I’m just sharing this story and many sticklers just dismissed two years of my life like it never happened.
This second edition is continuation of Part 1 – This Indian Student Talks Education, Projects, Girlfriends and Sex. Parent’s Shouldn’t Be Reading This
Okay, cool I don’t want to contend with your free speech.
Just, don’t make it personal, and accusing Raghu is absurd.
Misleading title? Sorry for not painting a graphic canvas of my trysts.
I personally hate to judge people and I’d appreciate if you follow the suit. FYI, I’m no means lavish with anything. Back to my story.
The US is different. Nothing is as obvious as it seems. People treat you nice and wish you nice.
That doesn’t mean they’ll look out for you, they never cut corners.
It just blew me away. I mean, it is so darn difficult to deal with people.
I just aced my way through everything in India. It was so simple; I never worked hard for any test what so ever.
I am more than fine with blatantly lying to my parents why I had to contend myself with a 5th or 6th position.
I never even contemplated the true extent of my potential.
Professor – A
He was more than happy with my publications and numerical skills.
He asked me to wait for an email from him. I waited and waited.
I never heard back from him.
He suggested getting in touch with other professors in the meantime. Which I did.
Professor – B
I found a RA position in an industry collaborated project.
I had to learn about “chaotic advection”.
Fascinating stuff, I’ve literally never been more excited. I’ve accompanied him in quite a few trips to a kickass R&D center.
It was an overwhelming experience. I was so excited to start working.
I stopped caring for my classes. I’ve even spent whole nights in the lab learning every minutiae of the smart blending machine.
So, it was a hard blow when I first learned that the project was shelved.
Two months into my second semester and I was utterly disappointed that I couldn’t continue my work.
My professor, a bit contrite asked me to look for another advisor.
Things started falling apart.
I took a job at the only place that hires international students. Working messed up my sleep cycle.
I had my first of many recurring sleep paralysis attacks.
It was a page straight out of a horror flick.
Although, I never experienced any serious hallucinations, I did hear a few crazy voices.
Believe it or not, I was happy. I’ve never had any scope to grow as person in the last 20 years.
Suddenly, I had so many things to sort out, add to this a minor psych problem.
I felt like a protagonist in a cool drama novel with some interesting character flaws.
I did not do well that semester. I got a B, A and P (research credits).
Professor – C
In the summer, I met with yet another professor and started exploring microfluidics.
The next 5 months are the hardest in my life. I was never the same again.
Life bar mitzvah’ed me. I started off with learning linux and COMSOL.
I had to work on a supercomputer to dispatch some intense simulations (3D, unsteady! Phew).
My initial problems were a direct upshot of my utter incompetence; working on a new platform did not help it.
By, mid-June, the professor was pushing me really hard, more like shoving. I stopped enjoying the work.
I even thought of giving up on my Master’s thesis altogether. I continued working at night.
I made a few sacrifices- food, work-outs, chess, and TV et.al.
I had zero social life. All this stress accumulated and blew up spectacularly when my house collapsed on June 14th.
I lost most of my clothes, lost my laptop and lost my bed. I never asked my parents for money (domestic purposes) up until then.
I did not have renter’s insurance. I was paid 50 dollars and was moved into a different apartment by the property management company.
Next day, I had to hear the end of an aggravated rant which at some point became borderline abusive about me not having made any back-up of files.
He tossed me away. After two months of working for him, I had no prospects of writing a meaningful Master’s thesis.
Call it motherly instinct, my mom figured out something was wrong and asked me turn to God.
I got deeply theological; I started exploring different religions (during my long & late work-nights).
I’ve read quite some books during this period.
Bertrand Russell’s work impressed me the most. He talked about most of the things that I had in the back of my head.
In one lengthy conversation, I revealed that I no longer consider myself a Hindu. My mom freaked out, started crying and cursing the debauchery of the US and western culture.
My dad was unhappy too. I became an atheistically oriented agnostic.
By, June 20th I was able to convince my professor with the few files I was able to retrieve from the cluster.
He asked me to show the results by the end of July (kind of an ultimatum).
My immediate goals then,
- do the research work
- learn the software better
- buy a new laptop.
I started working 28-36 hours every week, i.e., 3-4 nights a week and spent most of my days in the library.
I was a zombie. I had no passion left. I was doing all the hard work for all the wrong reasons.
I never enjoyed the research.
With some help from my friends I was able to buy a new laptop and completed the work by 21st July.
Both of us are happy and he was impressed. He gave me a week off. He promised me a grader position.
I went to visit my sister (who now moved to the US with her husband). I got an email from the senior members of the research group saying that they were asked to fill out a short survey about my capabilities.
From what they said, they did give me a good review. July 30th, I got an email saying he was not able to find a funded position and that I will have to pay my own tuition.
That broke my spirit. I reeked of disappointment.
I wrote a strongly worded response to which he never responded. I went back soon. When I met him, he was really busy (or acted busy?) and only had this to say- “I can be your advisor but I cannot pay you. If you wish to continue let me know soon. If not, I suggest you opt for a non-thesis master, graduate soon and get a job.”
I talked to the faculty advisor for Indian students, department chair, graduate advisor, at-least 9 professors from 3 different departments. Everything was futile.
There is no painful damnation in hell than sensing the disappointment in your father’s voice.
I was a mess. It was my darkest hour. My health took a turn for the worse.
The world around me looked so happy. It was totally unfair.
I saw excited freshmen moving into their dorms. I saw graduating seniors with their big-city jobs. I saw all my friends with their happy lives.
I turned to political literature. I found myself leaning heavily towards Marxist-Leninist ideologies.
I started sympathizing with Guy Fawkes (Not the real one, I have no affinity to monarchy).
I felt alienated, jealous, unhappy and angry. Then, I found South Park.
It is the greatest thing in the world. I watched 3 whole seasons in 4 days. It literally made me forget about my life.
I watched 3 seasons of South Park in 4 Days. It literally changed my Life for good.
I backed myself and went to see a therapist. It did help me.
The department hired three new faculties and I met with them as soon as possible.
One of them was really interested in working with me. But, he made me sign an informal agreement exonerating him from all the responsibility in case I failed to impress him.
He did not pay for the work I did. I started liking the whole acoustic cavitation thing.
He was enthusiastic and cordial. He valued my opinion. I registered for four other courses (in case I had to switch to non-thesis).
I took up a new job in dining services and worked during the weekends.
Met some new people, moved into a new apartment far from my old friends (with renter’s insurance), got myself a girlfriend.
Things started looking up. I was more involved in organizing events with the Indian Students Association.
By December, I had an offer letter for RA position. And, recently I was recommended to into the PhD program.
I may have left out a ton of things. Just because I didn’t share everything, don’t think my life is illogical and is only a figment of my imagination.
And, don’t think I had an easy life just because I wrote the first part in an informal tone or talked about my girlfriends. FYI, I’m only sharing because my therapist asked me to.
To anyone who are planning to do their Masters, understand that – it doesn’t matter how many people you’ve talked to or how many blogs you’ve read, in the end your story will always be different. Cheers.
It doesn’t matter how many people you’ve talked to or how many blogs you’ve read, in the end your story will always be different.
Indian Student’s Life in USA
So, what do you think about this student’s life in USA. He’s fighting everyday and making progress.
There will be haters and supporters. Share your comments and thoughts. Are you a hater or supporter?