It's been almost a year since I moved from Kolkata, India to Lafayette, Louisiana, USA.
Yes ! I have travelled 8,783 miles to pursue my PhD in Statistics from University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Being kind of a mama's boy, possibly I needed this change for personal growth.
Tried to learn a few things about Lafayette before getting in the plane. The fact that a few years ago Lafayette was called the "HAPPIEST CITY IN THE US" made me quite excited.
Now, most people in my position, would be very nervous and to some extent frightened. Honestly, I was not. I was very sad as I was leaving my parents behind but that's about it.
I have always wanted to travel and explore new places and was thrilled to be able to visit a new place in another country. It took me about 26 hours to get to Lafayette.
Many people warned me about a "culture shock".
Yes ! I admit many things are different but I was never shocked ! Being from a country like India, which is so diverse, I am familiar with many religions, customs etc.
The sunset around 8 pm during summer is quite fascinating though.
Most people here in the US become self sufficient from a very young age and they can get a driver's license when they are just 17.
Well, when I moved here last year I was 24 and I didn't know how to drive.
Pretty embarrassing, right ?! I would say that the people in there late teens or early twenties are much more matured than I was at that age. Lafayette is actually a very cool place to live in.
It's so much less crowded when compared to India and I love that fact ! I started living off campus with 3 other people in a 4 bedroom/bathroom apartment.
Now, I am neither an introvert nor an extrovert. My friends would describe me as funny and quite friendly.
I mean maybe at first I may seem shy but when I start talking you will possibly tell me to stop ! So, I did hope to make some good friends.
But over the past few months (and I promise COVID 19 has nothing to do with it) I haven't had much luck. People are definitely nice and helpful here.
If you meet a stranger somewhere in the streets or Walmart, he or she will definitely smile at you. I do know some people in the department.
I think they are more like acquaintances as we never hangout after classes or during weekends.
I did try to invite them over, but none seemed really interested ! My housemates were cool, but we never hung out or anything. Then I tried meeting girls.
This hasn't gone well !!! I don't have a very thick accent and people can understand me quite well.
When women hear I am from India, many of them just run away ! I have been asked some strange questions.
Like if I have a wife back in India and whether I am looking for an American woman just for the green card, whether I am after a woman's money and car, whether I do sex trafficking !
I honestly felt pretty humiliated and I understand they may have had bad experiences but all Indian men are not the same. So, in short dating experience hasn't been good for me !
The best thing that has happened to me so far is my Mustang ! She is actually my second car in 5 months. Got in an accident with my first car and after the wreck, it was never the same.
Oh yes ! I got in an accident. Partially it was my fault, but not completely and it is quite a well known fact that that drivers in Lafayette are not the best !
I am a teetotaler and a non-smoker.
But I did try a few drinks and got heartburns ! I would rather get heartburns from pizzas ! But, I like visiting downtown !
Visited downtown a few times before the pandemic and like a wallflower, I used to stand in one corner of the bar with orange juice and observe people.
So much happiness on the faces after a long week.
I really enjoy driving and kind of have fallen in love with the country music.
Also, I am in love with Raising Cane's and Deano's Pizza ! Before coming here, some people warned me about the racism of deep south. Ummm... I did face some.
One of my housemates, who seemed cool in the beginning suddenly got possessed by "RACISM DEMON" and started attacking me after the winter break.
Other than this guy, I haven't met any racist here. I am not sure if I am allowed to say (since I am not American), but, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
I am quite sure that the guys and especially the women not wanting to be my friend has nothing to do with racism.
Maybe, it's their religion ? Or, maybe I should try to open up more ? I don't know.
I would like to say that I really like the place.
I haven't had the famous gumbo or haven't been invited to a party yet, but I hope that I will be able to experience these soon ! Unfortunately, I don't eat beef, pork fish or seafood.
Otherwise, I would have definitely loved Louisiana's famous crawfish and boudin ! I also hope that I will make more friends.
If I meet someone, I will definitely stay here as it feels like home already ! So, if you see a guy in a red Mustang convertible, do not forget to wave !
Stay safe everyone and don't forget to wear a mask !