Being able to explore her options before deciding on her major appealed very much to Saheba Sahni. Saheba is from New Delhi, India. She is attending Boston College (BC) in Boston, Massachusetts. "I decided to come here primarily because the education system in the U.S. is so different than what we have back home.
If I had stayed back home and gone to college there I probably would have had to concentrate on one field. For example, I’ve probably would have done political science and history and just that,” she says. “But the fact that you can come here to college as a freshman and not knowing what you want to major in and then explore your options before settling on one of them I choose international studies because I have always had a huge interest in international affairs and also an international studies major is inter-disciplinary,” she says.
“I’ve always loved history and political science and sociology and it would have been hard for me to choose one out of all of them to major in. So this way I can take classes in all these subjects and other stuff as well and that suits me perfectly.”
Going to college away from home was initially an adjustment, however Saheba says having supportive professors makes her college experience a positive one. “Well, I always try and do the best that I can in all of my classes and the professors here at BC have been incredibly supportive,” she says. "They are very helpful both inside the classroom and outside and if I ever had trouble with something my professors have always been very approachable. They expect you to put in your hard work and they are always there to help if you ever need anything."
Staying involved in campus activities played a role as well. “My freshman year I was freshman representative for Asian caucus which is an umbrella group on campus for all the Asian clubs and my sophomore year I was the show coordinator for the South Asian Student Association. I am still a member of both of these clubs,” she says.
“But now I am primarily involved with the International system program at Boston College which is basically this program that matches up incoming international freshmen and exchange students with upper classmen at BC who act as their mentors for the academic year. So I am involved on campus with a lot of things that sort of keep me occupied and I enjoy being here more.”
This is Saheba's junior year. She says she is surprised by how many American students aren't that interested in politics. “I don’t really think I had a preconceive notion of what Americans were like at all before I came here. The only thing that surprised me was the people that I talk to over here sometimes about American politics aren’t as interested as I would expect them to be and aren’t really that much into what is going on in the rest of the world outside of America which is sort of unfortunate because I have grown up with, and it isn’t just my family back home, but most people in India are very much into politics and at least keep up to date with what’s going on or know what’s going on,” she says. “And its very strange to have conversations with people here who just plain aren’t interested, which to me is a big surprise because I expected it to be the opposite when I got here.”
Saheba wants to put her international studies skills to use, so she says she already has figured out what she will do this summer. “I’m working at a foreign policy think tank in DC over the summer and that is probably as of now what I see myself doing after I graduate as well.
That might change, which is why I chose to do this over the summer to see if this is really what I am interested in,” she says. “But for now I see myself probably working with a foreign policy think tank or an NGO somewhere.”
When it comes to getting an education, Saheba says...”My grandfather always use to tell us that a good education is the only thing you are going to have to count on once you leave school and it is very important to me and it has always been something that my family stressed on,” she says. “So it was one of my biggest reasons for coming here. I wanted to get an education different from what I would have received back home and that is the main reason why I am here.”
Her advice to other students interested in studying in the United States is... “America is a great place to study. You learn so much from the people around you. The universities here are absolutely great and it is always best to learn as much as you can from the people that you come in contact with and you always have to keep an open mind and remember what you are here for,” she says. “And while you are here, just make the most of this experience.