By Divya Geethakumari Anil
My journey into the United States of America was, like any Indian girl, filled with a lot of anxiety, excitement and, most of all, the fear of stepping into a new country. Unlike the girls who come here to pursue their higher education studies or married women who accompany their husbands, my story is a mixture of both.
Back in July 2014, when my marriage was arranged, I did not want to spend my life sitting idle, due to the fact that I was a working woman in India. But soon, I came to know that there would be many restrictions to continuing my work when I moved to the USA, where my future husband was already working as a software engineer.
It was then that I picked up “my kept-aside” dream of pursuing graduate studies. The entire process was challenging, and there were days when I felt my dream slipping away and that I had lost my confidence. Yet, all the time, it was my partner who did not let my confidence wash away in the tides of fear and who is now the pillar of my life.
The process began with continuous preparation to score well on international exams. Sending applications to multiple universities with a series of documents took almost eight months. In the midst of it all, I got married. After five days of marriage, I got a letter, an offer of admission, from California State University, Fullerton, and I cannot describe the happiness that surged through me. Almost all the split-second decisions that I have made in my life proved right, and accepting admission to Cal State Fullerton is among them.
I began my studies at CSUF in the spring 2016 semester. Now, in retrospect, I can see a much better version of myself. During this journey of 18 months, I have learned bountiful things, which I had not learned in the previous 25 years of my life. When my classes started, I had a fear of almost everything that I had to face. Whether it was to clarify a doubt with my professors, go to a place alone or find a new building on campus, I always wanted a friend to accompany me, in order to feel safe and confident. I felt that a change was inevitable, to do something on my own and explore my interest.
In July 2016, I approached Kiran George, coordinator of computer engineering, to find out whether I could do a project with him. He was willing to help, and he advised me to take a thesis rather than a project. I was quite doubtful, as I did not fully believe in my potential. After a few days of thoughtful…