An Indian in the US: A Postgraduate’s Tale | FindAMasters.com
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Posted on 25 Jul '22

An Indian in the US: A Postgraduate’s Tale

Studying abroad is a big decision, but it’s one that is full of opportunity and new experiences. We spoke to Siddhesh Zadey, who went from Nagpur, India to Boston and Durham in the US, about his experience.

#1 Can you remember how you felt when you first stepped off the plane in Boston?

Apart from being anxious about my housing and how it will work out, I think the first thing that I thought was – “This is new.” It might sound somewhat obvious, but I don’t think we often appreciate what new things, new places, and new people bring into our lives. Staring in a new city or a new country presents a chance of doing things in a new way, maybe even a better way. I think I was looking forward to that.

#2 Did you feel supported when you first arrived?

Most people in the lab were super nice to me and my mentor was really supportive. It’s dependent on your supervisor, mentor, and roommates. I was lucky to have people who were compassionate around me.

Siddhesh Zadey Masters Study Abroad USA

#3 Was the culture shock as ‘shocking’ as you thought it would be?

Inside the lab, there wasn’t really any kind of culture shock as it was like the labs that I was used to working at in India. It was outside of the lab that I noticed it. India doesn't have the same drinking culture as the US. It seemed the main way of 'greasing the wheels' when it came to socialising. I was in my very early 20s so it took a while for me to adjust to that. Even learning to politely decline was something that I had to navigate on my own.

#4 Where would you recommend for international students thinking about studying in the US?

I’d say the East and West coasts are more supportive of international students. Boston is a great place to be because it's cosmopolitan. There are also a lot of universities, communities and support groups there. If you’re interested or working in medicine then Boston is where most of the hospitals in Massachusetts are. I’d also recommend some of the other big cities such as New York and Chicago. I'm now living in Durham, North Carolina, which is still East Coast I suppose, and I like it here too. It’s smaller and closer to my hometown population size, population density and the size of the city. Durham has amazing food places and people are quite nice and easy to talk to.

#5 What do you love most about being in the US?

The quality of life here is much higher. We have better access to good water, clean air, open spaces, parks and biking trails! I like to work on things and then take off for a bit and have some time to myself, so it’s great for that. There are few places in India that you can do that. The weather here is better too since I generally like colder places.

#6 What do you think was your biggest struggle?

Back in India, the social class I belonged to meant we had maids doing different things at our home. I had to adjust to cooking my own meals, buying groceries, budgeting and doing laundry.

I left home for my undergraduate at 18 so I got a trial at having to do everything for myself at that stage. But, we had cheap cafeterias and dorms where we could get quick lunch so it was still easier. It’s a leap to go from focusing on what you’re doing and having everything else taken care of for you, to thinking that I want to eat healthy, so I have to cook for myself and not eat junk food. There's also no one who is going to come and tell you that you should or shouldn’t do these things.

Sometimes you’re better off for it, but I have friends who have found it hard. Some of them have struggled with mental and physical health problems. It definitely shows you whether you’re actually suited to living here alone or not.

#7 What’s it like when you go home to visit now?

Once you’ve left, you’re a guest when you return home. It’s no-ones fault, it’s how life moves on. I lived in my parents’ home for 17 years, but now I’m not used to the way they have the kitchen for example as my kitchen (in Durham) is set up very differently.

It also surprises me when I refer to the US as my home, quite inadvertently. I’ll be chatting with friends and I’ll say “Oh I’m not home right now, I’m in India visiting my parents”, and that feels so strange because I am actually home!

#8 What advice would you give to someone thinking about studying in the US?

It’s definitely the land of opportunities. It’s also a place that rewards ambition and hard work, sometimes in ways that are not exactly good. Most people that I have come across in universities are quite accepting of the diverse students coming in from around the world. It’s quite competitive but you also get to learn from people who have been pioneers in their areas.

Siddhesh recently finished his second Masters in Global Health (surgical sciences) at the Duke Global Health Institute, Durham. He's hoping to start a PhD. You can read more about Siddhesh and what he’s achieved so far in our Postgrad Awards interview. He was Highly Commended in the Masters of the Year category.




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Last updated: 25 July 2022