Moments for life! My first International trip to USA

Well, it’s been 2 months since I returned from the United States of America but it all still looks fresh as I sit down to put it in words! 🙂

It was about a year back that I learnt my plausible visit to the University at Buffalo (UB), NY and the news left me all afluttered! As much as I was excited for my first international travel to this beautiful country, my parents were equally nervous as I am known to be an over-pampered and not-so-independent girl (yea, majority including my parents think so :(). The most important thing for my travel was to get a passport! (I didn’t have one by then ;)). All the formalities for passport and visa were done within no time and I was all set to fly! The days passed by, and the excitement grew by leaps and bounds and it was just packing, packing and more packing. Finally, on June 7, 2013, I left my home at 1 AM with all the excitement and thrill. As the huge Boeing 777 was waiting for me, I bid adieu to friends and family. Within no time, I was sitting in my plane to get to my next humble abode for 2 months. As I lay down, enveloped with clouds, I suddenly realized that I am away from home for long 60 days leaving me nervous and anxious! But the very fact of freedom and independence shooed that feeling away! 😉 With a smooth continuous flight of 15 hours, rare did I know what was next in my kitty! As I sipped a cup of coffee at the large JFK airport, NY, it was announced that my connecting flight was cancelled due to bad weather. The next I got into my senses, I was running back and forth to get another flight and collect my baggage. I felt really low and disappointed to get another flight, 6 hours later and that too from a different airport. With all these glitches, finally I was standing in my apartment admiring my new room and the feeling of being in a new country altogether finally sinked in. Next was the big day, my first day at UB which was entirely a different experience.

The large campus at UB with breath-taking greens and multi-cultured people was difficult to capture in a frame. It took me nearly 2 hours to cover the whole campus. At UB, I got an opportunity to work in the Jacobs Management Centre (The word management sounds confusing but we worked in information and security! :)) under the esteemed guidance of Prof. Hejamadi Raghav Rao. Adapting to the new international setting was less of an issue, thanks to my project partner Rajarshi Chakraborty (PhD@UB) for making things easy (We had already met by then since he visited us at IIITD the previous month, lucky me!). Well, honestly there was no time to get comfortable since we had a deadline after 15 days :D. The work culture there was a little different than what is being followed in India. There were strict working hours from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM with usually free weekends. It was also different in a sense that in India we used to work together in lab (a noisy one! :D) and there I was given a separate room to work. Unfortunately, since it was a summer time, I missed meeting a lot of students in the university as most of them had gone to their native places. My research work was exciting and challenging and I enjoyed every bit of it it in the apt motivational ambience at UB. My project advisors, Prof. H.R. Rao in the US and PK, here in India, were a great support throughout. I learnt a lot of things at UB and had an opportunity of interacting with some great minds. I also got a chance to attend Western New York Cyber Security conference by ISecure, a conference for discussing the concerns arising in Information Security. Since the conference was near Niagara, I managed to get a quick short trip to the heavenly Niagara Falls. During the last week of my stay, Rajarshi offered me for a dinner at a Thai restaurant. Being a total vegetarian, I had a tough time selecting a dish for myself and end up having an eggplant (Brinjal, in simple terms, which I don’t eat in India :D). Quite an experience!

Apparently, this blog is incomplete without the mention of ‘masti’ and ‘mazaa’ I had in the US. I was lucky enough to have cousins there who helped in exploring cities like New York and Washington and visit some really beautiful places like Statue of Liberty, Madame Tassauds, Niagara Falls, Virginia beaches accompanied with loads and loads of shopping! I got a chance to witness the mind blowing fire cracker show on the Independence Day. I made new friends and did lots of chatting, dance and fun together. This trip also marked the beginning of my cooking skills (and end too for that matter :P), doing groceries and other regular stuff which I could have never imagined myself doing! 😀

Below is an image of me at Madame Tassauds with the waxed Big B! 😀
Overall, the experience was quite satisfying, both personally and professionally. I would like to thank my advisor PK and Prof. H.R Rao for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Looking forward to such exposures in life. Stay tuned! 🙂