Being a Bangladeshi, it is never easy to be away from your dear ones. The reason is very simple -- from infancy to adulthood, our parents have always been our shelter. From an adviser, well-wisher, friend, dictator, manager, supporter- name it and they have been it all.
Living all alone in anyone's first work stint may finally be a dream comes true for many who have been craving for independence all their lives. "The entire experience comes to you in phases. First, you'll love the freedom- the lack of oversight, the independence, and the ability to do your will," said Taposh Ghosh, management trainee at bKash Limited. Furthermore, Souvik Sarker, assistant director at Bangladesh Bank, stated,"Working outside Dhaka has both its perks and challenges. Once one is outside Dhaka, in not a metro but in suburban or rural areas, one immediately starts to feel the openness, fresh air, no traffic, less noise and by living alone on one's own, one feels like one can own the world. Lifestyle becomes more economic." This means if someone does not work in a metro city, he or she gets to enjoy nature at its best and hence gets a peaceful environment to contemplate about the present and future. But are all these enough to outweigh the emptiness people might feel by working far away from their families?
Zaheen Bin Mahmood, territory officer at British American Tobacco Bangladesh, relieved his experience by saying, "Finding a good place to stay is often difficult. You may not find the right place for your own taste." One of the common issues that many state that being a bachelor makes it extremely difficult to find a proper place to reside since landlords prefer families as their tenants. The reason behind this is that the landlords perceive families to be more responsible compared to a bachelor who has just started to take responsibilities.
Furthermore, language is a huge barrier when one lives alone outside Dhaka. Zaheen added, "Language can be a problem in cases of local dialects of Sylhet, Chattogram, etc. If you are from Dhaka, you will need to get used to the language before you actually understand what the other person is saying."
Besides issues with residence and adaptation to the dialect, eating proper meals three times a day is a challenge. Mustafid Raiyan Khan, global graduate-marketing at British American Tobacco Bangladesh, expressed, "The main challenge of working away from home is getting used to a completely new meal plan. You either eat terribly or too much, and if the work pressure is too much, you almost never find the right balance." Many people have remarked that often times food outside is unhygienic which can lead to the development of several health diseases. Moreover, they have mentioned that if one can cooks, this gives an added benefit to maintaining proper health. However, if people do not have the time or do not know how to cook, they usually hire a maid for cooking who still does not implement appropriate hygiene codes while preparing meals.
In addition to all these, discovering the right work-life balance is almost too impossible. "You tend to have more and less time simultaneously. You have more time when you are out of work as there are no homely matters to tend to, and you have less time as you will see that you are working longer hours than ever before, justified by the need to plug the gaps left by not being with family," claimed Sameen Alam, management trainee-finance at Unilever Bangladesh Limited.
A lot of employees who have worked outside Dhaka have revealed that if someone has a passion or hobby-such as reading books, watching movies in theatres, or singing-- it is exceedingly difficult to pursue them in free time because people fail to grip the right balance of work and life. Moreover, Souvik Sarkar added, "Security is a major issue. There is no one to help you if there is a theft maybe."
Keeping aside all the negatives, living all alone does get employees to understand independence, acquire responsibilities and tackle them. Taposh Ghosh further added, "Convolutions will appear as to what you're trying to achieve here. Trust me, you will learn lot- things you will never learn in an air-conditioned office, but you will still be unsure and confused."
Till now, it has been observed how employees struggle to juggle their personal aspects of life. But the factor that dictates the arousal of all these issues seem to be different according to Orvil Afnan Yeraz, a graduate of Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He mentioned, "To me the decisive factor was the influence of the workplace. Everyone knows the pros and cons of living alone, and knows how to cope with that if the individual wants to for the sake of his or her goals or career. But if the organisational culture or workload becomes toxic, people go on to opt out for alternatives."
Living alone has its own share of ups and downs. However, in Bangladesh, where everyone is sort of raised in a cocoon by parents, it is difficult to suddenly get accommodated to the independent life. Sameen Alam has beautifully put the entire experience in words, "Honestly, it makes you value the kind of life you have in Dhaka where you have all the comforts of a city and the company of your friends, and most importantly, the reassurance of going to sleep in your own bed."
The writer is a second year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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