Living 8431 Miles Away From Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“RIT Admission Decision” read the email on my phone and I started hearing my own heartbeat which was thumping against my chest in anticipation of some good news. After the longest 5 seconds of my life I see the word Congratulations in the email and I was overcome with joy at that moment. I spent the next few months listening to suggestions from friends and family about the things I need to be packing and so I did, with bags packed full of spices, clothes and every possible article I would need to start my life in the land of opportunities. It took a whopping twenty-six hour flight journey with multiple stops in London and JFK before I finally got to Rochester, which was going to be my home for the next couple of years.

The transition of my life from India to the USA was a rather interesting one because all the knowledge from watching TV Shows like Friends or Full House never really came to my aid in navigating through the experiences I had at RIT. The three biggest transition phases that I went through are food, culture, and school. Growing up, I loved different cuisines. As someone who loves cooking I was blown away with the choices we had in the US – Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, and every possible chain that I heard about were my restaurant choices in the beginning. Later, thanks to Yelp and my friends, I started tasting different food like pho, ramen, and pollo guisado. A year later I am still delighted by the wonderful desserts and different dishes that I try on a regular basis. But, no matter what I come from the land of spices so I miss the spicy authentic Indian food.

Coming to the next biggest transition was the obvious cultural difference that I anticipated and experienced. I made friends at my different work places within RIT and I started hanging out with people from America. They were always welcoming and made me feel that they wanted me here which made me feel very happy and helped me get over my homesickness. I have a bunch of people who are a huge part of my life right now that have come into my life after my move to the United States and I just call them my American family. The Rochester community in particular is warm and I loved the way people greet each other or maybe just smile which is very helpful when you are having a really stressful day.

Finally, the school life in USA is completely different from what I experienced in India. The coursework is pretty intensive filled with tons of homework, quizzes and exams which kind of overwhelmed me in the beginning. But today after finishing a couple of semesters at RIT and interning over the summer I am happy to go through a rigorous coursework which has prepared me to face any technical challenges at work or in my research. I spend my time reading research papers or talking to peers about new advancements in my field which help me in chalking a better path for my future. The transitions were tough but very needed and I have wonderful people around me at RIT to thank for the support. Despite the fact that I miss home and family every single moment I believe this country which is giving me an opportunity to grow professionally and personally has become my second home. But as the wonderful poet Maya Angelou says “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”

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