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Ayush Vijaywargi



Oct 2014
American Experience: My Path to New Life

When I applied to Purdue University in November to major in computer
science, I heard much about Purdue and determined it was my premiere choice
for pursuing my higher education. I was hopeful and ultimately I got my
acceptance early in late December and my excitement was way over the clouds. I
started fantasizing about my new life in the coming August. I pondered on
numerous ideas about how my roommate would be like, what kind of food I
would eat and what friends I would soon make!
When I first received my housing email, I was ecstatic. I thought to myself,
this person is going to be my roommate! Immediately, I tried to search for him
on Facebook. I found nothing. I tried to search for him on other social networks.
However, I was not able to find him. Finally, I found somebody called Albert
Hwang. Even though his last name was spelled differently, I was initially
confident that he was my new roommate. Unfortunately, my excitement ceased
as I realized that the person on Facebook was not actually my roommate. Thus,
the search for my mysterious roommate continued.
When I finally retrieved my roommates actual Facebook profile, it
seemed to me that his persona is not exactly what I had expected. I found a few
posts and very little activity on Alberts profile. I finally added him to my list of
friends and started chatting with him. His sentences were short and abrupt and
he asked awkward questions such as Why dont you eat cow? In addition, as I
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calculated the time difference of his location in California, it seemed that he was
late snoozer. On the contrary, I took pleasure to converse, observed social norms,
and slept early. Through these differences, one of the most significant
distinctions was that he appeared to be an introvert while on other hand I am an
extrovert. However, due to my urge of getting to know him more, I declined from
revealing my own lifestyle and habits. Instead, I talked to him late at night falsely
telling him that I enjoy playing video games and had him believe that we shared
similar qualities. This brought an amusing and interesting conversation as he
was a fairly skilled gamer, and I was not able to keep conversation with him
regarding games.
In addition to meeting Albert, I have been chatting with some other
Americans. The other Americans were completely normal, compared to Albert. I
met a person who was supposed to be my future neighbor at Purdue, Evan, had
characteristics of a typical American boy. I enjoyed talking to him since he had
interests that were much in line with what I expected. I also found other
Americans and chatted with them on Facebook. Even those people had much
similar characteristics as Evan. It is now apparent that I was not looking forward
to meeting my new roommate.
Although I did not expect to get along with roommate surprisingly, he
turned out to be very friendly. I arrived in the U.S. only days before I moved in to
Purdue. When I actually met my roommate in person, he turned out to be a
reasonably sociable and nice guy, in total contrast to his empty and unsociable
Facebook profile. We got along just fine from the start. Since we were both in the
Computer Science learning community, we mostly spent time with each other.
And to be honest, I never felt alone in his company as he always had a lot to talk
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about. He could even start a conversation on plants and make it sound
interesting for hours. One thing that was contrasting in us was his energy to do
something new. He was always ready to try all kinds of activities like camping,
visiting Wal-Mart at midnight and participating in arts of defense like Kendo and
Karate. He invited me to participate in all these activities and unexpectedly, I
loved all of them. I learnt two things by spending time with him: You can not
judge people by their presentation on social media and you must always try new
and distinct things as they can be a lot of fun.
Later on, I met another person Matt. As I remember it was evening and
there was a lot of hustle and bustle around me as people were moving in and
parents were biding farewell to their kids. I was walking down the hallway
where I met a senior aged man. I dont know how but we instantly started
conversation with each other. Our conversation was flowing quite well, he was
talking about his university experiences and I on other hand was telling him how
excited I was about my stay at Purdue. He then invited me to his sons room so
that we could interact with each other. As soon as I entered I was astonished by
the look of the room. There was too much stuff lying here and there. I wondered
that how they managed to bring such a load of luggage to this room. Nevertheless
I not only met Matt but his brothers and mom too. With their conversations they
turned out to be a caring family as they were bit worried for me as I had arrived
alone and had no dependents in America. They were a bit more concerned about
Purdue and might be Purdue was not there premiere choice hence they wanted
to know how well regarded was Purdue in eyes of foreigners, in this case it was
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Throughout my experiences in America, I have experienced few
difficulties in various aspects including but not limited to being mocked of my
cultural diversity, specifically my high values of being a vegetarian. For example,
friend Albert occasionally annoys me by trying to put chicken in my meals. As I
try to enjoy my college life, one of the most strenuous things I must endure is
adapting to American culture. From the get go, I was worried about holding a
conversation with a native English speaker as I feared of being misunderstood
and thought that I would not be able to reply fast to keep the dialogue flowing. In
spite of my hesitation, I tried to surround myself with natives, which boosted my
confidence as well as conversational abilities as I learned general American
phrases. I even started to pick up some American habits that I found to be
appealing like tipping in restaurants. This greatly helped me acclimate myself
with the environment.
Another big problem I faced was choices in food. I was faced with very
limited and foreign vegetarian options. But I believe that what really helped me
was my extroverted nature. I used to strike up a conversation with people who
stood ahead of me in the line and ask them about food, posing questions like
which of the options were vegetarian and how they tasted. It not only helped me
in maintaining a nutritious diet, as I was not limiting myself to Indian food, but
also expanded my palate to American vegetarian food. Because of my
extroverted nature, I was able to easily make new friends, adapt to new cultures,
all the while staying within my own cultural boundaries.
With regards to academics I faced few challenges, as I was not aware of
the grading scale of American schools. I came from an education system that did
not use grades to judge a students academic success. Instead we had a
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percentage system and every student got a percentage value on scale of hundred.
Moreover, we got our scores from final exams instead of the midterm and
percentage-breakdown system commonly used here in the states.
Finally, I want to say that adjustment is big part of our life. As an
international student, adapting to the American lifestyle was indeed a challenge.
I had two choices: to hang out with other people of my ethnicity or to broaden
my circle of friends. I chose the latter and befriended many Americans. I wanted
to have a more diverse friend circle, share my culture with fellow colleagues, and
learn from their cultures. Lastly I want to advise audience that in order to adjust,
you have to introspect yourself by asking few questions, like what kind of
challenges we can face as an International students? How can we rectify these
problems? What can we do to make ourselves emotionally stable that is
preventing the homesickness? Can being extrovert help us? Why is it easy for
few students to get adjusted while it is difficult for others? Is this problem
because of our poor communication skills or our introvert nature to accept an
alien culture? If thats the case then we must surround ourselves with the people
that have better conversational abilities and who are extrovert. We can learn by
just being in their company and without even trying you will feel the changes
within yourself. It can be hard to adjust if we dont try much otherwise it can be a
really smooth process.