Wednesday, 3 August 2016

What's going abroad for education like

So now that summer is here, and I don't have much to do, why not use this vacay time to write a post on this neglected blog! I just completed 6 (now 9; now 10; now 11) months of surviving in an entirely new country without my family. Having said that, I do miss home dearly, and I'd take up any chance to go back even if it was for a day, but no, I'd like to explore Boston for now (Now don't you laugh at that). I do plan to go around sometime *sigh* But for now, I'll spare you my sad story and write this post which I hope will be a good read!

So here we go.

Going abroad for education has its own set of highs and downfalls. And staying away from family during a sad period can be a tad depressing at times. But soon, when you find a good set of people, you don't really need to worry. You start seeing your sister, mother, father, grandma, etc in all the new people you meet. You miss all the yummy delicious dishes mom made for you, you miss how the only thing you were expected to do back then was concentrate on your studies. And now suddenly, you have a heavy coursework with numerous other adult-ish responsibilities like bills to be paid, grocery-shopping, working on-campus and what not! Juggling all those things can be stressful at times especially if you're good at procrastinating. But soon enough, you'll learn how to "adult" (I hope the day is close. Wait, don't adults procrastinate too?).
So below, I'm gonna list a few things which I feel encompass the whole "living abroad all by yourself" experience. Okay, it may not encompass it in entirety, I just wanted to use the word (Also, entirety).

To study? Or not to study? But how? 

Coursework. The biggest difference you'll have to deal with, once you're abroad. Everything is different. The way we were taught, the way we gave our exams, the way we studied for them. Everything. You actually need to devote time for studying, and follow your timetable. Just kidding. But you could. With all the new responsibilities that are accompanied with living on your own, you tend to be busy. So it's important to keep reminding yourself that you're here to study, and not on a vacation. Though you definitely need to do more than just studying. Like traveling, going out, etc. Because doing these will make life so much fun and less stressful. 


 So remember how your mother used to give you garma garam chai with breakfast before you left for school? Say bye-bye to that. I mean, you can still have your garam chai, but who's gonna make that for you? Yes, you. You have to get up extra early to cook food for the day. It's only when you start cooking for yourself, you'll know how much planning goes into cooking! You need to be up-to-date with your groceries. You sometimes need to forgo sleep and wake up a little more early to cook (Cruel, I know). Cooking requires a lot of patience, you know like they say good things come to those who wait. Also, once you start cooking for a while, you'll start finding it easier. Citing from my experience, cooking is so much more enjoyable when you have someone to cook with! (Shoutout to Ross!)
If you're staying along with your friends, you can set up cooking turns amongst each other, which makes cooking less of a routine.

Waking up scenes

If you're the kind of person who can wake up early in the morning on your own by setting up an alarm, you're good. But, if you're a deep sleeper and often need annoying harsh alarm tones or need somebody to call you a million times just to wake you up, you're doomed! Just kidding, you'd be good too. Except for the fact that your roommates won't really approve the harsh alarm tones if they have to sleep in late. You need to get enough sleep and get that circadian rhythm kicking, or else you'd find yourself running late for work, classes, whatever.

Handling finances

Back at your parents' home, you don't really have to worry about money related matters. When you're living in a different continent far away from them, you gotta look after your own finances. You set up your own limits based on how much you earn, spend, etc. IMO, handling my finances is tough initially if you have zero experience with it, but you'll eventually get the hang of it. You will realize that you gotta take up the responsibility and keep up with it, because if you don't, you'd be in deep trouble!

Paying bills

Closely linked to the above point. You have this new addition to your life. Suddenly, you have to pay to live. Food, water, rent, electricity, WiFi, basically every single thing!
If you work, all your hard earned money goes into paying all sorts of bills, and you at the end of the month, you just have enough quarters for laundry. Why should it be so expensive to live? Thank God, we aren't charged for O2 consumption. Man, can you imagine a world like that? Plant more trees, guys.

Work, work, work

So where do you get money to pay bills? You work for it. Though it's tough to get a decent on-campus job. You eventually get one. Since most of us did not really have to work for pocket-money back in India, it's a completely new experience. A good one for sure. A job is a job. Whether it's working at a fast-food shop or working as a TA. You work for it, it pays. I believe it makes you more independent. Since you know how much you work, you spend accordingly. All in all, it's a good experience.

Phew. That was the longest I've taken to complete a post. I wasn't even that busy. Anyway, it's done now. I'm going to be completing one complete year of staying abroad exactly 30 days from now. 
Time flies :)

I'm off. Have a good one peeps!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Boston v/s (Bombay) Mumbai (Part II)

Yay! So, I'm back.
Finals [check]
Plans for winter break [ ]

Yes, none. I'm just gonna stay at home, eat and sleep (so basically, get fat). And since I promised a part two, here it is.


