2 Years This Indian Student’s Life in 3 Words : Disaster, Delusional and Delighted

Raghuram Sukumar Student Stories 18 Comments

indian student life in usaI’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.

 Academics 2.0

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.
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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.

Collapsed Roof

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.

Professor D

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?

Part 1 – This Indian Student Talks Education, Projects, Girlfriends and Sex. Parent’s Shouldn’t Be Reading This


  1. Yes, life gets hard sometimes. My ex-roommate was a bit off the hook and got violent on me and threatened to call the cops and have my ass towed back to India. My roof leaked all over my bed and fizzed out my laptop too. And more. But the best part? You have to hang on in these tests and you get rewarded amply and it makes everything else worth it. Which you did. Also the life lesson you got out of it? Priceless.
    A 3-finger Spock cheer to you !

        1. Author

          I reply to email that required yes or no question. I don’t have 10 mins time to reply for profile eval, university selection or job opportunities. You can post the same questions in forums or schedule consultation call or join premium membership. I reply to each and every questions asked by premium members in 24 hours.

  2. Hello,
    U.S. in not everything. if you have skills and talent, you can study anywhere. why only U.S…….why don’t you try other places?
    only U.S. is doing everything? not, never ever. did U.S. invented everything? never
    so come out of this U.S. dilemma.
    if 1 dollar=1 rupees, i am pretty sure,no body from india and mr. raghu himself will run away from U.S. immediately……

    1. Author

      First part if your comment about education – agreed. Talented people will survive any where. Second part about USA. Let’s talk when 1 RS = 1 USD. Probably not happening in your life time or my life time. About invention, you wouldn’t be posting this comment if it wasn’t for invention in USA.

      1. at the end only matters how much money in your pocket.
        No body is bothered about good education.
        why students putting their life in hell in US? they never studied in India for 4 years in their bachelor and aspect that U.S. Education education system will teach them everything in 2 years.
        they know only one thing that they can earn more money in U.S. after completing the master degree. that’s all………

  3. Oh man! This life is really, so hard!!! But, a strong goal and will power makes them push harder. Some people think that, if a person goes to US to study, then he is very lucky and he lives an easy life and he is enjoying and so on. But, they never know these kind of struggle!

  4. That is true no two persons have the same story though these experiences prepare you mentally especially to students like me who are soon going to USA..and Raghu sir please respond to my mail.

  5. “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. – Agree 100 %

  6. This raghu guy is nuts. Why not post something positive for a change mister?
    I’m sick and tired reading of all the disturbing stories that you post here. Are you trying to convince students not to enter the USA?
    If you want to maintain your blog, post happy stories about and helpful tips that we can benefit from, otherwise please take this blog down.

    1. Author

      Are you by any chance living in a fantasy world where all things will happen the way you wanted? There are over 3000 articles in this blog and Campus Life related article are less than 50. I’m sharing what people are sharing with me.

      1. My dear Raghuram Sukumar,
        I am most certainly not living in a fantasy world. I can assure you that I’ve seen enough of life unlike you.
        But I digress, coming back to my original point, lets make a list of the most recent articles on your blog.
        1) This student couldn’t handle first day in USA
        2) 2 years of my life in 3 words.
        3) Do you want to study in canada?
        All these articles give me an impression that you’re trying to paint USA as some sorta haunted mansion where nobody can survive. I can’t see a single happy story.
        I suppose you can post a balance mix of articles to improve the perspective that students in general have about your group.

  7. This guy and other such ppl who are facing this problems are just fantastic ppl. Reading this story gave me goose bumps. Hats off man. U grow when u strive. And these the ppl who will give u the words of wisdom. Amazing man. Keep it up!! Keep sharing

  8. Hi Raghu,

    Sorry that you’re receiving a lot of hate from some of the people who comment. I personally think people can be be a little more kind while explaining what their problem with the article is.

    I found something pretty disturbing with the preamble.
    “Misleading title? Sorry for not painting a graphic canvas of my trysts”
    I see a lot of comments saying most of your articles have misleading titles and I agree 100%
    I read somewhere that English is not your first language so its not your fault at all.
    My suggestion would be to spend a considerable amount of time next time you decide the title of an article as in many cases the article and the title have no relation at all.

    1. Author

      Rashmee – You are talking from reader perspective. I’m creating titles based on facts and numbers, what works and what isn’t working. I start writing blog post with some 3 word title. Then spent atleast 15 to 20 minutes writing multiple titles per article. Then I use few calculations to see which will drive traffic.

      Social headlines need to create a curiosity with hook. Too vague, and nobody cares. Too specific, and nobody needs to clicks.

      Here’s list of title’s I crafted for this blog post and I happen to have it saved

      1. Professors Can Make Research Student’s Life Really Miserable
      2. Could You Afford To Study in USA Under these Stressful Conditions
      3. This is the Reality Behind the Life of an Indian Student in USA
      4. This Student Documents 2 Years of Twists and Turns in His Life
      5. This Students Life is So Complex with Twists, Turns and Misfortunes.
      6. The Saying “All is Well” Doesn’t Apply this Grad School Student in America
      7. Holy Crap! This Student’s Life Can’t Get Any More Tougher Than This
      8. Holy Crap! This Indian Student’s Life Can’t Get Any More Miserable Than This, But He Lives to Fight.
      9. Life of this Indian Student in 3 Words : Disaster, Delusional and Delighted
      10. What Life is Like When Things Get Messy at Graduate School for Indian Students
      11. Life After Professors Ditches Student 3 times
      12. This Indian Student Was Ditched by Professor’s Three Times. Guess What Happened 4th Time?
  9. I appreciate his sharings as it takes a strong person to reveal his struggles for others to read. The road ahead is always full of challenges.
    Thank You for sharing.

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