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Team Careers360|Jul 31, 2023
By Ananya Singvi
NEW DELHI: While growing up, I had never thought or dreamt of going abroad for studies. It was during the New Year's vacation when I was in Class 11 that one of my cousins said that I was very smart and that I should go out and that the world is huge, and there is much to see. She insisted that I should study abroad. I liked that idea. When I heard about her experience of studying abroad, I thought that was something I would like to do.
I did not know about the [application] process but I was sure it would be very complicated. I had no clue what the process was going to look like and was very nervous, so I dropped the idea for a while. After a few days, I decided to connect with a study abroad consultant in my city [Kota, Rajasthan] and he made everything sound so easy. I felt good to know a person who knew how to walk me through the whole process. He was the one who helped me apply to several universities. I applied to 14 colleges in the United States and Europe and I was offered admission in 11.
It was a dream come true and I was very excited but at the same time, it is not easy to fund education. I come from a joint family that is very well off. All my brothers studied abroad but I was the first girl who was looking to study abroad and my family was against the idea. And then Covid happened and they became even more scared.
So, I deferred my admission for a year also because my family was not ready to send me.
I decided on the University of Arizona, because of the scholarship. It was almost 85 percent and I was in a situation where I was fighting with my family. They would say, “If we don't fund it, how are you going to go?” I decided, if they are not going to send me, I am going to go myself. I kept trying to go out till I could convince them.
Also, I was looking forward to studying economics. Next, I compared the ranking. The University of Arizona ranking is very good for this four-year programme. The other very important reason was that the fee for the programme is USD 35,000 and I had to pay USD 5,000 plus the insurance and the living expenses which I am earning on my own. My family is taking care of the tuition fee only.
I live off-campus and I have two American roommates. They are very helpful. One of them took me to all the stores and supermarkets.
But with time, things started getting difficult. I had to make financial decisions and be responsible for them. I had to keep track of expenses which I had never done before. Within one month of coming to the US, I was very determined and got myself a job.
I told myself I needed to do this and that is what I had told my family, that I will start earning for my expenses.
I worked from 10 pm to 2 am which proved to be very very bad for my health. But I decided to do it. My job was that of a cashier at a coffee shop. In the morning I used to have my classes and then during the day, I did not want to miss out on the opportunities to socialise.
My classes used to start at 9 am and then continued till 2 pm with breaks in between. I used to be back home between 6 pm and 7 pm. It was then that I used to have my first meal of the day.
I would leave home without eating anything than come home and cook for myself and then eat at around 6 or 7 pm and leave for work at 10 pm. In between I would complete my homework.
After coming back from a job at 2 am I would still study for an hour and sleep at around 4 am for two to three hours and then again get ready for classes.
I continued like that for almost six months. Because of lack of sleep and food, I was not cooking or eating properly, and I started becoming very frustrated. I started missing home and used to cry a lot to my mother. I used to think I fought with everyone to choose this life which is so difficult. I was realising how difficult it was to make money. I was feeling more and more homesick.
I would cry a lot and call my mother. I would want to come back home and at the same time tell her I wanted to prove myself. I found myself very alone at times because I have friends but those friends are not like your school friends and they are busy with their lives too.
Then, I am a vegetarian. I had never cooked before and found cooking, too, very hard. I had a breakdown. But then I thought I had to help myself. I started communicating and talking with people and asking them, “Are you going through the same phase?” It turns out, everybody was going through that mental phase. One of my friends told me for three days he stayed in his room just looking at the walls and that is when I realised that it is normal. Everybody was going through the same phase and I decided I would travel back to India during the summer break to see my family. I came home in the summer of 2022.
My life did not stop. I got a new job the next semester and that was in marketing and was a good job. Marketing is my subject as well. The work hours were from 10 am to noon and I would be free by 2 pm with my classes and my work.
My first year was very tough, working odd hours and spending sleepless nights. Now I work at a startup incubator. It is a very big unit and I work online as a marketing executive for them. These days I can devote more time to studies and research.
Previously, I thought there was nothing like home and I needed my parents. After coming to the US I realise life is the same everywhere and every place, after you spend some time, starts to feel like home. Presently I am doing a double major in economics and marketing and a minor in government and public policy. My final aim is to work for the United Nations.
(As narrated to Pritha Roy Choudhury)
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