Before I was in Bhaktivedanta College, I had been working full time, then studying full time and then traveling full time to help in various projects for ISKCON. After all this, I decided that I wanted something professional in the academic field. I was hopeful that this could be either directly or indirectly conducive to an active spiritual life. I am pretty sure, looking back, that the course at the Bhaktivedanta College was probably the best choice I could have made. I don’t know any other place where you can gain such levels of academic training, within the English language, related to the Vaisnava tradition.
Many professors who teach at Bhaktivedanta College are affiliated with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and are also practicing members of ISKCON. The college provides students a very supportive environment, with the finest quality of education. Once students have completed a module in the curriculum, they are often asked to write an academic paper or give a standing presentation. These assignments equip students with skills so that when they have their degree they can present anything they studied, in written or verbal form. Their theoretical knowledge is outwardly applicable.
I think the greatest challenge for me was being so far from home. I had to make some of the biggest decisions in my life, and most of them had to be made in Belgium, thousands of kilometres from my native Australia. But it gave me great strength in resolve, and now I will be leaving Belgium as a more complete human being, and with a degree in Vaishnava Theology, accredited by a top university in the UK. I’ll be going back to be closer to my family and to enroll in a diploma course in education. With the additional degree, in combination with my Bachelor’s from Bhaktivedanta College, I will be accredited to teach Humanities in any Australian school. I also hope to continue studies to a doctorate level. Soon Bhaktivedanta College hopes to start a Master’s program, and I’m really excited about the idea of coming back to try it out, or do it online. In the meantime I have a couple offers to teach within ISKCON as a career or assist in establishing a college in my local ISKCON community. Regardless of where I end up, Bhaktivedanta College gave me “real world” credentials, because it fostered external qualifications with internal quality.