When it came to deciding whether to stay in India or come to the United States to further his education, Sandeep Pandita says the education system in the United States would provide more flexibility and options for him.
“The education over here is totally different from the one back home. It’s like there is no comparison and all because in India once you choose your major you have to finish like that. If you go as a Chemical Engineering as a freshman, you come out as a Chemical Engineering in your senior year. Otherwise you have to start school over from the beginning,” he says. “But people over here go as Chemical Engineering and they can come out as a Business major. You can shift your major and do whatever. There is no option like this in India. Over here it is a lot more flexible and formal. In India it is really strict and it really goes by the rules,” he adds. “After I graduated from India in Chemical Engineering I wanted to pursue my higher studies and I applied to a couple of places I was thinking of applying in Europe and in the U-S, but then I thought of coming to the U-S because if I had to go to Europe then I had to learn a totally different language and learning a different language is kind of hard and I heard that it is kind of hard to get a scholarship in Europe while if you come to the U-S it is easier to get a scholarship and its easier to payoff and that is the whole story of my coming to the U-S.”
A native of Kashmir, India Sandeep Pandita is a student at the University of Utah. He says being on campus has been nice. “The campus life at first was kind of dull because I didn’t know anyone and I had to make my complete own circle, but after two or three months it became really nice and my campus life here is surrounded by the other international people like other people from other countries here in the U-S rather than the people from the U-S. I don’t know the reason for it but that is how it has been from last two years, like I know people from Germany, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, like my roommate is from Turkey, one is from Iran and other one is from Austria and I am from India and all my other friends are basically fro Brazil,” he says. “My extra curriculum activities are we like to get together doing a barbeque like most Americans do we do a barbeque a lot and then we party sometimes also sometime we just get together to go to a football game or to a university basketball game.”
Sandeep also says he can clearly see the differences between customs here and back home.
“It’s been real different like culture wise people talk wise and the politics is like totally different. Let me start from the young people. The people here and back home people are open but not still so open like you can go up to anyone here and say ‘what’s up?’ there you can only say ‘hello’ to someone you know otherwise you aren’t going to say anything,” he says. “And then when I was in India it is a lot more about respect. Elder people are shown much more respect then compared to over here. The best thing over here is the first time I went shopping you can buy anything and take it back within one month. In India if you buy something you can’t take it back so that is definitely different.”
How does U-S politics differ from his country? Sandeep says the politics may be different, but the politicians are still the same. “The politics are totally different because over here there is only a two-party system and in India a multi-cultural party system because over here you have only two parties and in India we have like 150 parties I think and not any national party is mainly the recent party. Although the politics is different, the politicians are still the same like they still have the same propaganda and they still use the same thing like when we come to power we are going to do blah, blah, blah, But the one thing about politics is the issues are totally different. Like in India the issues are poverty and money and jobs, some cuts, some religion but over here it is totally different.”
Attending the University of Utah has been a rewarding experience for Sandeep, but eventually he wants to return to India. “After I complete my studies I want to work for two years at the max three years because I want to get some U-S experience and then after working for three years I want to go back home because you know the saying you can take a man out of India, but not India out of the man so I do want to go back home.”
Sandeep Pandita is one of more than 500-thousand international students currently enrolled in U-S colleges.