Education: When most of the Bhutanese students are going abroad for higher studies, a young lad from Afghanistan, Rahmatullah Ahsani, has come to Bhutan to study.

Rahmatullah Ahsani was 20 when he first reached Bhutan. It was in 2012. He was to spend three years at Gaeddu College of Business Studies studying Bachelors of Commerce.

The winding roads, richly-forested land and rice with emadatsi were the biggest cultural shocks for Rahmatullah Ahsani, to say nothing about the curious weather in Gedu.

Rahmatullah Ahsani is the first recipient of SAARC Chair, Fellowship and Scholarship Scheme to come to Bhutan to study. He is also the only Afghan student to study at the college.

“Being the only international student here at the college, I can say that I got some special treatment from my friends and it helped me build a lasting friendship with all of them,” said Rahmatullah Ahsani.

For the first two semesters was a difficult experience for Rahmatullah Ahsani. He missed his home. His home is nothing like where he ended up for academic journey.

Rahmatullah Ahsani missed the soft Naan breads and spicy curries most of all.

“But very soon these aching feeling faded. Getting to meet new Bhutanese friends gave me a strange happiness. They are all very warm and kind,” said Rahmatullah Ahsani. Bhutanese food was no longer a problem. Now he can eat rice three times a day like all his Bhutanese friends.

It is third year for Rahmatullah Ahsani in Bhutan. He can speak some spattering Dzongkha.

“The language was the biggest hindrance. But I am lucky to have been able to come to a country where everyone can speak really good English,” he said. “I will miss the good-natured people of this country very dearly when I go back home after I graduate. After spending three years in one place, one grows an attachment to it. So I will be taking all the good memories with me.”

Rahmatullah pauses for a while and smiles a genuine smile. He warns international students who are planning to come to Bhutan to study about some cultural socks that they will face.

“Despite differences, soon anyone will come to love this place and people who are always ready to take you as one of their own. Bhutan has lots to share to the world,” said Rahmatullah Ahsani.

“I have only been to Phuentsholing, Paro and Thimphu so far. And if I ever get a chance to return to Bhutan, I am planning to explore other places as well,” said Rahmatullah Ahsani.

But now, time has come for Rahmatullah Ahsani to leave Bhutan. He has just a few days to enjoy the scenic beauty and pristine air and warm hospitality of the Bhutanese people.

Officials from the Department of Adult and Higher Education congratulated Rahmatullah Ahsani on completing his course and wished him good luck in the future.

With a shy smile, Rahmatullah Ahsani thanked them.

Thinley Zangmo