This student was no different from any others. He left his home country to enter a top university in the UK and the entire world.
Full of hopes and ready to crush it, expecting nothing less but a First just to make his friends jealous and parents proud, he was both excited and even frightened to think about the endless opportunities that are waiting for him as a graduate.
From the very first day at university he started hearing stories about the City and how prestigious it was, so he soon joined the army of students who were dreaming about a career as an investment banker or a consultant, whatever that meant: amazing salary in a fast-paced industry – what else could you wish for?
Yet, his dreams would never come true…
The student life was way too much to handle. Instead of living in Hallward Library and pursuing his academic success, the lad become obsessed with random students societies, attending brain-washing leadership development conferences, and partying too much at Oceana or Coco Tang, just to name a few.
Sooner than he could realise, he was a desperate final year student waiting outside of the sports hall for the winter session to begin, completely uncertain about his future. One after another, he left the exams with his head spinning and hands shaking, not sure what the hell just happened and still trying to figure out how to apply Poisson process or Markov Chain in the real world.
Two weeks later he was standing outside of the tutor’s office with a slight glimpse of hope, yet feeling the crushing weight of desperation. He knew he was in trouble, and boy was he right…
Getting the sheet with the exams results was not the Christmas present he had hoped for. He skimmed through the dreadful double digits that began with 4s and 5s and realised he was in deep shit… and it was only the beginning.
With the magical “Expected 2:1” removed from his CV, the doors were shut. And I’m not even talking about the BIG companies, which need to sort through thousands of applications for every position, thus, are using university grades as an indicator of your suitability for a job you have never done in your life, I’m talking about smaller companies that are following the trend too. So, drowning in self-pity, and after a miserably failed final round interview with GS, he didn’t have any other choice but to return to his homeland with his head hung low.
Yet, even there he didn’t find the compassion he was looking for.
Everywhere he went he felt the judging looks of the locals, as if they were saying: “See? I knew he wouldn’t make it…”.
Surrounded with negativity, he did the only sensible thing ever: packed his luggage and fled to the furthest country in the world – India – trying to escape the misery.
Did things change for the better, you wonder?
Far from it.
The young lad was met with dust, noise, killing smell and plenty of cows.
Rather than a limousine, he used to ride jam-packed busses, clattering tuk-tuks and even a classy-looking oil-leaking Royal Enfield Bullet.
If suffering from heat waves and never ending monsoon rains was exciting, sleeping with his clothes on and wrapping himself under three blankets during the winter colds was even more so.
Every single day he was forced to eat the spiciest food in the world (so spicy that it would make him cry) in a dodgy-looking dhaabaa. On the positive, rats under his feet and a cloud of flies swarming around the ‘salad’ were always happy to keep the company.
Every single night dozens, heck, hundreds of mosquitos, thirsty for some fresh European blood, were very kind to remind him about the potential benefits of malaria and dengue fever, too.
As for the salary, he earned £200 a month, that is, for two weeks of work he would get as much as a fresh graduate trainee in London earns in a single day – not exactly the dream he was looking for, huh?
And worst of all, instead of finding peace in Delhi, he was taken to numerous unwelcoming, even hostile places in India: from sandy Jaipur and cold Naggar in the Himalayas, to the way-too-sacred cities of Haridwar and Varanasi (witnessing a spine-chilling cremation ceremony was obligatory too), Agra and the Taj Mahal, packed with tourists, as well as Mumbai and Goa, infamous for the Russian mafia, drug dealers, beautiful beaches and crazy trance parties…
So mind my words, student! If you don’t want to end up living like some kind of Indiana Jones, having to explore new countries and peculiar places, get to know nerve-racking cultures and taste mind-blasting food, then you’d better work your ass off for that 2:1 to satisfy the automatic screening systems and lazy graduate recruiters. Otherwise, you’re doomed for misery, potentially even greater than this.
As for the young lad, with his life shattered to pieces, he is about to be exiled to yet another dangerous country – Malaysia – so the nightmare continues…
When and where will it end? – I’m certain that even he doesn’t know the answer.
But if, by any chance, you ever meet him on the streets of Kuala Lumpur or any other place in the world, be sure to say hi.
You can recognise him by being very tall, insanely handsome, and smiling.