IN recent years, there has been a significant increase in people going abroad in academic pursuits in the hope of being able to settle there once the studies are over. The economic landscape of Pakistan is one of the main reasons that encourages individuals to pursue opportunities overseas in search of a more secure future. However, it is important to recognise that while the allure of foreign education is strong, the reality of the experience can be challenging.

Once overseas, the true challenges begin. Securing an initial job feels akin to winning the lottery in the current post-pandemic era. The global economic downturn has markedly reduced job opportunities, and our people’s favourite destinations, such as Australia, are no exceptions.

The job market is fiercely competitive and saturated. Despite numerous job listings on platforms like Jora, Gumtree, Seek, LinkedIn, and Indeed, the preference nowadays is primarily for full-time work force. Consequently, students generally find themselves with limited options, often taking a minimum of three to four months to land their first job, with exceptions being rare. The delay in securing part-time employment often leads to feelings of depression.

Subsequently, individuals must contend with fortnightly rent payments, tuition fee and everyday expenses. Living in metropolitan areas like Sydney comes with a hefty price tag, involving high rents and expensive groceries. Therefore, newcomers should ideally have substantial savings to cover these costs for the initial two to three months.

Furthermore, as beginners, students are typically relegated to odd jobs, such as restaurant work, petrol station attendants, department store clerks, or warehouse operators. It is essential to underscore that this shift may be challenging for those who are accustomed to a more comfortable lifestyle in Pakistan. Hence, those planning to move abroad should prepare themselves for these types of positions. While opportunities within one’s field are attainable, they inevitably require time and perseverance.

The intention behind sharing the scenario is not to discourage individuals who aspire to study abroad, but to provide them with a realistic understanding of the challenges they will most likely encounter, enabling them to approach their journey realistically with due preparedness.

In Pakistan, the image often portrayed is enticing, with the promise of an almost immediate financial success upon arrival in a foreign land. While success is certainly attainable, it typically requires time.

Shehwar Zahra
Sydney, Australia

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

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