Explore - Experience - Excel

Unlocking Global Horizons through Early 20th Century Travelogue – Dr. Sushyni Kothuri

22 Dec 2023

The very first novel that I read was a Telugu Novel, Barrister Parvateesam written by Mokkapati Narasimha Sastry. The novel is about a young boy who runs away from West Godavari to pursue his studies in the ‘West’. The classic provides readers with delightful humor, satire and unfolds the experiences on his quest to become a barrister in England. As a visual reader, I imagined myself travelling with him to explore the cultural differences and experience the language barriers. The protagonist’s observations, comic encounters and self-discovery journey in the bustling streets of London made me realize how difficult it is to make one’s dream come true. Most importantly how difficult it was to go abroad in the early years.

In the annals of history, going abroad has evolved from a formidable expedition to a seamlessly integrated part of modern life. Centuries ago, embarking on a journey to foreign lands was a courageous endeavour that demanded grit and determination. Travellers faced the challenges of lengthy sea voyages or perilous land routes, enduring weeks or even months to reach their destination. Exploration often meant stepping into the unknown, with limited maps and navigation tools. The sea voyage of Parvateesam played a significant role and I felt it was the transformative phase in his life. Parveetsam boards a ship, leaving behind his family. Onboard the ship, he interacts with a diverse group of co-passengers, each representing different cultures and backgrounds. He faces the physical challenges of sea travel, including seasickness and adapting to the confined spaces of the ship. The solitude of the sea journey provides him with moments of reflection, contributing to his personal growth and self-discovery. This sea journey serves as a prelude to Parvateesam’s arrival in England, setting the stage for further cultural exploration and challenges in a foreign land. According to the education ministry, the number of students going abroad has drastically increased in the year 2022, and also I experienced many of my students going for higher studies abroad. Though they were excited to see new land and ready to begin a new phase in their lives, the physical and emotional toll of the journey and fear of facing the uncertainties in the new land were explicit.

In “Barrister Parvateesam,” the motivation for going abroad was often linked to educational and career aspirations. Parvateesam’s journey was driven by the desire to become a barrister and gain exposure to Western education. Now, while education and career opportunities remain major motivators, contemporary reasons also include global exposure, diverse cultural experiences, and increased mobility for reasons beyond academics or work, such as travel, exploration, and personal development. Communication during those times was a slow dance of written letters carried by messengers or exchanged through diplomatic channels. The separation from loved ones was profound, and updates on the journey’s progress were scarce. The cultural exchange was profound but relatively exclusive, confined to the few intrepid souls who dared to traverse the vast expanses of the world.

Parvateesam’s journey to study abroad was a rare opportunity, accessible to only a few individuals due to financial and logistical challenges. Studying abroad has become more accessible with a variety of scholarships, exchange programs, and technological advancements facilitating the application process.

During Parvateesam’s time, the challenges included language barriers, cultural shock, and limited communication and transportation infrastructure. International travel was a lengthy and arduous process. Fast forward to the present, where the once formidable journey has been condensed into a matter of hours. Aeroplanes have transformed the concept of distance, rendering continents just a flight away. Technological advancements have woven a web of connectivity, allowing individuals to traverse borders with ease and stay in constant touch with their roots. However, new challenges like visa complexities and security concerns have emerged.

Communication, once reliant on handwritten letters, has transformed into instant messaging, video calls, and social media updates. The once-exclusive exchange of cultures has become a dynamic and continuous process, shaping a global society where diversity is celebrated and understanding transcends geographical boundaries. In the olden days, the act of going abroad often meant stepping into an unfamiliar world, marked by cultural shock and isolation. Today, the global integration of societies has fostered a more interconnected world. Travellers are no longer mere observers but active participants in cross-cultural dialogue, enriching their experiences and broadening their perspectives. While the challenges of travel persist, they have taken on new forms. In the past, physical endurance and survival skills were paramount; today, navigating bureaucratic processes and adapting to diverse customs are essential skills. Security concerns have also evolved, reflecting the changing geopolitical landscape and the complex interplay of global forces.

In comparing the experience of going abroad in the past and present, it becomes evident that the tapestry of human exploration is woven through time. From the arduous odysseys of yesteryear to the seamless global connectivity of today, the essence of travel remains a testament to humanity’s insatiable curiosity and our ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.

The novel illustrates Parvateesam’s resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. Despite numerous setbacks, he persists in pursuing his goal of becoming a barrister, showcasing the importance of determination for survival.  Lastly, Parvateesam develops problem-solving skills as he encounters various obstacles. From bureaucratic challenges to personal dilemmas, he learns to analyze situations and find practical solutions to move forward. In essence, “Barrister Parvateesam” provides a narrative that underscores the acquisition of survival skills in the context of international travel and cultural adaptation. Parvateesam’s journey becomes a learning experience, shaping him into a more resilient and adaptable individual.

Beyond academic achievements, Parvateesam’s journey fostered personal growth, cultural awareness, and a global mindset. Throughout the novel, Parvateesam exhibits resourcefulness in coping with unfamiliar situations. Whether dealing with language barriers, financial constraints, or cultural differences, he learns to make the most of available resources to overcome challenges. The skills and connections we gain during our time abroad continue to shape our academic and professional success, highlighting the profound and lasting impact of a well-planned study abroad program.

The best thing I remember about Parvateesam is that he did not limit himself to his own country people. He mingled with Natives and it helped him to transform better. This particular act of engaging with native speakers is essential for a more enriching and immersive learning journey. Regular conversations with native speakers enhance language proficiency, allowing students to practice what they’ve learned. Engaging with locals provides insight into the culture, traditions and customs of the host country, fostering a deep appreciation for diversity. It also helps in networking. Building connections with native speakers can lead to valuable friendships, opening doors to a broader social circle and potentially enriching the overall study abroad experience. Applying language skills in authentic contexts helps students understand nuances and colloquial expressions, making their language learning more practical and applicable. Regular communication with native speakers boosts students’ confidence in using the language, breaking down barriers and facilitating smoother integration into the local community.

Studying abroad is not just an academic venture; it’s a journey of self-discovery and personal enrichment. As students navigate the unfamiliar terrain of a foreign education system, they not only acquire knowledge but also develop skills and perspectives that set them apart in an interconnected world. The decision to study abroad is an investment in both education and personal development, unlocking a world of possibilities for those who dare to explore beyond their comfort zone.

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