I haven’t had any resolutions at the beginning of 2017 as I had to choose between working in India and education in the US. I chose to pursue my Masters. The reason behind this decision is unclear to me even now; either it was because I had a low salary job or I thought a different environment would unlock my potential and I’d know my place in this world. Either way, I don’t regret it.
The year started off with a reject from one of my “safest” universities ASU. This had me worried, and at a point of time, I thought of applying to more safe universities. I had applied to 7 universities already and chose not to waste more money. I cursed the consultancy that gave me the university list and began accepting my fate. An admit from NCSU, my “moderate-level” choice, in February had me on cloud9. In the following weeks, I received admits from Utah, Stony brooks and my “safest” choice TTU. I wished more than anything that I’d get into my “ambitious” choice GaTech as my cousin studied there. After getting a rejection from GaTech, I was confident I’d get an admit from UMN but was followed up with a rejection in May. The process after that went pretty smooth; I got my Visa, got my loan sanctioned and prepared for my journey to a land 13,600 km away from home.
I met my friends from Intermediate and had a LAN party with my undergrad friends before I left. My family, maternal grandparents, my peddamma (aunt)’s family and my closest friends came to see me off at the airport. I wasn’t sad like the most but was anxious to what the future laid ahead for me. My flight journey was undoubtedly the worst experience in my life. I barfed several times (American Airlines had a barf bag, thank god!), was hungry and nauseous for 24 hours, only to find out that this won’t change for the next 36 hours.
My cousin, living in Charlotte, asked me beforehand if he should come pick me up at the airport. I had a choice and I chose to be picked up by my upperclassmen. This was my second disastrous experience. I was accommodated to a house where people didn’t bother coming out of their rooms. They asked me and a fellow newcomer to join them for dinner at a pizza place but I was too weak to walk. I chose to stay and cooked Maggi (Noodles). I called my mom and told her everything (shouldn’t have done that!). I couldn’t eat my noodles because of nausea and trashed it. With a growling stomach and a sleepless night, I wished I had accepted my cousin’s offer. I got a call from my peddananna (uncle) the following day as I was eating my mom’s packed food for breakfast. He asked me if everything was okay and if I wanted to visit them. I immediately accepted the offer and told him everything that happened. My cousin booked me a train ticket for the evening and I reached Charlotte hungry asf. I almost cried when I ate rice that night. I got better in the next two days and my cousin dropped me off at my new home and helped set it up.
I worked at the college’s printing shop as I misheard the salary to be $15 instead of $8.50 an hour (no, I’m not dumb; the manager pronounced it “eight-fifty”) and yes, my friends laughed at me because they get paid the same at the food court and get free food! Work was fun and I learned so much as I was the only non-American person there. The main bother was the food; I had to pack myself lunch and the other one was my leg ache; I had to stand all day. I quit the job in November because of some “self-respect” issues. Managing work alongside the courses was easy because the courses were easy. The coursework went pretty smooth and I ended up getting an A and two A+s. While I learned to cook, I still have a long way to go. Skyping home daily is now like a habit. Buying Mac was a good decision because now I can’t play games even if I wanted to. Bought my first iPhone ever (the X). Tasted alcohol for the first time and unlocked many more first experiences!
It has been 5 months since my arrival and made a lot of Telugu friends but not a single American friend and not even people from other Indian states (I know I’m pathetic!). As you can guess, making American friends is my new year resolution. Academic resolutions include getting an internship at a good firm (any firm actually; I’m desperate) and landing a dream job (the top 5)!