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Making The Shift From The International Curriculum To PUC: A Student’s Point Of View

Posted: October 15, 2015

An NRI student narrates the adjustments she had to make when she had to move to India from Canada and her shift from the international curriculum to PUC in India.

Living in the U.S.A was equivalent to living inside a bubble. A warm red, white, and blue bubble. Although I was told that I was free, I didn’t realise that this bubble was slowly shrinking, suffocating me from the harsh realities that the world faces.

I was equipped to change, defying human tendency to fear such things. I’d been moving my entire life, from India to Canada, then to USA and then back to Canada and then finally, back to India. It was like my entire life was a quadratic function. The move from USA to Canada wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, because there wasn’t much that was different. Of course, making new friends and adjusting to a different lifestyle (one that included French and not Spanish as a second language – one of hardest things I had to cope with, but if we’re being honest, I was perpetually horrible at both) were inevitable. Needless to say, the best part about moving to Canada was discovering Tim Hortons and the wonder of bagged milk, oh, and free health care too.

After I finally settled down in Canada and made some solid friends, I found myself packing up my suitcase yet again. This time, it wasn’t just a five hour drive between two countries. It was a 20 hour flight, destination: where the set of ‘Scorch Trials’ should have been, and great, guess I won’t need these snow pants anymore. I was moving back to Bangalore, India.

At this point, the only thing I knew about India was how incredibly hot it was there and coconut trees, lots of coconut trees. This perfectly displays how sheltered I was in North America, and how I knew nothing about the world other than the little bubble I lived in. When I first arrived in Bangalore, this bubble popped.

The only things I could focus on were the cows, the dogs, and the litter. Seeing people consciously throw trash on the ground was appalling. I’d lived my entire life rarely seeing homeless people and then I saw children, begging for money at the traffic lights. This was when my paradigm shift occurred. I realised that I wasn’t grateful for what I had in North America and that you never know the true value of things until they’re gone.

This perfectly displays how sheltered I was in North America, and how I knew nothing about the world other than the little bubble I lived in. When I first arrived in Bangalore, this bubble popped.

Nonetheless, there were many positive points to this move. I got to see all my relatives again and reassure them that they could speak to me in native tongue because I wasn’t entirely the foreign conceptualisation they thought I was. Things were going well and I finally got to be part of my baby cousin’s life and be the big “sister” that I always wanted to be. However, all good things must come to an end, don’t they (in North America, the only time I used this phrase was when I was about to finish chocolate cake, oh, how things have changed)? I had to start school.

Meeting the national syllabus head-on

I was definitely not ready to start school in a national syllabus institution, one where I’d have to take Kannada. Oh dear, this is when I started to appreciate French. Thus, after a few tears, a couple of chocolate bars and a handful of John Green books to help me through the situation, I was enrolled into an international school. Initially, I was solely content about wearing a uniform as I’d get to sleep in more and spend less time in front of my wardrobe, wondering whether I should wear green or a darker shade of green. But then, I was exposed to the horror that is formal uniforms. The good thing is that I finally learned how to wear a tie, after screaming into a pillow multiple times. The key is to have patience and watch YouTube tutorials.

The international (Cambridge) syllabus was exceptionally harder than the curriculum I faced in Canada. It is, however, one of the best syllabuses out there, as it tackles application and understanding in the most challenging way. Even art, the subject I used to be the best at, was the most difficult for me because of how detailed and thought-out the coursework and assignments had to be. But the satisfaction of finishing a piece was one of the finest feelings I’d felt, because of the hard work I put into it. In order for my transition into university (degree courses) to be easier as I would be staying in India, after I finished my IGCSE exams, I went on to Pre-University College (PUC).

The international (Cambridge) syllabus was exceptionally harder than the curriculum I faced in Canada. Even art, the subject I used to be the best at, was the most difficult for me because of how detailed and thought-out the coursework and assignments had to be.

The PUC challenge

PUC is the opposite of the Cambridge syllabus. PUC doesn’t evaluate intelligence based on how well you’ve understood the concepts and how you’ve applied what you’ve learned. The correction system is based on memorisation. If someone doesn’t understand the subject at all and writes the same content in the textbooks on their exam sheet, they’ll get 100% results. This is not how education should work. After being in an educational environment where skills and knowledge were assessed on real-life application, PUC was, frankly, shocking. However, I do appreciate that I have an education, whereas some people, kids, don’t even have the luxury of what I take for granted.

The correction system is based on memorisation. If someone doesn’t understand the subject at all and writes the same content in the textbooks on their exam sheet, they’ll get 100% results. This is not how education should work.

The shift from my international schooling to PUC was difficult, but I adjusted like I always did. The thought that kept me going throughout all these changes was that everything happens for a reason. I have yet to find out my reason, but isn’t that what life is about?

My advice to anyone moving back to India from somewhere abroad is to be open to change and to look at what you can offer to society and what you can take from it. There is a lot that needs to be changed in India, but there are also plenty of things we foreigners need to learn from this country. I became independent, took transit wherever I needed to go, which is something I would’ve never learnt when I was in my international school because there wasn’t a need for it.

My experience moving to and from all these different countries was something I dreaded for the longest time. Whenever I felt exhausted with trying to answer the question, “Why did you come back?” I would stop and think: “What if I never came back?” I kept wondering what my outlook on life would be like if I was still in Canada or USA. Then I became conscious of the fact that if I was still in those countries, I’d be trapped inside my bubble, unaware of the right set of circumstances I’m glad I was exposed to.

Image via Shutterstock.

Currently a student, addicted to writing, eating, music and living life to the fullest.

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Comments

3 Comments


  1. Needed to read this . Thanks

  2. All the very Best Nayana. Happy that you had a positive outlook towards the challenges that were thrown in your way. If not for that, you might have surely had a tough time adjusting. As you said, everyone need to see the positive side of things where ever they go…do write more.
    Btb, your inputs about the difference between international and other board has helped us in understanding from a learner’s perspective…thanks for that.

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