Boston: People here don't judge you. You can be yourself at all times. You can do anything you want, unless it's illegal of course. Nobody tells you to be this way or that (Other than people back home maybe) It could also be called as indifference. Like nobody would bother if you laugh/shout/fall down.
One plus point is that you can step out in your Pjs and not worry about what people will think.

Mumbai: Nosy people everywhere. People here are more interested in what you do rather than minding their own business. Which brings us to the next point, staring.


Boston: It is considered RUDE to stare. Thank you humans, thank you. Goodbye to all those years of feeling conscious because you're being watched. (Am I exaggerating? Maybe)

Mumbai: Staring at random people is just as important as breathing. You cannot survive with it! Just ask the ladies in the train. Man! All they do is stare at you. And not just stare, they look you up and down. That's just plain irritating at times. And let me tell you, giving them a look back doesn't make them stop. It's as if you've participated in a staring competition, and you have no idea about it until you see a pair of eyes staring right at you.

Greeting people:

Boston: You might find strangers coming up to you and talking. If you're walking on the road, a passerby may give you a smile, nod or even ask you how you doing! (not the Joey style though). Greeting people is a big thing here. And it feels good when a random stranger wishes you good morning :)
This creeped me out big time initially. It still might! Also, questions like how you doing/how's it going, just mean Hi/Hello, and they don't actually want to know the story. That's actually very funny. I've had many instances when I've said good, how about you, and this person had already walked past!!

Mumbai: Well, random strangers might give you a smile once in a while. But that's not the same. And if you randomly smile at passersby, they might think you're a crazy person, and grimace instead. Though, sometimes the train ladies might strike up a conversation with you, and you could've a good talk. (I have no idea why I keep talking about train ladies)

Holding doors:

Boston: If you're passing through a door, and if you see someone walking right behind you, you keep the door open for them.

Mumbai: Bang it right on their face if you must. I've hardly seen people hold doors for strangers.

Weekends and Parties:

*I'm not a party person. But I guess, parties are so much more similar in both these countries*

Boston: Weekends are a big thing here. Especially if it's a long weekend. It's a big relief. And everyone usually has some plans for the weekends! I sleep. (Well, that's the best plan)

Mumbai: Free time? That's like a dream. We had college on weekends too. So, you know how we spent the weekends.


That's all I got for this post. Time to sleep. (Just kidding, NOT)

Have a good day :)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Boston v/s (Bombay) Mumbai (Part I)

So I decided that I'll write this post in parts because I'm taking too long to write just one. I started writing this one long back, and it had been lying stale in my drafts folder for over a month now. Procrastination. Anyway, so here's the first part. Enjoy. Hope you like it!


Aha! Hello everybody! Yay this is my first (now second) ever post since coming here! For people who don't know what I'm up-to, I'm at Boston, MA for pursuing further education! I arrived here just a fortnight ago, and I guess it'll be a month (Two months hah!) by the time I actually post the blog. Boston's being good so far. Soon I might not describe it using the same adjective! I do love winters though. Snow, Christmas, so much to look forward to.
So as you can make out from the title, I'm gonna compare Boston and Mumbai based on what I've noticed in the past 14 days. (soon 30 days or a year? Procrastination) I haven't seen much of Boston, but I noticed so many differences, some of them might be too random or useless to even give a thought to. That's just another way of saying I'm gonna talk about pigeons and other random things (Sorry about that :P). Bear with me. Okay, so here we go!

I. Commuting/ Transportation:

A. The cheapest and the most common way of transportation:
Irrelevant, but funny!

Boston: WALKING. Yes. People here, literally walk to every place. Since the day I arrived here, I've been walking to places. I spent all my jet-lag recovery time walking, though I did sleep for 12 hrs straight on the second day! Once you get on the road, you see people walk walk and walk. There are cars, buses, etc. on the roads, but maximum people walk or skateboard!

Mumbai (or in India basically): You got them Rickshaws! In India, you can just catch an auto rickshaw and travel! We also have tons of 2 wheelers zooming on the roads, which is so not the case at Boston. There are hardly any two wheelers here.

B. Traveling by the bus
People should start using the bus more often!

Boston: The buses in Boston have very few seats, and there's no conductor! You collect your ticket when you get on the bus from the driver!!!! And you aren't returned back the money just because they don't have a change. You can also purchase a ticket with your card (How cool is that?). The kind bus drivers wish you a good day, and ask you where you have to get down. All buses are air-conditioned. I travelled by the bus here just once, but it was the best bus experience I've ever had. Also, the buses here are always on time.

