After 3 years of hard work, out of which 1 year was spent just to convince my family to let me do this, I could come to the US for my undergraduate studies.
I grew up in a city called Nashik in India. Growing up, I had no idea about the concept of study abroad. I did not know that a student like myself can pursue undergraduate education in the United States. When I started high school, I researched a little bit about colleges and came across this opportunity – study abroad in the United States. As I read more and more about it, I became more interested, and then one night, I took the decision – I want to complete my higher education abroad, in this magical place, called the United States of America.
After convincing my family to let me do this, I persevered, completed my entrance tests, applied, and received admission offers from various universities. One university, in particular, caught my attention – Kansas State University. As I read about the university, its culture, and the welcoming atmosphere for international students at K-State, I became more and more interested. After a brief meeting with the recruiter from K-State in Mumbai, I chose to attend Kansas State University.
One of the most important reasons I chose to study in the US was the liberty that students have on campuses in the US to get involved. I knew that US universities have numerous clubs and organizations that students can get involved with during their time on-campus. Getting involved on campus helps build crucial skills such as leadership skills, management skills, organizational skills, and communication skills. Being involved in clubs on campus allows students to meet different students on campus, thus building intercultural communication skills and improving cultural competency.
When I finalized my plan to attend college in the United States, I made a decision. I decided that I will get involved in numerous organizations on campus no matter what and make a long-lasting impact at my university. When I arrived at K-State, I did just that. In my three years at K-State, I got involved in around half a dozen different organizations and held over a dozen different executive positions in these organizations.
One of my most significant achievements has been coming to K-State and getting involved with the student government. Being able to represent international students’ voices firmly in front of the university administration and experiencing the life of serving the public was like a dream come true moment for me. That one experience in student government taught me more about servant leadership than anything else in my life. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I received from getting involved in the student government.
Currently, along with my classes, I am involved on campus as the International Affairs Director in student government, President of SPICMACAY KSU, Director of PR and Outreach for K-State Blue Key Honors Society, Student Member of the K-State Student Alumni Board and the Union Governing Board, and I am also a columnist for my university’s newspaper – the Kansas State Collegian.
My involvement on campus introduced me to numerous aspects of leadership and made me a better person. My communication skills improved drastically, and I became more and more aware of the people around me. I learned extensively about diversity, equity, and inclusion, which made me an outspoken activist for promoting unity in diversity on my university’s campus. My cultural competency and intercultural communication skills are improving, and I hope to be better at them throughout my lifetime. I learned how to think altruistically for everyone around me and serve people selflessly.
All my involvement on my university campus also helped me find an internship, and the skills I learned benefited me greatly at work. Being able to communicate with people from different backgrounds effectively was a plus at my workplace. The organizational and management skills I learned from my various involvements helped me work as an analyst. Being able to listen more, speak less in meetings, and taking all viewpoints into consideration truly helped me in my professional working environment, especially during my team meetings.
I was able to present myself and my projects better and make some great connections at my workplace.
Overall, getting heavily involved at my university was the most beneficial and satisfying experience. The amount of real-life skills I learned outside the classroom has made me more knowledgeable. My campus involvement opened my mind to new possibilities and made me a more inclusive individual.
My tip for all international students would be – seize every opportunity that you get! Get involved, give public speeches, participate in different events. The more you get involved, the more people you will meet, and the more you will learn. We have the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership skills and build upon them and become the leaders of the future. So seize this opportunity as you go! Get involved in everything you have dreamed of doing! Take that first step and work your way up. It is truly a once in a lifetime amazing experience.
To quote Barbara Bush, “Believe in something bigger than yourself… get involved in the big ideas of your time.”
By Vedant D Kulkarni