Do you know where Scotland is? It is part of the United Kingdom and it is north of England. If you travel north from the continent of Europe, first comes England, then comes Scotland. You can see it on the map. London is the capital of England, Cardiff is the capital of Wales, and Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.
I live and study in a town called Aberdeen. That is in the north of Scotland. So I am very far in the north.
It takes 5 hours to travel by train from London to Edinburgh. Then it takes another 2 1/2 hours to travel from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. That is about 7 hours, the same time that a bus takes to go from Kathmandu to Balu Suara, but the train is much faster and the distance is much greater.
One can also travel by coach (= bus) from London to Aberdeen. The coach journey takes much longer. It takes 12 hours directly from London to Aberdeen.
Because Aberdeen is so much closer to the North Pole than London, it stays light in Aberdeen much longer than in London, or even in Edinburgh. In summer, e.g. in August, in Aberdeen it is still light at 11 p.m. (23 hours). That is amazing. In winter, of course, it gets dark much earlier.
Look how much bigger these ships are than the cars, or even than the houses behind them.
Aberdeen has a big port and is used as the mainland base for many oil drilling platforms in the North Sea. The drilling platforms are used to drill for oil underneath the water. The people who work on them also sleep there. On their day of rest, they will come ashore in Aberdeen. They will also get all their supplies (e.g. food and tools) from Aberdeen. Because of the oil industry, Aberdeen is a rich and busy city.
Scottish men have a traditional national dress which is called “a kilt”. They wear it only on ceremonial occasions. It looks like a women’s skirt. But it is intended for men. There is nothing funny about it. It is just a tradition, of Scotland, but not of England. Scotland and England are different, just as India and Nepal are different. The Scots also have a special musical instrument which is called a “bag pipe”. In the picture you see a Scotsman wearing a kilt and playing a bag pipe.
You may think I am Scottish. But why do I call you “Brothers and Sisters”? Scottish people do that only in their own family? What do you think?
I come from Takukot
I call you Brothers and Sisters because I am one of you. I was born in Takukot, I grew up in Takukot, I played in Takukot, I was naughty in Takukot, I was good in Takukot, I went to school in Takukot (in Shree Surya Jyoti Secondary School in Palkhu from Class 1 to Class 8), and I love Takukot.
I am Suraj Paneru. Tell your older brothers and sisters. Some of them may be my friends.
After Class 8, I moved to Kathmandu and studied at Nepal Rashriya Higher Secondary School, Nepaltar, Kathmandu, till class 12.
Then it was time to go to university to get a degree. I went to Chitwan.
At Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu) I studied English Literature and Sociology.
The joys of English literature:
English Literature is wonderful. There are so many great stories written in English. They are just as good, or even better, than the stories you see on television. If you all work terribly hard to learn as much English as possible, your English should one day be good enough to read these stories in English (novels and short stories). They are very thrilling and entertaining. You do not have to go university to read them.
But to understand them you have to know English well and know many English words. There is a plan to send such books (English novels and short stories) to your school or to the village library in Palkhu so that you can borrow them when your English is good enough. You will have a lot of fun with them, and you will never be bored again as long as you live.
At the beginning, learning English is hard work, but if you persist (like all Gorkha people do), then, when you know the language well, it will be a lot of fun, for all of you.
Of course, there are also many wonderful books written in Nepali. You must have the ambition to be educated in both. Read Nepali books because they are about our own country of which we all are so proud. Read English books because English is the language which everybody in the world understands. You want to be at home and comfortable both in Nepal and in the world.
Back to my studies:
When I had got my B.A. degree (B.A. = Bachelor of Arts) from Shaheed Smriti Multiple Campus, Chitwan, I managed to get a place in a Scottish University, in Aberdeen, where I am now.
Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
This building is part of my university (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen).
I studied there for two years, and now I have passed my final exams for the M.Sc. (Master of Science) degree in xxx subject.
Here I am enjoying the Scottish countryside. Scotland is beautiful and has many hills and mountains, but they are not as high as ours in Nepal
with graduation gown and mortar board
Look at my picture here in my academic gown (graduation gown) and the mortar board (academic head covering) on my head. This indicates that I have received my university degree.
I am so happy to have achieved that, after so many years of study. But as you can see, it is possible. Just work hard and never give up. You are as clever as everybody else in the world.
Some of you may be poor. But that does not mean that you can not study and succeed. You are as good as everybody else. So keep working and studying, as I did.
There is an English proverb: “God helps those who help themselves”. So do work hard, and Ishvara and Saraswati and Laksmi Devi will help you in your life.
I know that you are having your exams right now. My heart is with you, and I hope you all will do well, so that you can be happy, and your parents and teachers can be proud of you.
Let me think back a little about my career so far, even though I am still really at the beginning of my adult life.
I am so grateful to the school where I learnt the first letters of the alphabet. The school where I started doing athletics. All the knowledge I have today is possible only because of the school where I learnt to count, to add, to subtract, to multiply and to divide.
I am so grateful to my parents who made me go to one school after another and to the teachers who taught me there.
Whenever I make a plan I remember the school that lies at the top of the hill, the school that plays hide and seek with Mount Manasalu in the clouds.
Shree Jyoti Surya Secondary School, Palkhu