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Explore the incredible journey of an international student's initial 100 days in the U.S., from settling in and academic excellence to leadership roles and cultural immersion.
Shoaib NaUpdated on: 25 Jan 2024
Excerpt by Shoaib Ahmad, Golden Gate University, MS in Project Management
I share a vivid account of my first 100 days as an international student in the United States. From the initial excitement of arrival to the challenges overcome and the milestones achieved, this journey has been a testament to adaptation, resilience, and personal growth.
Upon landing in the U.S., I stayed in a hotel – extended stay America, along with other international students with whom I networked while coming to the US. The week was filled with orientation sessions, meeting my professors, taking a lot of pictures at college, and forming initial friendships that hinted at the exciting journey ahead.
The search for permanent accommodation began. Relying on advice from college seniors, my friends and I explored various neighbourhoods, gaining insight into life in the U.S.
Read what Shoaib has to say about: Finding accommodation in US as an international student
In the third week, my friends and I finally found our footing, moving into a place we could call our own. The transition from temporary accommodation to our permanent residence was a significant step in our journey. Along with setting up our new home, we tackled essential tasks like opening bank accounts, which was crucial for our financial independence in the U.S. Additionally, we applied for state IDs, an important step in establishing our official presence and identity in our new country. This week was not just about creating a living space, but also about laying the foundational blocks for our lives as international students.
The fourth week marked a pivotal moment in my journey, as I focused on mastering the local transportation network. Familiarising myself with various modes of transit like BART, Caltrain, and ACE trains, as well as the bus system, was essential. This exploration was not just about getting from point A to point B; it was about gaining independence and confidence in navigating the complexities of a new country's transit system. Understanding safe travel practices was also a key aspect of this week, ensuring that I could move around securely in my new environment.
I dove into college life, balancing academics with cultural exploration. Attending local events, museums, clubs and exploring the city, I started to feel more at home in my new environment. Few of the places that I loved were Baker’s beach in San Francisco, half-moon bay beach in San Francisco and Temple Club in San Jose.
Networking became key. I joined clubs at college – Project Management Club, joined Project Management Institute organization where conferences related to project management takes place, attended conferences like Productcon – a product management conference, volunteered for pybay – a python conference and participated in college events, expanding my social circle, and integrating more into campus life. Also attended for a couple of career fairs just to get an idea of how recruitments happen at these career fairs.
Also read Visa journey of Shoaib from India to US
I ventured further into the city, discovering its diverse culture and lifestyles. These experiences enriched my understanding of American society. Volunteering for conferences such as the APEC conference that happened in San Francisco.
Launching a YouTube channel, I began documenting and sharing my experiences in the U.S., connecting with others through my adventures.
Midterms brought a hectic but rewarding schedule, teaching me the importance of balancing studies, social life, and personal projects.
I was elected as the Vice President of Education and Secretary in the student government, a role that offered me a chance to develop leadership skills and contribute to the campus community.
In my new role, I initiated various student programs, aiming to enhance student life on campus and address their needs. I organized events like Connect with Provost, Diwali event at the campus, and break before break event at college.
Focusing on major projects and assignments, I collaborated with classmates, learning from their diverse perspectives and approaches.
This week was a period of reflection, recognizing the personal and academic growth I had achieved since arriving in the U.S. Filled with gratitude as I was comfortable settling in US.
As finals approached, I focused on my studies while also planning for the challenges and opportunities in the coming months. Being able to achieve a 4.0 GPA in my first semester score 100% was a very exciting achievement with respect to academics.
With the semester nearing its end, I reflected on my journey so far. The challenges I faced like searching for accommodation, transportation, managing funds and overcoming them, shaped me into a more confident and capable individual. Looking forward, I was eager to embrace the next phase of my academic journey, filled with new experiences and opportunities for growth.
Conclusion: A Tale of Adaptation and Achievement
My first 15 weeks in the U.S. have been a profound journey of adaptation, learning, and personal development. From securing a home and navigating a new cultural landscape to taking on leadership roles and excelling academically, this experience has been a testament to the resilience and determination of an international student. As I look to the future, I am excited and ready for the next chapter of this adventure.
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