Thursday, December 26, 2013

Moving 8,000 Miles, Going to College, and Becoming an Adult

Participating in the International Roundtable with my partner, Joseph Sengeh ‘16.
Moving away from home was one of the most difficult things I've had to do in my life. For some people it was easy. They were already independent and couldn't wait to explore college life. I was excited for college, but when I got there I felt so homesick that I couldn't understand what had spurred me to go to college abroad in the first place. Even though I was excited for all the offerings of college, I never realized that transitioning into college life would be so hard for me.

Going to college in the U.S. is different from going to college elsewhere in the world. You are expected to become independent and act like an adult even if you don't feel like one. Everyone treats you like one. The prospect of studying in the U.S. scared me. However, my innate desire to move back to the U.S., meet a new crop of people, and get away from India spurred me to apply to Macalester and some other great schools.

Somehow, in the process I boldly made up my mind that I wanted to take the plunge. I was hesitant at first. My parents were too. Was I really up to the challenge of moving from one continent to another, mature enough to handle the stresses of such a move as a young adult? At the time, I didn't think I was ready for the experience. Looking back on it however, coming to the U.S. has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Making my first snowman with friends at the start of spring semester.
Going into my first year I was scared. I was expected to talk to other people and fend for myself, something that I'd never previously been expected to do. I was a shy kid in high school, which didn't help me in the least. A family friend I had only known for two months gave me the greatest advice ever. She told me very bluntly that I needed to make a solid effort at trying to meet new people. Sometimes, the harshest advice is also the best. Slowly  I loosened up, felt more confident about myself, and met some amazing people.

Today, I'm a very different person: outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic, and excited to meet new people. I've heard people say that college can change your life forever. I never really believed them until I went through the experience myself. I am now more comfortable with myself than I have ever been. And I am tremendously grateful for the experience.

Everything I experienced my first semester was tough but many of those same things helped get me through the semesters that followed: my study group for chemistry and biology; being a global ambassador for Macalester; celebrating the Indian festival of Diwali with my friends; making my first snowman; and participating in the International Roundtable as a student leader. There are so many small things that have shaped my experience here at Macalester—far too many to list here. 
Celebrating the Indian Festival of Diwali with friends

When I give presentations in India to high school students considering college at Macalester or elsewhere in the U.S., my advice is this: Sometimes taking the plunge and leaving a lot of experience to fate helps. Exhaustively planning out every detail of your life will never reap any fruitful benefits and won't allow for any spontaneity or change. Everyone goes through a tough time getting used to college, and nothing ever comes easy.  I've changed tremendously over the last year and I'm happier because of it. A lot of people have told me that the U.S. has done me good. I concur with them a 100 percent.

- Shruthi Kamisetty