Going to college in the US was nothing like I imagined it would be. The only impression I had of US colleges were from Hollywood movies that made it seem like very little work. But behind the scenes, the picture was a lot different. I had always thought that high school was the toughest it would get, but a year in college showed me how mistaken I was. With midterms and final papers and hundreds of pages to read every day, college was indeed stressful. But amidst all the stress and work, college was also full of social events and interesting people.

Most liberal arts colleges have pre-requirements that you need to fulfill in order to graduate. So even if you’re firmly determined on getting an engineering degree, you will have to survive through a few semesters of the Humanities and the Social Sciences. I spent my first semester trying to fulfill these requirements, taking classes that I “had” to take only to realize that I did not enjoy my classes at all. I learned later to take advantage of Shopping period: two weeks of shop-hopping around classes and trying them out. I took classes that were intriguing and not just those that seemed easy. Even before joining college, I had declared myself as an Economics major; not because I liked the subject, but merely because it seemed like a major that made the most sense and could land me a job. However, I had amazing economic professors in my first year and I immediately grew fond of the subject. It is also wise not to skip introductory classes. Although my ‘A’ in A Level Economic qualified me to skip to the Intermediate Economics class, most people suggested I take the Introductory class. This proved to be a shrewd piece of advice because my economics professor completed 2 years- worth of A Level Economics in a week! The level of academic rigor in college is indeed very different. An Ivy League is also intensely competitive.

Most people here are used to seeing A’s throughout high school but realize that they need to live with grades that are less than perfect. There were plenty of people who got enraged and upset over an A-.

College is an eclectic assortment of individuals. I got a chance to meet an accordion player, a former Miss Teen America, and even gypsies! Dining halls were places of stimulating discussion and debate. People always had profound insights into issues ranging from college classes to controversial global topics. There was a learning atmosphere present beyond the walls of a classroom. There is also no shortage of people you may find weird. Plenty of people asked me whether I had climbed the Everest, but there was one guy who asked me if I had to climb past any mountains in order to get out of the country! When I told him we had airports, he immediately assumed that the airport was located on top of a mountain.

You also meet a lot of interesting people through student organizations. The range of opportunities that college offers is beyond what you would ever imagine. We have a quidditch club, a dueler’s club and plenty of other secret societies that people yearn to join. Most organizations require people to undergo an induction process if they want to join it. This can include dressing up as Spongebob, posing as Miss America and giving a speech in front of the library, carrying around a huge toy unicorn for a week and many other bizarre deeds. I was almost abducted by two people dressed up as Pac man!

Going to college abroad is like a crash course on learning how to be dependent. From bank accounts to cellphone bills, I learned to handle issues that were normally what my Dad would take care of. It is an opportunity to grow and shoulder on responsibilities. College promises a lot of all-nighters and hundreds of pages to read every day; but it will also make sure that each day is an adventure of its own kind.