It is hard to be so far from home, especially as most other students here can readily keep in touch with their family and friends. There are a few other students from Bangladesh here along with me, and some of our classmates have started calling us “The Brain Trust” because we always seem to be studying. Maybe it is easier for us because we have less distractions, or maybe it is because there is a greater importance to our success here than just landing a good job when we graduate. But what is not easier for us is communicating with our families. I write letters to my family and by the time I receive one back, the information can be weeks old. We get to talk to each other on the phone once a month—it is too expensive to do more often, and the time difference also makes it a challenge. One of the other students has broadband at his home, and he emails with his family. My parents sometimes go to internet cafes to email with me but they do not get to go often enough. I may send them a message to ask a question but by the time they reply I could have just written it in a letter. Also, what we consider broadband back home is a very slow moving pace here, and it can be less frustrating to mail a letter. It is difficult or impossible to use VoIP or videochat, something that people here can do on mobiles. There have been times, too, where sites have been blocked for supposed “national safety” reasons, and it is usually social media sites that are blocked.
I will be able to go home for the summer but not any of the shorter breaks that we get here. I stay at the school and work instead, as do the other members of “The Brain Trust.” This is not such a bad thing, as I have more access to some of the faculty and staff and they seem more than willing to help me learn the things I want to know. I also spend a lot of time in the computer lab here, just figuring out how to use computers faster and increase my typing speed. I like to try searching for things with various search engines, learning which strings of words are most efficient to get me relevant results, and which search engines give the most relevant results. With the money I earn over the next break, I should have enough saved to buy myself a laptop computer and I am very excited. My roommate explained that I could buy one on credit but I was afraid to—if I don’t do well in school and have to go back, it would be difficult to keep sending money here to pay my bill. So I will wait and use the computers in the lab until then. Besides, most students have their own personal computer so it is not like the lab is crowded. Usually it is like a small gathering of countries there and it feels a bit like home now.