The ‘American’ life: In the eyes of an international student

by Abhisek Dey, Computer Engineering MS Student 

What is the American life? I used to think it was utopia on Earth – the ever illusive ‘good life’. The kind of place where you turn off the lights and wake up to a perfect morning where all your problems have magically disappeared. Wading through the deceptively clear waters of a semester here has led me to realize how wrong I was. Stick around till the end while I describe an intriguing process of self-discovery and introspection.

It was on a freakishly cold day when I arrived in the land of the free and home of the brave. Being used to the other extreme of the temperature scale it was a surreal experience for someone who had never seen snow before. A 5 minute wait for a cab out in the open to take me to my apartment felt like ages. But I was still completely oblivious to what was in store for me. My heart kept telling me that the proverbial bling life was still to come.

Reaching my apartment, I was excited to meet the new roommates with whom I would be spending the winter with. I was starving after an exhausting journey but they said it would be another couple hours before food would be made. Without knowing how to get around town, I snacked on leftovers from my journey. Tired as I was, I had to clean up my room before I could get any kind of respite as the the guy from whom I subleased it left it in a mess. In a few days, reality dawned on me. Pampered since childhood with never having to worry about my own well-being for a second, I had to look after everything now. Some days were bearable while some days were not. Coming home weary-eyed and zoned out after a long day, you suddenly remember that it was your day to cook or do the dishes and you have an assignment due the next day which is still incomplete.

A picture worth a thousand words.

But as all dark clouds have a silver-lining, my story had one too. I had some of the most wonderful professors who guided me through every step of the way. Sometimes, we would engage in enriching conversations about my progress that not only helped me to focus on areas I was weak in but also develop a new perspective of the course. At times when I needed to blow off some steam, I would just drive off into the pristine countryside. Life is way different in smaller towns and ranches and feeling those vibes were just what I needed to recharge my batteries.

So, what exactly is the American life? Is it having all you ever wanted at your fingertips? Is it the peace of mind to never break a sweat about anything? To me it is the freedom to carve your own fate and be the master of your own destiny. The power to make your own choices and the undying spirit to see it through no matter the sacrifices. The unwavering grit to hold on to the values of mutual respect and inclusiveness despite the threats. As the Statue of Liberty says – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”.

 

 

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