College visit on the first day of college

Last Saturday, we woke up at 4 am and started from home towards Poughkeepsie, New York at 5:15 when the sun was still wrapped in a dark grey blanket. Our destination was Vassar College, a small liberal arts college in the midst of the Catskill mountains. Oishi, a junior, was excited about visiting colleges but anticipative about going far away from home and getting lost in big city colleges. To ease her into the process of college selection, we chose a small college not too far from home.

I thought the information session would be at 8:30 am, followed by a campus tour. But when we reached there, we found out the first tour was at 9:30 am followed by an information session at 12 pm. Since it was a very nice day, we walked around a bit and finally rolled into the admissions office, full of anticipation for the tour.

A bubbly and enthusiastic junior gave an informative tour of the campus. It was great to see Oishi taking notes and asking questions while walking. After the information session, we had lunch at the school and started towards home.

On my way back, I suddenly realized how smooth the college visit process was for the both of us and couldn’t help but compare this day with the first few days of my college life since the first time I truly visited a college (besides the admission day) was the day I started college in India. Coming from a very small town with one nameless road for public transport, when I started college in Kolkata, a behemoth compared to my hometown Hindustan Cables Limited, I was overwhelmed by the number of buses, routes and roads. Since I lived in a ladies hostel that was far away from the college, Baba showed me bus#33, a double-decker, which would take me from the college to my ladies hostel and back. He and I did a practice ride from the college to the hostel. Then he left for my hometown and I was left alone in a big city to find my way. In a couple of months, when Baba came to visit me, I told him that I have discovered three more bus routes back and forth from my college. He looked at me and said “I knew you would.”

So, last week when I told my parents that we were going to visit a college, they asked in chorus, “You have already selected her college? But she is only in 11th grade!” I said “No, Ma, I am taking her for a visit to see whether the college and its surroundings would be a good fit for her. Nothing has been selected yet.” There was a complete silence and I understood how difficult it was for them to understand the college selection process more than two decades later in a foreign country.

Sharmistha’s Book

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Sharmistha Das

Sharmistha Das, an Indian immigrant engineer and entrepreneur, is the author of "From Hindustan Cables Limited - Journey of a Small-Town Indian Immigrant Woman". Every South Asian woman who has immigrated to America will identify with the adventurous journey of Sharmistha Das. Born in a small rural company town of Hindustan Cables Limited in Bengal, India, Sharmistha grew up with her brother, mother and father in a simple home without running water or furniture, but with a great amount of love. Supported by her parents, she left her hometown for Kolkata and became the first female engineer from her community. After her marriage, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand and finally to America, the land of opportunity and heartache. While working and bringing up her daughter, she got her Masters in Business Administration and started her own business. Unthinkable for a girl from Hindustan Cables, she got divorced in 2012 and adapted to a new life as a single woman and as a single mother. Sharmistha’s story will inspire any women to dare to live her dreams.

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