This part 2 of Praveen Krishnan’s interview.
In Part 1 he spoke about studying in the USA after working in India and about his student experience at University of Texas at Tyler.
In Part 2, you can learn about how he learned to cook, his life in USA as a vegetarian, how living in the U.S. for the last 3 months has changed his personality and other interesting topics.
Summary of the video:
- Cooking lessons and surviving as a vegetarian
- Adjusting to new country, roommates, new life
- Daily schedule including classes
- Student life – bank accounts, grocery shopping, campus life
- Personality changes after living in the U.S.
- Being independent yet staying in touch with family in India
- Trip to Houston, Texas – Catching up with old friends
Praveen started working after B.E. in Mechanical Engineering in India. Then he was faced with this question : Study in USA or Job in India?
To know why he decided to first work in India and then study in the U.S., WATCH Part 1 of this Video.
Here is the Transcript of this Interview:
Madhu: Can you brief us about your cooking experience, like did you know cooking before? I’m sure you don’t [laughter]. So how was your cooking experience, like exploring cooking?
Praveen: It was new. It was new. Back home… When I came back, when I was working, I was staying with my parents, so yes, I had a really good time there with food. I’d never realize the complications involved in the kitchen. It’s management there alone. Yes, cooking was difficult for me. I started off with rice, eating stuff like rice, upma, usually little more salads. We even go to the very high fighting of making rupees and all.
Madhu: You’re just new to the US, so slowly you’re going to learn hopefully.
Praveen: We eat basic stuff: rice, dhal. I’m a vegetarian, so I eat basically rice, dhal, [wansapchi 00:00:57], [dikurt 00:00:59], bread, toast. [sidils 00:01:03] milk. That’s all I’m going through here.
Madhu: Okay. Tell me what’s a typical day when you have class. How will your typical day be when you have class?
Praveen: My typical Monday would be I’d wake up in the morning and usually have a presentational assignment to submit. If I have some pending work or if I have to do some preparation, I have breakfast. I get ready. I head off to the library. Prep. Go to the class. Meet the stuff, then they’ll give me more tasks and more challenges to look into. So I’ll come back, have lunch, and go back again. If I have lunch, that means it’s my turn to do the dishes, so I do the dishes. Then I go back. I go back to college and come back in the night. Then I’ll make another something. It goes like that.
Maximum… I try to utilize my time in the campus, and I would advise everyone to do that because sitting at home is really bad.
Madhu: Even if you guys don’t have class, still you’re going to spend more time in the campus, like doing your assignments or …
Praveen: It’s not desk studies. We have [unintelligible]. Sometimes they organize events for… The last, for volunteers. So we go there and we get to meet new people and see new things. Those are recent robotic competitions. They needed volunteers even this one.
Madhu: Does volunteering mean free food?
Praveen: Yes [laughter].
Madhu: [Laughter] Okay. So how was your spring break because I can see that you’re right now in your spring break? So how was your break, and what did you do in your spring break?
Praveen: I went to Houston and met a few friends there. There were like high school friends that were here in Houston, and I just met them. It is good catching up.
Madhu: Okay. How did you travel to Houston?
Praveen: Since I don’t know driving, Houston by road is about four hours drive, and I don’t drive. Then my next thing was the bus, Greyhound, but they are like seven hours. And I got a good flight ticket. It’s like $30 more than the bus one, so I took it.
Madhu: That’s one way? One way $30?
Madhu: Two way?
Praveen: It’s like the bus charges about $51, so it is about $102 to and fro, and I got a ticket for $130 to and fro. I took it.
Madhu: Great. Did you spend like a week in Houston?
Madhu: What did you do in Houston?
Praveen: We basically talked. We went to the plant restaurants. I’m a foodie, so I like trying new things, tasting things. We went to malls and other local places. They really took me around. We saw a few movies, came back.
Madhu: Are you friends also doing their master’s there?
Praveen: Yes, they are.
Madhu: Since you are very new to US, it’s been only three months you’re here, how was it easy? How easy was it to adjust with your surroundings?
Praveen: By God’s grace, I was put in the right environment, because the moment I came here, the moment anyone comes here, you stand out the airport. You’re just expecting someone to show you things. The system is new. Everything’s new. The Indian Students Association there sent a senior to pick me up, and then they gave me temporary accommodation, and then they told me how to start, what are my options, where could I stay. And then I took an apartment. I found people here. We joined together, and it’s good. It’s good. That’s a good experience, learning curve. Start a bank account, that’s the first thing you do after coming here: start a bank account.
Madhu: Praveen, will you recommend University of Texas at Tyler to your friends, and for what reason would you do it?
Praveen: I would strongly recommend the University of Texas at Tyler to my friends and other students, mechanical engineering students because the courses offered here are not just restricted to oil and gas, even though that was my reason. The courses here are pretty wide. They have finite element analysis. They have stress strain analysis, energy management, solar energy. Lots of courses are offered. The courses which students are usually interested in, you could find it here. Plus, there are fundings in the department, and there is huge scope for graduate students in here.
Madhu: How have your personality changed since three months, even though the sharp period, like how have you changed in your personality and also your academic aspect, like what was the change you see in both these aspects: personality and academics?
