Namaskaram, with love from Texas
I hope all of you are good back home in India. If you’re wondering who I am writing from Texas, with a Namaskaram in my tagline, let me tell you I am also a student like you from India. My name is Akhil and I am pursuing my masters in cyber security at University of North Texas in Texas. It’s been almost a year since I left home to study in Texas, make it big in my life, and make my parents and country proud.
‘Take care and become something…’ said my Tattayya as his eyes gleamed when I bid him goodbye before starting for studying abroad in USA. His words have inspired me here in Texas, where I see myself growing into a successful professional over the next 7-8 years.
It’s my personal journey from a small town Jaggayyapet (Andhra Pradesh), where I spent my childhood with my Nanna, Nanamma and Tattayya, enjoying savoury Pulihora, Ariselu, and Paravanam on Sankranti all the way to Texas, the city which embraced me like thousands of Indian students with open arms and opportunities to build a successful career. It’s my journey from ‘Pulihora to Poached Salmon’.
Living in Texas is no small feat, let me tell you. I had taken up a shared room at Epoch near Denton in Texas. My first week in Texas was a real roller coaster ride for me. I was amused by the hustle and bustle of Texas, famous low floor buses which we have seen growing up in movies, the American lifestyle, customs, a whole new education system and, of course, the American cuisine. I personally liked Quesidilla the most from the US cuisines. Coming from a completely different culture, I, too, found it difficult to adjust to the new environment in Texas. But these challenges and hurdles have made me even stronger and more determined to make a difference in my and my family’s lives.
One aspect that took me by surprise in the first week was the cost of living in Texas. In India, we are used to the low cost of living; groceries are cheap, and so are other utilities back home. But Texas is a different ball game altogether. I usually buy groceries and other cooking essentials from the offline market. The nearest department store to my room is Wall mart. It’s just a stone’s throw away from place. On an average, my weekly spends come to about 150$. Okay, I agree. It also depends on us as to how much we spend. I believe in frugal living. With proper planning and taking up a part-time job at University Dine in dept near the university, I’ve not only been able to manage my expenses well but also have some savings now. This is despite the fact that I work for not more than 20 hours a week!!! Surprising, right? It’s commonplace here.
You know, unlike India, here in the USA, it’s pretty common for students to take up part-time jobs to support their studies. Even companies prefer students with part-time work experience for full-time employment. You must be wondering how I manage my expenses here; it’s not as difficult as it seems. I don’t spend much on outside food here. I cook for myself, do the dishes, and once in a while, also savour the famous ‘Earl Grey Tea’ with my friends –And voila, you’ve already mastered budgeting skills.
Speaking of studies, I will be frank. I am not from a top-tier college, not even a second-tier college, in India. Not many companies visited my college for recruitment drives either. And it’s not a miracle or a one-off case; there are thousands of Indian students like me who were not from a top-tier university in India. But they made it to the USA with massive scholarships and are now doing wonders in their fields. I’ll go with my example.
In the initial days, I, too, struggled while coping with the fast-paced education environment in Texas. But you know, the professors and university administration pay special attention to students like me, providing extra support, additional classes, if need be, good quality notes and personal guidance too.
When I look back over my last year in Texas, I find myself better prepared and placed in the rich academic environment of the USA. Exposure to industry-oriented skills, courses, cutting-edge technology, experiential learning system and wider collaboration opportunities have prepared me for a stimulating career.
Of course, like other international students from all over the world, I, too, sometimes feel homesick, especially during festivals like Sankranti and Deepawali. I often connect with my family and friends over video calls, wishing and greeting them. I just have to take care of the time zone gap. Moreover, the Indian expatriate community welcomes Indian students, often celebrating festivals with us, giving a feeling of a home away from home. Whenever I feel homesick or miss the home cooked food, I often pay a visit to Swadeshi (a nearby Indian restaurant) to savour Punugulu and Rava Kesari. I often take my American friend John to give him the taste of his, and, you know what, he always gets flabbergasted seeing the wide variety of sweet dishes we Indians enjoy.
As an Indian student in Texas, I have realised that life in Texas is not just about studying. It goes beyond academics; it is about embracing this beautiful country with as much enthusiasm as it embraced me when I first arrived here. My weekends are often dedicated to exploring the streets of Texas, monuments and museums like the Dallas Museum of Art, greenery, adventure parks and savouring delicacies from all over the world, and not just the USA. The subway system here, we call it metro back home – hahaha, is something which has come in handy to me while exploring Texas.
Studying in Texas has been a dream come true for me. It has been a transformative experience for me, widening my horizons and shaping my personality remarkably. Studying in a class full of students of different nationalities and ethnicities and building lifelong friendships with them has helped me become more open-minded and culturally aware. From celebrating Chinese New Year to Halloween, it feels as if I’ve become a global citizen.
To all the study abroad aspirants reading my blog back home in India, I would say Texas is worth it; it’s worth the pain of staying away from our homeland to make a world of difference in our loved ones’ lives. Texas has embraced, and I have embraced Texas; I am sure it will embrace you, too, with the same enthusiasm and support. Don’t be afraid of challenges; they are opportunities in disguise for you to make it big. And when I say it, I mean it because when someone like me can make it to Texas, you can too!
Wondering how I got admission to my dream university in Texas with a massive scholarship? Credit where it’s due. I would express my gratitude to Unixperts’ expert study abroad consultants whose guidance made this transformative journey to Texas possible and helped me live the American dream I once longed for. They helped me understand the entire process in my mother tongue Telugu.
Without their help, it would have been next to impossible for me to know about such a huge scholarship which covered my tuition and living expenses, let alone the question of applying for it. Their expertise in the visa application process is also remarkable; I remember making a mistake in the visa application, which Unixperts rectified before applying. Had they not rectified my error in the visa application, it would have cost me my USA study dream.
Hats off to the Unixperts team!
You, too, can fly to your dream university abroad, like Akhil . Fill in the enquiry form and get a free personalised counselling session from Unixperts’ expert counsellors.