This Aug. 28, I took a flight from my home town to the United States of America and only mid-way on the 17-hour long journey, I realized I do not have a return ticket this time. I just don’t know when I will next go home. Feels like a very simple feeling “to go home” but the most painful feeling when you realize don’t know when will you be able to.
Landing in America felt like one of the longest dreams has come true. I couldn’t wait to start my new life here only to realize that the kind of life all the movies, TV series and other people's Instagram showed was just the half-good side. The real side of America was welcoming yet was a major shock. The life back in India was suddenly looking like the best I had and I left it behind for something I didn’t even knew.
The transition to the American life is quite fun in the beginning as a student; you start your college and new course, settling in your apartment with roommates, doing all the touristy things, meeting all the new people make it so much fun. But once this honeymoon phase ends, is when you realize that how polar opposite life in America is going to be. To the students who have hardly ever cooked one meal of their own, have to suddenly shop every single grocery and cook and clean after every meal. Students who have hardly ever made their own beds have to do laundry, vacuuming and what not. They might sound very basic things and they are very much. But it is not about the task, it is about the habit.
In this weird situation that I was in, I ended up talking to fellow Indian students who were also going through something exact same but in different ways. “165,918” is the number of Indian students that come to the U.S. every year to pursue their education and the number is ever growing only. That inspired me to conduct a full-fledged research to know what the things maximum people faces are. What are the major challenges students are troubled with and on what level. The kind of results that came for this research was a major surprise to me and my mentor.
Some quick facts about the research are 68 percent of people who took this survey were males. And 67 percent of the respondents were between in the age of 22-24. Only 24 percent students are fully comfortable with American education system. More than 40 percent students feel pressured to excel in their academics because of the significant investment of an international venture. Less than 70 percent students felt accepted by non-Indian students. More than 50 percent students face time management issues. And more than 50 percent students feel that the currency exchange rate between INR and USD affects their spending behaviour. Talking about their meals, more than 50 percent student face issues cooking their everyday meals. And only 26 percent were satisfied with their current living conditions.
These numbers might look like mere percentages to you as a reader but they represent more than thousands of Indian students. All of them face such challenges and yet these problems never get solved nor do anyone who tries to give a precautionary suggestion about them to upcoming students. As a responsible community this is what we should do now. All the family members or friends or anyone we know who is planning to shift to the U.S., let us give them this necessary piece of advice. And make them ready for this tough/different journey in the America. It is the best kind of help we can do to our community.
Let's pledge to help our own kind.