At the age of 14, I left behind everything I knew in my hometown, New Delhi. I moved halfway across the world to a picturesque boarding school – in the middle of rural Delaware. This drastic shift was definitely not an easy one and it certainly played a huge role in my life.

The decision to move was one of the hardest choices I had ever had to make. On one hand, I would be separated from my close-knit family and the culture I had grown up in. But, on the other, I would finally be in an academic system that was suited to my personality. I have always liked to read and to question and so had started to get jaded with the rote based learning at a traditional Indian school.

The move itself was far more painful than the decision had been. I had no idea what exactly I was in for and the reality did not strike me until my feet were on campus. Looking back on it, saying goodbye to my parents had to have been the most traumatizing events to have ever occurred in all my fourteen years of existence. It was also one of the the things that helped me grow the most. I had to learn how to become independent – and I had to do it fast.

Living in a different country with students from mixed backgrounds has given me a perspective I never had. Growing up in an upper-class Indian family, I led an extremely sheltered life. I had never had a chance to know anyone outside the same culture and socioeconomic background as me. And, honestly, I had never gone out of my way to do so either. At the time, I was oblivious to what a great learning experience these interactions could be. In the year and a half that I have spent at boarding school, I have had the opportunity to listen to countless stories from various people, which have endowed me with the kind of global knowledge I never knew was possible to have. After hearing everything from why my Chinese roommate eats century eggs to listening to the hardships of being the only black family in an otherwise white town in suburban America, I now know more than I ever did. My awareness of issues such as racial discrimination and gender inequality has been given life. This exposure has impacted my hopes and dreams because it has instilled empathy in me. I am now sensitive to issues that people face in the real world and want to explore them further.  I can see myself doing research and writing on these topics and I hope that I will be able to make a positive impact through sharing my own learning.

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