Praveen: Yes. As long as academics is concerned, it was a bit difficult for me in the beginning because I stopped studying for a year then I start again. But I didn’t really want that to be a factor to affect my studies, so whatever assignments or quiz they give, I give my 100%. I make sure I do my best so that I will graduate. Even though they recommend textbooks, they have the internet. They have a huge library with lots of books and resources available. There’s an online version of it, so we could just look up, look through the subjects, research into it, find the answers. It’s not easy, and that’s what I want to tell everyone. Studying in the US, even though it sounds big, it’s not easy. You got to earn it.
Madhu: Okay. [Crosstalk] what lesson did you see?
Praveen: Yes, you got to be your own man here, your own man or woman over here. You’re on your own. There’s no one to watch your back. You have to watch your own back. You have to be independent. That’s the word: independent. So I’m more independent right now, so I don’t think… If I need to do something, I wouldn’t need to rely on other people. I could get it done. Be it laundry, cooking, if I need to go from point A to point B, go to other places, I know the things now. But it’ll take a month to get adjusted to the system. At first, I didn’t know what a dime was, what a quarter was.
Madhu: You do what? Like dollar what? Like 50, or rupee? [Crosstalk laughter].
Praveen: I still have that fees. It’s horrible [laughter].
Madhu: [Laughter] Okay.
Praveen: I also advise students, when they’re here initially, try to keep in touch with your folks back home, keep in contact, keep in constant contact. If you’re feeling down, call them, Skype them, email them, so that you won’t feel homesick. It shouldn’t let you down.
Madhu: Praveen, how much do you miss your parents in India?
Praveen: I do miss them, but it’s time to grow up. I do keep in constant contact with them. I keep calling them. If I’m feeling down, I keep calling them. If my grades go down, I’m like, “Mom, my grades went down.” If I get a good grade, “I got a good grade!” I cook, so if I have doubts in the kitchen when I cook, I do that. If I have to spend a little bit of my money, I call my dad. I’m like, “Dad, should I do this?” I ask for advice. I still do ask for advice.
Madhu: Okay, okay. Are your parents supportive in your decision when you told them that you want to pursue your master’s in the US? How supportive are your parents?
Praveen: They are very supportive because… They’re happy because they knew that the education system here is the best. Other than the educational system, you become independent. You become someone else, someone better.
Madhu: How about your roommates? Is it easy adjusting? You told us that you were like four guys living together?
Madhu: How easy is it adjusting with them? Tell me about that later. Did you face any difficulties in the initial stages?
Praveen: Initial stages, I also was a bit concerned because I was the only vegetarian.
Madhu: Vegetarian, yes. That was my concern because it’s very tough to settle with a group of friends when you’re a vegetarian.
Praveen: I actually told them, “I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t want to make you stop eating anything.” I told them, “If you’re cooking, just don’t cook for me. Put dhal in the cooker a bit or give me a call.” There’s no problem. It’s just they let me know. I let them know. If I’m making something, I let them know. They’re really helpful. They are really helpful. They have no problems here. It’s our system.
Madhu: Okay, doing good. You found the best setup for roommates.
Praveen: Yes, I did.
Madhu: Great, great. How about grocery shopping? And how do you manage all those: your laundry and laundry shopping? Do you have time for those, especially when you have like project deadlines that are soon approaching? How do you manage those?
Praveen: You should run it along. Everything should go along because if you’re here for studies, it’s not just studies. It’s how and when you go, when you eat. How do you manage everything? We plan ahead. I do my laundry every ten days. There’s a laundry machine downstairs. It takes an hour. I keep it. I go up, then change it to dryer, go up again. As long as groceries are concerned, we take our time. We know what’s in the fridge, so who has time, the guy who gets time, he goes there. He gets the stuff then Split-My-Bill.
Madhu: How do you travel to the grocery store? Is it like a walkable distance?
Praveen: No, it’s not a walkable distance. Right now, there are lots of helpful seniors. They just call us every two or three days, once in every two or three days. Like, “Today, we’re going to Wal-Mart. You’re going to come?” Or even the university, they’re actually providing a shuttle. The office of international programs, every Friday, they offer a shuttle. It goes to Wal-Mart and back.
Madhu: Oh, nice.
Praveen: Yes, that is pretty cool. We go. We get our groceries. We come back. It’s not a big deal.
Madhu: Not a big deal, okay. How was the security in the Tyler Campus, Praveen? Do you think like you have really landed in a safe place?
Praveen: Yes, the campus has its own police department, so there’s no fooling around there. It’s under surveillance all the time. Especially for girls, they’re actually offered this system. Say you’re in the library at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, and you want to go back home, you can actually call them up, and they’ll send someone to pick you and drop you outside. They have a hotline number. If you have a problem, they’ll respond then and there. They’re pretty helpful. It’s pretty safe.
Madhu: It’s pretty safe too. Okay. I think we have covered most of the topics. Those are the questions we wanted to ask you,
Praveen. It was a really informative interview, definitely for the students and the parents who are watching this. Thank you so much for sharing your three-month experience with us. Definitely, we would like to catch you up maybe like next year or before your graduation and see how you have changed and how you have evolved from now until your graduation. Good luck with all your studies, and graduating, and with your career. Good luck with everything, Praveen.
Praveen: Thank you for giving me this opportunity, because I do follow you guys, and that’s how I ended up here. It prepared me mentally. It’s a really, really good thing to do. I’m happy that I took part of it.
Madhu: That’s really nice to hear. Thank you so much, Praveen, for spending your evening with us. Definitely, I think this interview would be very helpful to us students and readers. Thank you so much.
Praveen: Thank you.