Arjun Sharma says going to medical school or studying Engineering is what most students in Nepal, India usually do when they go to college. In the beginning he was no different. “I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do because it is a big deal back home to go to medical school so or do Engineering that is what most good students would do. You take a whole bunch of science [courses] in high school and then apply to be a doctor or an engineer,” he says.
“So I went with the flow and I applied to this medical school and got in and then realized that I actually didn’t want to be a doctor so that is when I started thinking of alternative actions of what I could do. That is when I found out that U-S colleges would give out scholarships and some friends of mine were already coming to the U-S so that is when it all started,” he says. “I really wanted to do Physics and that was also one of the reasons I didn’t like medicine.”
After realizing that the field of medicine was not for him, Arjun choose Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, but not before considering other top colleges in the United States. “So when I was looking for colleges it was a big deal to look for big universities or colleges and it was kind of up in the air, but I was looking at some good schools and so I looked at the U-S news ranking of the top ranked colleges and universities and for some reason I gravitated toward colleges as opposed to big universities,” he says.
“I applied early to Williams which was actually number two in the nation back then. I looked at the website of Amherst College which is currently number two, actually we are number one and I was looking at there website and their Physics page was down so I thought I will take number two and that is pretty much how I thought of Williams,” he says. [and] “I applied early, had a few months to goof around and then I came over.”
Arjun has just completed his junior year at Williams College. Although he always wanted to study Physics, he says studying Computer Science too will be beneficial to him also. “I’m doing Physics and Computer Science. A double major. I really always wanted to do Physics.
I really liked Physics in high school and did pretty well most of the time and then Computer Science I wasn’t thinking much of it, but then I came over and the first semester I thought I would learn some programming because it would be handy and then I kept taking classes and then in the mean while I was thinking of taking some kind of job maybe programming or somewhere in that industry or get a job with Computer Science because if you do want to graduate in Physics and want to take a job it is kind of hard because you are not quite employable yet so that was the plan when I took the Computer Science major, but Physics I have always liked it and wanted to do it so eventually I decided to do both,” he says.
“I am kind of thinking of going to graduate school now, but I am going to finish the Computer Science as well.”
He also says going to a liberal arts college has expanded his way of thinking. “Well I am going to a liberal arts college and it is a kind of a novel concept in that had I stayed in Nepal I would have focus on one thing… so if you do Physics you just do Physics and nothing else or if you do Engineering or Medical you just do that one thing and that would be your life,” he says.
“Suddenly I am in college and I actually have more choices of classes to take than I had in high school so that was a great thing. “A lot of the times I take a bunch of classes and then I come over to the dinning hall and just start talking to people and there is a lot of like intellectual discussion and normally I find myself talking to people about Economics or Philosophy or politics of Nigeria and that kind of thing and I think that is really a valuable thing to have.
To have a whole lot of different kind of people around that you can talk to and even though you a subject matter that is your expertise there are other things that you get to be exposed a little and you know a little and that way you get to appreciate it,” he says. “I got to branch out a little and I think my education and my life here would have been different if I had not come over.”
Once Arjun graduates he isn't sure yet what he will do. “I think I am going to apply to graduate school for Physics so that is going to be another five or six years and get a Ph D. I actually don’t know what I want to do after that,” he says. “I might want to do research in Physics or in the industry, it is still up in the air.”