I completed my BTech degree in computer science (with a concentration on software engineering) from IIIT Dharwad and decided to pursue a Master’s degree from the Oregon State University in the US.
While heading abroad for studies was a childhood dream, it was the curriculum, alumni, faculty and college facilities that made me opt for a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the Oregon State University.
Getting admission in a foreign university is much more than just clearing Class 12 exams. I had to prepare for GRE and TOEFL in addition to my academics. Even though it was difficult for me to cope and focus on both parts, I managed to devote six hours every day to this. Since I lacked financial backing, I relied on self-study through various online courses, including videos on YouTube.
Being from a middle class family, I had heard that the United States is a better place to study and houses some of the biggest tech companies. Keeping this in mind, I started researching for the best universities, and ways of getting scholarships or loans. I applied for a study abroad loan from the UK-based Prodigy Finance, which doesn’t charge any collateral from students. I started researching for universities in least affordable states. I stumbled on Oregon State University, one of the most recognised universities on the West Coast with a strong CSE faculty.
Due to the Covid pandemic, the visa process was difficult, but, fortunately, offices began to open in March-end, and I was able to obtain a visa.
IIIT versus Oregon State University
When I received my acceptance letter from Oregon State University, I was overjoyed and decided to join, even though the varsity could not provide me accommodation and dining services. I will never forget my first day at the university — walking from one end of the campus to the other was like crossing towns on foot.
Academically, the main difference lies in the practical and theory ratio of the curriculum. At Oregon, the focus is on practical learning, whereas in India, the majority of the weightage was assigned to midterms and final exams. In Oregon, students are assessed on the basis of quizzes and weekly homework. Most courses don’t even have a final exam, and even if they do, the weightage is very low.
To make ends meet in the US, I worked with University Housing and dining services. Due to my academic score of second term, I also got funded as a graduate teaching assistant and my tuition fees was waived off by 90 per cent, and I also received a fixed monthly stipend of $1800.
Culture shock — expressing personality through fashion
India and the US are poles apart when it comes to street fashion. In the city I live in, people tend to express themselves through their clothing and that was something which caught my eye. Another thing I noticed here is that people prefer walking over taking public transportation.
What made my initial days in the US tad difficult were food, grocery shopping and managing finances. Since I had no job when I first moved here, managing expenses became difficult. However, after I started working with the University Housing and Dining Services, I was slowly able to manage rent and other expenses. I am still saving to pay off my loan early though.
Advice to students planning to study abroad
Studying abroad is not just about academics, it also introduces you to new people and cultures, and makes you independent. Staying miles away from your family teaches you to take care of household chores, manage finances, and most importantly, to believe in yourself.
Courtesy : The Indian Express