Experience shared by a long time HSB Reader by a Fall 2011 grad student and an HSB fan wishing to be anonymous.
It was a dream come true when I got my acceptance. The excitement of not only a new life beckoning, a new academic experience awaiting, but also the satisfaction of making my parents proud, my teachers happy..and the joy of being a star amongst my friends.
Everyone patted me in the neighborhood, as my father proudly declared “My child is going to USA”.
I was the new hero. Personally, I had heard so much about US education, the ambiance, the life, that I could not wait for the few months to end..of course there was this sorrow of leaving my family and friends behind..but US is US!!!
Cut to…August 2011. Finally landed in US. Reached my apartment.
And the first thing I noted was..Hello! where are the people?
That’s one shock that one will have to acclimatize to in contrast to India, and particularly in universities that are not in proper cities.
Barely any people, particularly outside university hours.
To a reader in India, it might not appear to be a big deal, but once you start living this life, it does become frustrating at one point of time…so be prepared!!
Groceries in USA
The second issue for me was access to even the daily groceries…you have to wait throughout the week for the weekend buses to take you to malls.
Particularly, having studied from home all my life, rationing itself was a hard task (what to buy, what amount to buy, what to cook, etc etc ).. and you have to do all that rationing in one day…and if you miss any..(say salt!!), wait up for the next week!!!
That brings me to the conversion part…$ to INR…for the first few weeks, I used to shriek when say I saw that a 500ml Pepsi Bottle (Rs 20 in India) costs 1.5 $, or maybe a loaf of bread costs $1, or a slice of Pizza costs 2$, but gradually you get used to it.
You have no options anyways. By the way, I guess every university has an Indian store at its vicinity, where you get your homely products.
Big time Problem – Telephone
Another bigtime problem I faced was regarding telephone, but that was more of my own idiocy, but it’s a note of warning.
I was using a India calling card system, but neglected to read its usage method properly.
Hence, after 2 weeks, I landed up with a phone bill of more than 500$, because all of my calls were being directly connected instead of being connected through the calling card..and phone rates in US are very high. (international calls around 3$/min).
Eventually the network providers were kind enough to slash a big chunk of the amount from the bill, but I was a lot, lot lucky there.
A word of caution..whenever you are using any facility, read its terms and usage patterns carefully.
About the People in USA
About the people here, what I have experienced is they are highly helpful and welcoming..be it at the shops, or any university office.
You won’t have a problem in your deals…the only problem that I faced (and still face) is that of accents, but I guess over time, you get used to it.
Academics in USA
Coming to academics, the first sem has been a bit of shock (and downer) to me.
You constantly have assignments, midterms, term papers, discussion sessions, homeworks that leave you with little time for recreation.
Be prepared for a hard studytime…since they expect you to be updated about your studies every week, you almost have no time to be laidback.
And each of the factors I mentioned above (assignments, term papers) contribute to the final grade.
Don’t Copy Assignments
Another thing, do not even think of copy-pasting your assignments from other sources..plagiarism is a big issue, and you might even be sacked
About social life, any university has a large chunk of Indian population, so if one is extrovert, he/she should have no problems having a decent social life.
There are places to go, weekends to hangout. But your academic commitments, coupled with your on-campus jobs, TAships (I have a very depressing TA which takes up most of the week) and your homely responsibilities, would leave you very little time to hangout.
2 Months of Life in USA
Finally, 2 months into the US life, what I would say is that perhaps, the process of achieving my dreams of studying here hasn’t been very smooth, but it hasn’t been disappointing either..the people are nice and sincere, and are highly committed to their work..be it the professors, the office assistants or others, and that way, you start loving being here.
But since you are far away from your near and dear ones, even the tiniest of problems can amplify because you are pretty left to your own devices.
But there will always be a way out and the people here will be more than happy to help you out.
And, hopefully, in a few months, I shall be confident enough to independently maneuver myself through this life.
Fall 2012 applicants…ALL THE BEST.