Friday, January 30, 2009

Penn State? Isnt it in South India?

August 2006 ( I dont remember the exact date and I wont even try try to remember it) ; After officially being accepted in this program, me and my mom came home in the evening with our raincoats and umbrellas dripping wet thanks to the ruthlessness of the Indian rain gods, yet more happy and satisfied than we had been in months, perhaps years. After going through the extreme torture that is the 12th grade and its board exams and various entrance tests that are the hallmark of the Indian education system, this was a day to celebrate indeed.
India has a different education system to the U.S of A and a student going through the formative years through 10th till 12th grade requires a mental and physical strength of superhuman levels. Generally kids opt for either one of 3 routes - Engineering , Medicine and Commerce. Arts forms a growing but woefully small minority. After graduating from school in 10th grade, we have to go through 2 years of junior college where we choose our broad academic area of study in either science, commerce or arts. All this sounds simple enough (so far) and it really is, at least on the surface. A normal child does not make this decision based on his own interest in most cases. There are a thousand things to consider, and it is enough to make one mental, certainly in my case. My dad was one of the best doctors before he passed away, and my entire family had been on my case to follow his legacy..'Son you are a natural doctor, take up science' ...another one said ' Beta! (son), I looked at your horoscope and theres simply gold written for u in commerce, go for it!, go for science or arts if you want to, but dont blame me if you end up losing everything and going bankrupt and begging on the streets in 2 months' ...clearly this was getting out of hand. Personally I wanted to pursue Arts, but there wasnt really any future in it anyway...ended up taking science in my local college. Mom happy, another aunt not so happy, fortune teller really not happy, but who cares? I was happy..all my friends were here, the area was great, the college was great, I enjoyed it. Then came 12th grade.
12th grade means board exams- HSC (Higher secondary school certificate), and various CETs (common entrance tests) to apply to engineering and medical colleges in the country. For the smart kids there is IIT-JEE ( the entrance exam to the most elite university in India - The Indian Institute of Technology). As if these tests werent good enough, the rotten cherry on top is the reservation quota, which is where politics and corruption make their way in the education system and manipulate the population and divide it based on caste and religion. A 'general' category student (one who is of the majority religion and caste) has less than 5% of the total number of seats in the college to choose from..everyone else gets to pick and choose first. Knowing that its indeed a very steep (concave even!) mountain to climb, students cannot rely on junior colleges with their poorly experienced and even more poorly paid faculty to prepare them adequately for the many D-days. The answer : Professional tutoring classes.
12 months and about 100000 rupees later, I was convinced that I should have rather gone to the Himalayas and meditated on a glacier. Dont get me wrong, I wasnt doing badly. This whole process however was frustrating me more and more every single day. I was giving exam after exam, not knowing whether the political scenario might suddenly change and and I wouldnt be able to get in a nice decent engineering college at all. All my batchmates were going through the same thing, and our professors constantly reminded us the importance of scoring not less than 95%...yea right! Not only does the grading system and exam pattern make this extremely difficult, but the fear of NOT getting in was making me hell nervous! Somehow I got through it all and by the end of May it was done...or was it?
Almost a month later (during which I at least got to enjoy the soccer world cup) the results were out, and although I didnt do badly, I still wasnt India's brightest Kid. Scorecard in hand , then came the final task of applying to all the colleges. I wont get much into the way this works now, but in a nutshell its like a lottery. Its mostly down to sheer luck. I , very obviously wasnt very happy at this, but knowing that there wasnt another option, had to deal with it.
I accidently discovered this course while on one of my rounds at Vidyalankar college to enquire about their engineering program seats availability. I saw it, knew this was it, and jumped at it. Asked mom, got her approval, asked my seniors and cousins who were Penn State alumni, and made the decision. PENN STATE! woooooooohooooo, away from this quicksand that is the Indian education one of the best universities in the world!!
Now you know why me and mom were so happy that day...... came home dripping wet, I decided to call up one of my best friends and tell him about this news.....Picked up the phone and dialed..' Hello? Is Prasad there? I have some news..hey Prasad! Im going to Pennstate!! Isnt that cool? '
Prasad: " Wow dude! that IS cool....Isnt Penn in a south indian state? You will have to appear for their CET though, you ready? "
Me: ........................... *blank with anger and frustration* !@#!$@!#$!#W$

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Namaste, PSY!

