Transitioning to Life in Baltimore, an International Student’s Perspective

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Walking my final steps towards the airport entrance, amidst the chaos juggling in my mind, I try to direct my thoughts toward the checklist one last time.

Passport ✔

Ticket ✔

Handbag ✔

Sigh.

And the final head turn for a last glimpse of my family framed in my teary eyes, as they look at me with immaculate love and hope, trying their best to contain themselves behind those smiles. That was just the first of many difficult yet happy moments that I faced transitioning from the country known best to me in my deepest cells to the one that I had never visited before, yet dreamed of every day.

As an international student in Baltimore, everything I do here seems like a first, be it getting coffee at Starbucks or trying to cross roads with strict pedestrian rules. Two months into this city and I already feel like a changed person, changed for the better of course. And now that I am introspecting, the incredible process that brought about this change seems rather intriguing. From standing in the middle of the road with a confused face, looking for signs on the street to get somewhere, to now strutting across the city, anywhere, anytime, like I own it!

Getting comfortable with directions and becoming familiar with the streets made for an important transition in this whole process. While I couldn’t deny the major boost of confidence, there was a long way to go before I could claim I’m at home. There was still a long bridge to cross on the way to being comfortable and content in a new city full of strangers.

The gap is bridged usually by something we tend to take for granted for most of our lives—friends. The most natural conventions become the biggest challenges and you feel lost! Surprisingly, the cure to that is simpler than one would think. A mixture of positivity, pleasant vibes, welcoming nature blended with a smile and there it is—a perfect magnet to have the people around you interacting with you. And with that, before you know it, you’ve transitioned from being potentially shy to someone making bold initiatives and building relationships, making your life easier by the day.

This is exactly how I landed some great friends at Carey, coming from different parts of the world, sharing our experiences with each other and building mutually beneficial relationships during the collaborative exercises offered through the Summer Intensive program. While those interactions may have started with ice breakers or academic sessions, they sure gave me some wonderful friends to keep for a lifetime.

In the most definitive sense, knowing I’ve got someone to call up when I’m low, and celebrate with when I progress, is a bliss of its own kind. Soaking in cultural differences and having new experiences with friends broadens my sense of understanding the new environment, and I walked into my first class the first day of graduate school a lot better than I probably imagined. Yet again, too soon to say I was home as there lied in front of me a whole new education system that as a student I’m not only expected to adapt to but also ace in.

I remember being completely zapped on the first day of lecture looking at the in-depth incorporation of technology with teaching and being nervous of getting up to speed with so much going on simultaneously. However, thanks to the amazing faculty and staff at the Carey Business School, that wasn’t anywhere close to how I felt by the time the lecture approached its end. Now, I am more than Carey-savvy, and able to utilize the resources that the institution has built for our benefits and all-around personality and career evolution.

An initiative making our transition process smoother was the Summer Intensive program. A well-established program structure with a fun combination of several academic and experiential activities, such as community service, case studies, and various group challenges, made comprehension and adaptation easy.

I now feel much better going to sleep every night compared to the first day, and remember the words my father said to me before his long, reassuring fatherly hug, “You’re on your own, kid. Make the most of it.”

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Carey, I feel one step closer to his guidance each passing day and can unarguably state today, “I am finally at home here!”

Anumeha Arora
Anumeha Arora

A travel enthusiast and a dancer from India, Anumeha is currently pursuing her MS in Finance degree at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. She has an undergraduate degree in Business and Finance from University of Delhi, India. During her academic experiences, she was an active member of the respective Cultural Committees, organizing various cultural events on and off campus. During high school, Anumeha did theatre and participated regularly in all the Annual Plays hosted by her school. She was also associated with the Rotary Club of Delhi, India. Before joining Carey, Anumeha worked at Deloitte, India in their Global Employer Services division where she had multiple international clients and was assisting those expatriates with their taxation obligations in the country.

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