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Surviving change and challenges

Life lessons from the diary of an Indian student in America

This was around the time in August 2016 that my journey to the United States to pursue higher studies started. It is hard to believe that one year is done. I left the comfort of home for the first time with a heavy heart to the land of dreams, America.

The initial culture shock and newness all around shook me quite a lot. The fact that one has to be fiercely independent in this country was hard to get accustomed to. Unlike in India there are no housemaids, drivers, milk man and so on here. You are yourself the student /housemaid/driver/cook. The tasks I used to take for granted at home now became a routine way of life.

For the first four months I could barely survive all the change around me. I had my share of difficulties in adjusting to life here, coupled with the pressure of studies. My first thoughts were, why did I come to this country? I so wanted to pack my bags and go back. My dad back home was my pillar of support. Day in and day out he patiently tried to explain things to me hoping that I would become strong with time. My sister called me every single day to make sure I was doing fine. My mom was there to lend a patient hearing to my woes. My professor back home also supported me during those times by telling me to hang in there and gave me the confidence that all this is just a passing phase. It took me quite some time to realise that everything in this world is transient. Neither our happiness nor our sorrows would last long. Change is inevitable in life.

When I cooked by myself for the first time I failed miserably. I felt terrible but there was no one to help me out. I had to rectify my mistakes and start all over again. The second time was not that bad. From being a zero at cooking I can now make a decent meal. I was a real introvert, maybe still I am one. I would always be hesitant to talk with a stranger, but these days I find it easier to strike a conversation with someone whom I do not know very well. This has helped me make friends from other countries and cultures. After talking with them I figured that everybody around us is fighting their own battle. The least we can do is be kind to them. The one thing I really appreciate about this country is that everybody greets you with a smile or a ‘hi’ at school and at work. Your start to the day is good when people smile and ask you a word or two as to how you are doing.

Living with room-mates has its own share of challenges and they can give you memorable times as well as not-so-good times. Since I was a day scholar throughout my under-graduation I lived comfortably at home in my room. Now I share a room with a girl. Even if you are nice with others, do not expect others to be nice with you. That was lesson number one. Another thing is that nobody will put themselves in your shoes and try to understand your perspective. That’s how life works. I think the philosopher in me has awakened after one year in the U.S.!

As a student here, luxurious living is secondary, our budget is primary. Student apartments being small, space constraint was a major issue initially. With time I have come to the conclusion that minimalistic living actually helps you to de-clutter your life. We just need essential items to live a peaceful life. Materialistic living being the order of the day does not help much.

I understood that no amount of education can substitute for life lessons given by people around us, be it friends, family or well-wishers. People have taught me much more than my one year of Master’s here. There is something to learn from every person you meet. America has certainly changed me for the good in some ways. But I still think that I have a long way to go in becoming more resilient.

deepthimohan15@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 6:38:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/surviving-change-and-challenges/article19523752.ece

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