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The Long Way Back to School

After almost 18-month hiatus Bhutanese students studying in India eagerly await to return back to their colleges.

By Tshering Dema

The wait has been pretty long and arduous. Even after a year and a half of remaining idle, around 5000 Bhutanese students who are studying in various colleges in India are still waiting to return back to their colleges.

The recent second vaccination program has also given students a renewed hope that things will normalize and that their colleges in India will reopen soon.

While most students, during this long pause, had opted to engage themselves with other activities like joining the Desuup, many are still languishing in their homes hoping that the day to return back to their colleges will come soon.

Dechen Pem who is pursuing her studies in Lovely Professional University, Punjab said when the covid-19 started she was in her fourth semester but had to return back home as India announced lockdown.

After coming back to Bhutan, Dechen the De-suup fraternity after undergoing training for a month. However, she had to make various arrangements as she had to regularly attend her online classes too.

While she found the task to perform her duties challenging, the thought to keep herself engaged given the long break from college, and given the worsening pandemic situation in India, kept her going.

Now that she is done with her semesters, Dechen wants to go back to college for her convocation ceremony which she says is an essential part of their college days.

Further, she says she can’t wait for the pandemic to end so that she can go back to experience her convocation and meet her beloved lecturers who have immensely contributed in making her college days much easier and joyful. She especially misses her international friends with whom she has lots of memories.

Another student from lovely professional university, Tika Ram who is pursing Civil Engineering and in his final year now, states that he got a notification from the university stating that they all need to come back to the college for their final year.

He said that their college has notified all international students to be fully vaccinated prior to joining their college. Tika said that there are still around 20 Bhutanese including him who are still in their college and most of them had got only their first doses.

Thuji Wangda a student of Subharti University, Uttar Pradesh said that there are around 40 Bhutanese studying in the same college and most of them had received only their first vaccine doses.

Tika said despite the recent outbreaks in India they are doing fine and that things are slowing beginning to come back to normalcy in their college. 

Sangay Tenzin a student of ICFAI University, Sikkim said he returned back to college after things improved. He said the locals there have been very helpful and even cared for him when he fell sick about a month ago.

He said the situation there has also improved and the Sikkim state government is taking good measures to contain the spread.

With more than a thousand Bhutanese students presently enrolled, Lovely Professional University in Punjab has the most number of Bhutanese students studying under a single umbrella in India.

Starting from July last year most students studying in India have been taking online classes. However, with the second dose of vaccine administered everyone is now hoping that they will be able to go back to college and resume their classes.

While around 100 Bhutanese students still at LPU, the vast majority of them are still struck in the country and hoping for the situation to normalize.

It is said that students travelling to India will now require vaccine certificates and an negative RT-PCR test result to get entry to their respective colleges.

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