When I landed in the U.S. in July last year, I felt lost. Nervous and with many questions to ask, I attended the orientation programme organised for the international students a week later.What fascinated me at the University of Central Florida was that students could choose and pick their courses. Psychology to physics, biology to business, civil to chemistry — one had the freedom to choose their subjects without any restrictions whatsoever.

I opted for three core courses from Electrical Engineering department. I had three international professors, and for the first few days everything seemed Greek and Latin. After a couple of weeks, things started falling in place. I started finishing my assignment before deadlines and gave my best for quizzes and tests. At the end of the semester, I understood that it is not just hard work that matters in the U.S. but smart work. This realisation resulted in me getting top grades during the Fall semester.

Day-to-day life in the U.S. is less complex. Right from learners' driving licence tests to car registration everything can be done online, making life hassle-free. I did online banking, social security documentation, tax return papers, credit card application, bill payment , buying clothes and shoes — these were things that took a lot of time and effort when I was in India and were so simple when in the U.S.

Being a vegetarian, I felt I just had a handful of options to eat outside my home. Few days of staying in the U.S., introduced me to various cuisines from different parts of the world. I learnt to find the vegetarian options and ask questions about what was being served in a restaurant. Soon I developed a taste for the different cuisines and I am completely comfortable eating outside now. Before I knew, I was managing home chores, studies and having fun with friends very well. I charted time for everything, with so many things to do, lot of technology in day-to-day life and very little external authority from parents, it's easy to lose track here. I learnt that the key to being focused is planning ahead and sticking to the plan.

I owe a lot to my professors of the engineering college I studied in Chennai and my teachers at the school who gave me a solid foundation in academics. Even though I have learnt the new ways of living and adapted well to the life in the U.S., I miss India.

Graduate Student, University of Central Florida

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