A Bangladeshi Girl’s Perspective on Studying and Living in the US

Imagine you are lying on a hillock upside down witnessing the show of beauty the sky has put up for you. You close your eyes and reflect back on the past few months — learning to play electric guitar, speaking broken Spanish, traveling to newer cities, empathizing with strangers, exploring yourself. You have been rowing your boat in the ocean of opportunities. You are breathing freedom. Witnessing the diversity Almighty has blessed our Earth with, you are finding yourself. That’s what life in the US looks like….well, from a certain perspective. Let me break it down for you.

Let’s talk about the biggest concern of we, students — ‘Academics’. In terms of academics, the US has been heaven to me. A well-designed curriculum that gives you a headstart in career preparation, caring professors, friendly peers & mentors, a collaborative environment, hundreds of useful resources, and helping hands make it hard not to stay motivated in academics. What makes this country more appealing for higher education is the career opportunities. Finding myself a summer research opportunity as an electrical engineering major freshman had been an overwhelming concern for me from the beginning of my semester. When I got my first summer research in a post-grad project just by emailing the professor, I once again realized the meaning of being in the land of opportunities.

One of the most exciting things about university life is social life. The biggest perk of living in a new place is that you can be anyone you want. You can be the craziest extrovert or the calmest introvert or the coolest ambivert – it’s all your choice. No matter what you choose to be you will find your people to thrive in at some point. For me, it was hard in the beginning but it got better eventually. Which transition is easy anyway?

What about food? I’ll be brutally honest here. The purpose of us getting colonized by the west was initiated by the trade of spices. Though they did take spices from us, they never learned how to use them in food. Irony right? If you are a person with deshi tastebuds like me, you will definitely curse your cafeteria cook at some point. Local Asian restaurants are there to save you. Don’t worry.

Some questions might pop up in your mind about religious life and safety. How do I maintain my religion in an Islamophobic place like the US? Do I face any hate as a hijabi Muslim girl? What about finding halal food? Is it a safe place to live as a girl? The people I have met so far were all very respectful and open-minded. I personally never faced any hindrance or hate from them for maintaining my religion, be it fasting-praying or wearing hijab. About halal food, I struggled a bit in the beginning but connecting with other Muslim students and locals made it easier. Regarding safety, it’s a bit shameful to say that I feel safer in a foreign land than in my own country. Though downtown Miami becomes a bit daunting at late night, I never felt unsafe in the area I live.

Now let’s talk about mental health. It’s common for us to feel lost or homesick at times. Talking to family or friends back in Bangladesh feels the void for a while.

Everything great comes with a certain price. The only way to make all these hardships worthy of this cost is to live our life to the fullest.

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