By Stefan Yablonski
Above: Shah in her cap and gown in front of the sign at main entrance.
As an international student, balancing everything was initially overwhelming for Aneri Shah.
“But with time, I learned to manage my schedule better. Fellow students from similar backgrounds motivated me to try harder. I embraced cultural differences and observed effective management skills in my American classmates” she said.
“Prioritizing tasks and reducing work hours helped me focus on studies and take care of myself. Adapting to the weather and food was challenging — but I gradually found a routine that worked. I embraced the discomfort of being outside my comfort zone, to achieve personal growth and development,” she added.
Shah is an international student from India pursuing her master’s in graphic design and digital media at SUNY Oswego.
“Back in India, I made the decision to pursue my master’s in the States, the land of opportunities,” Shah explained. “I was determined to attend a state university and found that SUNY Oswego offered the exact course I was looking for, making it the ideal choice for my academic goals. My research and connections with students and alumni through platforms like LinkedIn and social media further reassured me about the college’s curriculum, faculty and course offerings. With this confidence, I aspired to become a Laker and applied to SUNY Oswego.”
She joined SUNY Oswego for the spring 2022 semester and the abrupt change in temperature — going from 30 degrees Celsius to minus 10 degrees Celsius within 24 hours — left her stranded and shivering at the Syracuse airport, “and each day required a different strength to step out in the cold and face the snow,” she added. “However, this experience taught me resilience and adaptability.”
Language wasn’t a significant barrier, as she had grown up watching Hollywood movies and shows, making the experience feel more familiar and live.
“However, food became a major adjustment,” she said. “Learning to cook my traditional dishes was a necessity to satisfy my taste buds. Though I’m not a great cook, I’ve improved over time. It took me a while just to perfect cooking rice, and now I happily invite my classmates and friends to dinner, appreciating the learning curve.”
Forming close friendships with other international students and celebrating their cultural festivals and achievements together created a sense of family away from home, she noted.
“Learning from each other’s differences and experiences has been a driving force in keeping me going during my time at SUNY Oswego,” she added.
Reflecting on her journey, it has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, she said. Through the ups and downs, she has thrived, learned and grown.
“This experience has impacted not only my education but also shaped me as a person, providing new perspectives and enriching my cultural values. I didn’t foresee this level of growth and I’m grateful for all that I have achieved so far,” Shah said. “However, I know there’s still much more to accomplish and numerous challenges to overcome. The one and a half years of my graduate studies have revealed strengths and abilities within me that I never knew existed,” she said. “It has instilled a belief in myself that I can triumph over any obstacle life throws my way, inspiring me to relentlessly pursue my dreams.”