she has always been fascinated by the mythological and philosophical heritage of India.
“I was interested in Indian philosophies and had already studied Yoga and Samkhya; hence I took a course in Vedanta to enhance my understanding of the theistic philosophies,” she says, adding that the ‘Study in India’ programme made her feel accepted in the university despite being an outsider.
“Studying in India helped me in understanding Sanskrit texts and Hinduism. I took classes in Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta, which has improved my skills as a yoga instructor,” adds Kaya who studies Bachelor’s in Playwriting and Music Composition at Ohio University.
UoH offers semester and summer programmes for four-month and one-month duration, respectively. Students can take up several courses in UoH and earn credits that later get transferred to their university.
“The initiative was started to allow the international students to learn about Indian culture, history and also boost mingling of students from multicultural backgrounds,” says Aparna Rayaprol, member of the management committee of Study in India programme, UoH, while talking to Education Times.
As the director of the programme from 2009-2014, Rayaprol recalls how the initiative started with only eight students from the University of Pittsburgh, and now hosts 200 international students in a year.