Mumbai: You have to be a wrestler to get on the bus, because they're always overflowing with people. The frequency of buses is less and they're almost never on time. You have to wait for hours and hours at the bus-stop to catch a bus. And when you actually get on the bus, you have to wait for a very long time to get your ticket. Buses have conductors who are responsible to sell tickets. Some conductors are sweet, some are not. And when I say not sweet, I mean evil. Before you even hand over money to the conductor, they bark out "sutte kadha!" (That's Marathi for 'tender exact change'). And if you don't do so, they give you the most frustrated expressions they can manage. Bus transport needs improvisations like increasing the frequency, punctuality so as to decrease the rush. Other than these few things, bus travel is quite cheap. And I used to quite love it, especially when I got window seats!

C. Cabs/ Taxis

Boston: You have so many options here. There's the traditional public cab, and private cab services like Lyft, Uber, etc. Most of them accept cards, so you don't have to worry about carrying money. Plus, cab drivers are so polite. My very first ride (from the airport) was in a Lyft cab. The cab driver greeted us, and talked to us on our entire ride to home. It felt so unlike the cab experiences I've had in Mumbai.

Mumbai: In this aspect, Mumbai is just at par with Boston. Though it's a bit more advanced in Boston, but pretty much the same.

D. Trains
Waiting for the train

Boston: (While I write this, I've already completed over 2 months here, so you know how good I'm at procrastination!) The trains here are way too awesome. They refer to the train as the "T". MBTA, the transport authority here, controls everything. Buses, trains, etc! Owning a Charlie card makes travel smooth. You just have to tap it and off you can go! I haven't had much of train traveling, but I did experience Khopoli-like crowd during one of my journeys! (Khopoli is a train station back in Maharashtra, India. The trains which travel to and fro from Khopoli are always overflowing with people) The only difference I would say is that you won't find people hanging outside train doors here! Train drivers wait to see if everybody has boarded, and the doors close, so people who like to swing outside doors stand no chance here. People don't walk on train tracks, and have to pay a heavy fine if they are caught crossing tracks.

Mumbai: Nothing could really beat traveling by trains in Mumbai! Though train travel isn't all that developed like it is here. Mumbai trains have the Smart cards, ATVM machines. Train travel is on it's way to becoming better. I have an entire post dedicated to train travel in Mumbai! Go check it out > Traveling by Local Trains. A really positive thing about Mumbai trains is that.. Oh chuck it, I can't think of anything. Just kidding. Traveling by trains is way too much fun, unless you're in a Khopoli train at the peak office hour time, of course.

E. Roads 

Boston: Boston has beautiful roads, which are regularly cleaned and well maintained. All roads have sidewalks and guess what! People actually use them! Pedestrians are given first priority, and cars wait for pedestrians to cross the road even if they have a green signal. How kind is that! Also, the funniest thing I've encountered after coming here is that while crossing a road, we have a habit of looking to the left. While here, it's completely opposite. Cars drive on the right side of the road. The vehicles have a left hand drive, unlike in India. All roads have signals, road signs which are visible and not faded.

Mumbai: Aah. The roads in Mumbai. Walking/ Driving on roads is nothing short of a hiking experience. The roads have such huge potholes like tortuous hilly routes! Okay, I'm exaggerating. But roads do need improvement because every monsoon, roads end up getting damaged.
Pedestrians walk on the road even when the roads have sidewalks. Crossing the road earns you a free Adrenaline rush! Because no vehicle wants to wait and let people cross. Vehicles hardly wait at red signals, why even expect them to wait at green? (unless they've run out of petrol) Who cares about the left side, right side? The road is all ours, and we can drive on any side we want. Not exaggerating here.

F. Google Maps*

Boston, Mumbai and anywhere else in the world :
The Google maps lady is insane! Sorry about that Google. She makes me take the longest route almost always. And keeps re-navigating the route. Maybe it's Google's conspiracy to keep people in good health, because it sure does make me walk a lot. Let me explain some more. I and a bunch of friends wanted to visit the Reflection pool. So, one fine evening, we all decided to go and finally have a look at it. Opened Google maps, searched for the location. The app said 30 minutes walk, off we went. Saw the reflection pool, clicked tons of photos. Now we decided we'll walk back home via a different route. Guess what! We just walked for about 5 minutes around the area, and saw our apartment street. Now just tell me Google maps, why do you do this!! Why would you make us walk for 30 odd minutes to get to a place which was just a 5 minutes walk from our place.

 *Okay, I admit that there's a possibility that Google maps doesn't work too well for me might be because of my inability to use it properly. But, it has fooled us into walking for hours for a 15 minutes route not just once, but trillions of times. And my friends would agree to that.


Number of times I've used the word Procrastination: You tell me!
Second part coming up soon!

Have a great day!