The hospitality of the Indian community at the University of Massachusetts made it easy for JANANI VISWANATHAN to fit in.

I came here in the fall of 2012 to pursue a master’s in Biological Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. I was at ease because of the wonderful Indian student community here. The tradition of helping new students from the time they land by picking them up from the airport, helping them find a permanent place to stay, and selecting courses is coordinated — the Indian Student Association.

The class structure and examination pattern was new and made me apprehensive. Writing pages elaborately does not help. As my professor put it “Brevity is the soul”! All that the graders need to know is whether they have understood the concept or not. And nobody is judged by the scores or grades they get. All students are treated the same and all that is expected of them is the enthusiasm to learn and absolute honesty in all the work they do. Professional Science Masters is a combination of Masters and management studies which focuses on having more management professionals with subject knowledge in the industry.

I was the first student who had opted for this stream (Biosafety) in my university. I had chosen the same because of my specific interests in the field. My graduate coordinator was kind enough to introduce me to professionals working in the field who I could direct my questions to.

It showed me how the professors were concerned about each of their students. It is an upcoming field and I would recommend it to any interested student to pursue the same.

For aspiring students

Indian festivals are celebrated with pride by all the students here. I got involved in the music band and performed in some of the events. If you have talent, make sure you pursue it.

Our university has a Campus Recreation Centre (CRC) which encourages all students to keep themselves fit by organising activities such as zumba, yoga, kickboxing, salsa, swimming, and the like.

I would recommend any student coming here to check out the CRC and learn something new. Make sure you go for trips organised for international students and explore the country. Make sure you participate in at least a couple of activities with fellow students. Don’t restrict yourself to your own community. That’s not what you have come all the way for. Make new friends, explore new cuisines and learn about new cultures!

The writer is pursuing her master’s in biological sciences, University of Massachusetts.