Coming to the United States of America for my higher studies is one of the most exciting and interesting experiences in my life. I still remember the excitement and anticipation on the eve of my arrival to the United States. I was also nervous about entering a society that is very different from my native culture. But now that I’ve spent a fair passage of time here, I’ve overcome my initial nervousness and assimilate fairly well with people. I can look back at my stay in the United States and pick valuable experiences that have helped me develop my personality. Some of these experiences have also strengthened my character. I’ve like to discuss some of these experiences in the following passages.
My challenges in being able to integrate well into American society started even before I could apply for college admission here. Indeed, it started with my English as Foreign Language examinations, which are requisite qualifications for University admissions in the United States. These were some of the toughest examinations I’ve faced. They proved challenging coz I only studied English as a auxiliary subject in my school, whereas the standards expected by the examination was relatively high. Hence, I had to put in plenty of hard work in overcoming my English language deficits. Moreover trying to get accustomed to the American accent, idiom and cultural references was a difficult task. In this regard, Hollywood proved to be a great help. As way of preparing for my examinations, I would watch a classic Hollywood film every day. And before long, I was able to get acclimatized with the American accent, cinematic style and cultural sensibilities of the nation. For me, the key lesson was to keep an open mind and try to understand a culture that is different to that of my own. This not only helped me learn English expeditiously, but also highlighted to me the artistic cinematic expression evident in Hollywood.
Coming to the key experiences that happened ‘after’ my arrival in the United States, I would cite my initial weeks in the student hostel as both instructive and formative. One of the fortunate facet to hostel life is that I was able to find other students from cultural backgrounds that are similar to mine. The foreign students in the hostel formed a tight-knit community, with similar aspirations, hesitations and limitations. As a team, we would encourage and comfort each other when someone becomes homesick or feels intimidated by the alien culture. Even American students were quite cordial and welcoming of us. The initial few weeks were a bit tough due to my moderate communication skills, but soon I was able to communicate with all students (foreign or American) without great difficulty. While my experience in making new friends has been largely positive, I should also mention the odd instance of racism or ethnic discrimination that I’ve encountered. But these instances were an exception rather than the rule. I learnt to be tolerant toward those who were unkind and appreciative of those who were kind.
I enjoyed the college life enormously. The world class infrastructure offered by the University is not something I could have dream of in my native country. I would even visit the library and other facilities just to soak in the atmosphere and delight in the ambience and access. The sprawling campus with its carefully planned layout, landscaping and architecture is a great source of pleasure. In the evenings, I would promenade the neatly manicured gardens and sidewalks of the campus along with my friends. We would discuss interesting topics discussed in the class and also try to integrate that knowledge with our socio-economic and cultural roots. I learnt how talking to people and trying to see their point of view can widen our perspectives and deepen our understanding of issues.