Hello everyone! Its such a big relief to finally get on this blog at last! I cant believe its been almost half a year since I hopped on a plane to come here! Knowing that I would be a Penn Stater almost 2 years ago and then waiting for that time to come and then waiting some a nutshell it wasnt a short period of time. But it was worth it. Not only did I have the best time of my life In Vidyalankar (my college back home), but the Penn State experience has been just as wonderful.
Before coming here, there was so much of a ruckus surrounding my departure. Do this, do that, DONT do that, etc. etc. etc. America is a strange country son!, be veeeeeery careful, dont drive and drink! Yes with tons of baggage and even more tons of advice on my shoulders, I came here..leaving all my dearest friends, the love of my life and most importantly , my mother back in India. As soon as the plane took off it hit me hard, I wasnt going to see my mother soon for at least a year or more. The jokes were forgotten, this was chance to either make it or break it! 2 years of hard work, 2 years of friendships, 2 years of watching my mom run around Mumbai getting all my papers in order, 2 years all directed towards one thing....
Shantanu Rajadhyaksha : undergraduate student of the Pennsylvania State University
My chance to make it


Happy Tuesday everyone!

This is my first official blog post, and I'm using it to simply alert you all to some changes in the blog.

Jess Olan graduated (yay Jess!) and we miss her terribly already...but I'm sure she'll be around. But since she's no longer with us, we're adding a new blogger, and I hope you all are as excited as I am to meet him!

His name is Shantanu Rajadhyaksha, and he is an international student from India. It will be awesome to be able to get such a different perspective on Penn State York.

As a side note, spring is coming quickly, and if you find yourself with any questions about admissions, applying to college, or are interested in visiting Penn State York, please don't hesitate to call!



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wheelz of Fire

I attended my first formal campus event tonight - it was hosted by my CA (community assistant) at Wheelz of Fire a local roller skating rink. I met two Penn Stater's who seem interesting - more on them later perhaps from future campus events. More importantly, I found out that there is in fact a local rink with inline hockey! Unfortunately, they don't have a website so I didn't find it before. Also got invited to join a speed skating team - I probably am turning down that offer but pickup hockey sounds awesome!

I played for about six years at a local rink which has since shut down. I haven't played for three years now, so I'm going to get killed but should be fun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First week

It's now Wednesday night as I finish writing this, so I have had all of my classes at least once. I'm definitely dreading my honors seminar the most - each professor who teaches it personalizes the course to their field of study - Dr. Jastor is interested in Renaissance England...Shakespeare. She has a really great energy though and is totally upbeat about it which is definitely a benefit. We're going to be taking a trip to The American Shakespeare Center in Blackfriars' Theatre in Staunton, VA to see the various pieces we are studying performed live. That sounds like it should be fun and really help in appreciating the material.

I'll keep you updated on other classes more so once we really get into them. Here's a short insight though.

Accounting - not really a course I'm interested in but a core requirement for a Business Administration minor. I still haven't gotten the textbook from the bookstore - I ordered it in mid-December. =/ Apparently a number of instructors have had trouble with PSH's Bookstore

Public Administration - The professor seems pretty laid back and really interested in facilitating class discussion which is great. He doesn't seem to believe law school is worthwhile, so we have a bit of a disagreement about that.

Civil Liberties and Due Process - better than I imagined since this is my passion. Dr. Woessner is also my academic adviser, and that is certainly a plus. Seems like it will be a whole lot of work though and a rather difficult course overall.

English - this course seems like it will be another that takes a lot of work. We haven't really gotten into depth with anything yet though so stay tuned next week or so.

Energy and the Environment - A pretty easy science credit from the looks of it. Considering how much the idea was thrown around during the election I really hope to cover "clean" coal.

Public Policy Analysis - The professor is the head of the Public Policy program and the Harrisburg semester program; I am hoping to find something in the legal field for an internship to participate in that which means working with Dr. Nechemias The course is writing intensive which means a fair bit of extra work, but I think it should be interesting.

I am really thankful to be done with gen eds after this semester.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Move in on Friday

Sheesh the holiday break went way too quickly. I'm ready for a bit of structure for sure, but I'm pretty stressed right now with packing everything up and redoing lists I've been making for the past few months on what I want/need. I have the list of my roomates, but I haven't e-mailed them yet. At this point I think I'll just wait to meet them. Doubtlessly some pretty cool folks.

One thing that has me stressed is that the east shore YMCA can't decide whether they're hosting karate or judo classes on Tuesday/Thur nights... The website contradicts itself. I'm interested in judo and don't really want to do karate. Ah well guess I'll go for one class and find out. Otherwise I hope to get involved with the learning center up there, the model UN, and anything pre-law related.

Books still haven't come - which rather defeats the purpose of ordering them two months early and having them shipped to my house. Hopefully I can call the bookstore and have them hold them up there instead *tacks another note onto the to-do list*

I'll definitely keep you guys filled in on how it goes, but I'm too stressed to think of much else right this second.