My Journey to the USA: The First Week Abroad
Part 1: The Decision to Study Again
Leaving the familiarity of one's homeland is never an easy decision. It's a leap of faith, a step into the unknown, and the start of a new chapter. So, there I was, embarking on my first-ever journey outside of India, heading to the United States. This trip marked the beginning of a new adventure, one filled with excitement, nervousness, and a profound sense of stepping into the unknown.
As the famous saying goes, "If you want to be in someplace or be someone, you have to leave the place you're in." That's precisely what I did. I decided to pursue a master's degree in the USA, a choice that was both exciting and intimidating. Let me clarify; I wasn't particularly thrilled about returning to a formal educational setting. After all, I was well into my late twenties, and I felt like I had my fair share of classroom experiences.
To be completely candid, my college days felt more like a rite of passage, an opportunity to make friends, and a means to secure a certificate that might prove useful in future job hunts. But that's a topic for another post. The crux of the matter is that I've always been passionate about technology and proficient in programming. Yet, my academic journey didn't always align with my aspirations. Most of what I truly knew, I'd learned through online courses and my own exploration of the vast digital landscape.
You might wonder why I chose to pursue a master's degree now, especially in the USA, where this narrative has become somewhat of a stereotype. Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, in today's competitive job market, having the right degree with good grades often matters more than how much you know. It's a somewhat disheartening reality, but having a civil engineering degree while aiming to work extensively in computer science does raise eyebrows. Thus, a master's degree, particularly from a prestigious institution in the USA, could significantly enhance my profile.
Secondly, the experience itself was something I yearned for – to live abroad, immerse myself in a new culture, adapt to a different system, and face the challenges it would undoubtedly bring. In my professional life, I've always sought out tasks that push me beyond my comfort zone because I believe that's where the real growth happens. Yet, when it came to my personal life, I'd shied away from the unknown, preferring the cozy confines of home and familiarity. This master's program was my opportunity to break that pattern.
So, I resigned from my well-paying job, tackled a barrage of tests, navigated the bureaucratic maze of visa applications, booked my flight to the USA, and finally, after months of anticipation, I was on my way.
Part 2: Touchdown in the USA
The journey began with bittersweet farewells to family and friends. As I set foot in the airport with my loved ones, the magnitude of the change ahead was palpable. I boarded my first flight, and the sensation of traveling at speeds exceeding 800 km/h, soaring above the clouds, crossing international borders, was nothing short of awe-inspiring
The moment the plane touched down in the USA, a whirlwind of immigration checks and baggage collection ensued. Accompanied by a friend I'd met online, who coincidentally would be sharing my room, we soon discovered an issue with our accommodation arrangements. What followed was hours spent in the airport, grappling with the unexpected setback. It was far from the smooth start I'd envisioned, but we managed to resolve the problem with the help of friends.
My friend's brother, who resided in New Jersey, extended a warm welcome. For the first couple of days, he treated us to delicious meals and provided us with a temporary shelter. He also imparted valuable insights into our new surroundings. Once we had secured a more permanent living arrangement, we relocated to our new abode.
I found myself residing with a group of friends, some of whom were fellow students from my university, while others were seniors from different institutions. It was an eclectic mix, and the experience was nothing short of eye-opening. The transition to a new city and its distinct way of life took some getting used to. The pace was different, the systems unique, and the adjustments came in due course.
Part 3: The Early Days
The initial days in the USA revolved around video calls with family and friends, exploring the local surroundings, socializing with new acquaintances, scrolling through Instagram feeds, and adapting to an entirely new sleep schedule. It was a period of adjustment, where the unfamiliar became routine.
Soon, the orientation day arrived, and I had the chance to meet the people I'd been chatting with in online groups. It was a day filled with camaraderie and excitement, setting the tone for the academic journey ahead.
One significant event that added to my excitement was the arrival of my new laptop. It marked the start of a new phase, one where I had to re-establish my daily routine. This included refreshing my programming skills, actively posting reviews on my website, and, of course, delving into my studies.
The first week in the USA had been an incredible whirlwind of emotions, new experiences, and significant changes. I knew that much lay ahead in this journey, and I couldn't wait to embrace it all. The path was undoubtedly challenging, but I was ready to face it head-on, armed with determination and optimism. As I reflected on this first week, I felt a sense of anticipation for the remarkable adventures that awaited me. This was just the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I was eager to see how the rest of the story would unfold.