Even before graduating from the University of Minnesota, Pavithra Ramakrishnan had blossomed into a confident young professional with a job offer on hand.

Right after finishing my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, I packed my bags and left for the land of dreams and opportunities — the United States of America.

I went there to pursue my Master’s at the University of Minnesota. Located in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, on the banks of the river Mississippi, it is one of the largest public universities in the U.S.

The university, renowned for its research in engineering sciences, has a rich lingual, cultural and racial diversity. I landed in Minneapolis in August 2011; the initial few weeks were filled with excitement of new environement, new people, setting up my own apartment and so on.

The biggest challenge I faced was understanding the accent of professors from different nationalities. For all those aspiring to do masters abroad, please learn to cook: salty burnt potatoes are not as tasty as you would want them to be.

The classroom ambience was alien to me. Learning was more by interaction with the professors. Within a few weeks, assignments, paper presentations and projects were showered on us.

Over there, it was the approach to answers that students give that was important. The students have access to state-of-the-art labs and high-precision software, the ones normally available only to the industry.

Campus life

In the short time that was available after academic work, we enjoyed walking through the vast expanses of the well-maintained campus. The university buildings built in the 19th Century stood parallel to the modern artistic architectural establishments, beautifying the campus in a surreal way.

Minneapolis happens to be home to the largest mall in the United States — Mall of America — a major attraction for the locals. The biggest concern that most of us have when we plan our master’s abroad is the cost factor.

I took up various campus jobs to earn that extra buck. I worked as a barista in a café and as a research assistant in a business school. Universities here do not have the concept of campus placement.

Job fairs are arranged and students get to interact with the representatives from the industry. Studying abroad has made me bold, observant and more interactive with people from various walks of life. I learnt the science of society more than electrical engineering. All these landed me an internship in Intel Corporation, where I got absorbed as a full-time employee. I will be joining them once I graduate.

The writer is pursuing her Master’s in Electrical engineering at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.