I was 13 years old when I first found out about the concept of “studying abroad.”
I had no idea that an individual could complete their higher education outside of India. The more I read about it, the more apparent it became that I wanted to study abroad.
The country I chose to explore was this magical place: the United States of America.
America is the nation that is shown to us as the beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who have come before, just like me. There are multiple reasons why international students like myself choose to study in America, but here are just a few.
Freedom and opportunity
I belong to a typical middle class family in India. My family consists of my parents, my sister and my grandmother. As the younger child, I was unruly and rebellious to get what I wanted. I think that’s how I landed my chance to study in America.
My father was born in a small town in India and grew up moving from place to place due to my grandfather’s job. With hard work, discipline and dedication, my father was able to study in a good college in India and get a job in the private sector.
My mother was brought up in Mumbai, India, and similar to my father, she studied hard and was able to complete her degree in microbiology. When my sister and I were born, my parents ensured that we got everything we wanted and needed. They had a dream that their children would receive the best education in the world and achieve excellence and success.
When I shared the news that I wanted to study abroad, after careful researching, my parents supported me 100 percent. The reason for their support is that my parents share an abiding faith in the opportunities that this nation can provide to their son.
My parents knew that in America, unlike India, their son won’t be judged by his last name, caste or religion. They knew their son would have incredible freedom to explore himself in America.
My parents saw my perseverance to study in America and supported me throughout the process, and I still remember how joyful they were when I received my acceptance and scholarship to study at Kansas State University. Coming to America is my greatest achievement and the best decision that I have made in my life.
Quality of education
There were multiple reasons why I chose to study in America. Firstly, it was the quality of education in the U.S.
American education is recognized globally. Thirty of the top 100 universities in the world are present in the U.S.
The freedom to research, innovate and become an entrepreneur that is present in the U.S is not as readily available anywhere else in the world. As a person who sees himself becoming an entrepreneur soon, coming to America was a big step toward my professional career.
Within two weeks of classes having started, I had already met a research professor and received a chance to do some undergraduate research for one semester. I am sure that I would not have received an opportunity like this one so quickly back home.
Along with that, the flexibility in college education in the U.S. that allows students to get involved on campus is unparalleled. In my second semester, I was able to get involved with numerous organizations and activities on campus, including the Student Governing Association. My involvement opened my mind to more on-campus diversity, and it benefitted me marvelously. American education provides us with limitless possibilities upon graduation.
Secondly, the reason I chose America was for the global diversity that exists here. K-State is home to 1,649 international students that represent more than 100 different countries from around the world, and each international student at K-State represents a different culture.
All across the U.S., nearly one million international students show their culture, and that is the beauty of diversity that exists in America. This diversity is not available in my home country. India has a marvelous collection of individuals that follow different faiths and religions; however, there is little to no international diversity.
When I arrived in America, the very first day of my orientation, I met students from all around the world. Each student represented a new culture and tradition. That one day taught me so much about global affairs and globalization that not even my economics classes could share.
Making friends from all around the world opened my eyes to global diversity, and my mind was uplifted. I became increasingly unprejudiced and tolerant of opposing views.
As an Indian, one of my greatest achievements was that I became best friends with a lot of students from Pakistan. This example of friendship could be a source of future peace and unity between our two warring nations.
Student support groups
Thirdly, a reason I chose to study in the U.S. was the excellent support facilities that are present in American universities.
K-State has numerous support groups and organizations that help with financial, mental and physical counseling. There are facilities for parental counseling, family counseling and all sorts of relationship counselors.
There is the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, or CARE, that provides services and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment. Some organizations assist LGBTQ students on campus and help them feel more secure and productive in their surroundings.
Availability of such facilities on campus generates a warm feeling of affection for the students and demonstrates the commitment of the administration to students’ welfare and wellbeing.
These facilities, unfortunately, are unavailable at a majority of the universities outside the U.S. There are nations around the world where people believe that mental health is not very important and that depression is a weakness. At places like these, receiving mental health services is extremely difficult, let alone receiving help for sexual or domestic abuse.
Therefore, for the betterment of my mental and physical health and wellbeing, I decided to attend college in America. The caring atmosphere that is present here is the reason why multiple international students choose to attend college here.
Fourthly, America is considered to be a leader in innovation and invention. The U.S. is home to companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Dell, HP and many more that are considered to be global leaders of technology. The presence of such technology-rich surroundings has integrated advanced technologies in classrooms.
In all my classes, we are taught using PowerPoint presentations. Almost all of my homework and assignments need to be submitted online. Three out of five subjects that I am taking this semester have online exams that I can take sitting on my bed or in a coffee shop. I work on projects with my teammates using online documents and writing platforms.
These facilities are unavailable back home. In my home country, we are still taught using a blackboard and chalk, and we have to take notes in a notebook (one cannot use a laptop in classrooms as it can be “distracting”). You have to be physically present everywhere for submissions of assignments and examinations.
Similarly, in other countries across the world, modern teaching technologies do not exist. There are some countries where there are no classrooms or any sort of infrastructure to construct a school. In comparison, America is far ahead in terms of educational foundations.
Living a college life
Lastly, America offers the most unique campus life experience. Attending college in America is like having a full-time job. Personally, I leave my apartment somewhere between 8 to 9 a.m. every morning, and I do not return till late in the evening. On the days when we have SGA meetings, I do not return home till late at night. I have classes, work and club meetings almost every day.
Along with these activities, there are so many more opportunities to get involved. Extracurricular activities are valued on college campuses in America. It is essential for one to be active on campus because it helps develop one’s personality. Also, in American colleges, you do not need to have a college major decided right away, and you have the freedom to change your majors, add another major or declare a minor. These facilities are not readily available in other countries. Back home, one has to decide their major in high school, there is no freedom to change majors and minors are seldom available and only in specific colleges.
Along with all of this, the American social life is very different. From my experience, Americans are very open and friendly to other people. Also, people in America are more straightforward, and you can pick up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. Such an open social life is not present at other places.
Just like students, professors are very friendly as well, and they are ready to help you and answer any queries you may have at any time of the day. Being in college has taught me how to pay taxes, make a budget, plan my future, manage my time and many more things. Overall, it is a fantastic experience, and I am happy to be a part of it.
Studying abroad is a privilege that only a select few receive. I am entirely aware of this fact and the responsibility that lies on my shoulders, but I am confident that my study abroad experience in America will benefit me remarkably in the near future.
Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a sophomore in business administration. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.