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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Lost in Translation: Meet Shemal Shroff from India

    Rebecca Marie Sasnett
    Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat Shemal Shroff, foreign exchange student from India and first year graduate student in electrical engineering, talks about the differences between living in India and the US outside of Student Union Memorial Center on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. The education system is different in India then in the US.

    Opening its doors to numerous foreign exchange students every semester, the UA is a mosaic of cultural diversity. The purpose of this column is to profile the thoughts and opinions about the campus environment, but from the perspective of one of these non-American students. Shemal Shroff is an electrical engineering graduate student from India who first arrived to the United States nine months ago. This outdoors adventurer longs for the food of his homeland, and shares with the Daily Wildcat some of the observations he’s made about American culture.

    Daily Wildcat: Why did you choose to study in Arizona?

    Shemal Shroff: I’m a big biking and hiking guy, and so I knew this would be a place to do that. I got into four other universities, but based on the courses offered here, I chose [the UA].

    Is the Tucson landscape very different from India?

    In terms of city, it’s pretty much the same … except there’s much more barren land here and everything is much more spread out.

    What has been one of the biggest culture shocks?

    I was standing at a junction of a street and I was like ‘should I go or not,’ and my friend told me that the cars had to stop for when you’re crossing. I was just really surprised by that.

    Is the education system different in India?

    Yes, completely different. In India you have one classroom with one professor and here you have to move from building to building. I’m not saying our curriculum is bad, but here the assignments are really time-consuming. Back in India, there’s always Wikipedia.

    What were some of your perceptions of America before arriving?

    From everything I’ve seen in sitcoms and movies, everyone here seemed very chilled out. I find everyone here is social.

    Are people not very social in India?

    It’s getting to be more relaxed.

    Why is that?

    The Internet. You can step out of your bubble and start getting to know people. Everyone just wants to make connections in their personal life and private life.

    Have you done any sight-seeing?

    I’ve been to three states: California, Nevada and Utah. I’ve been to the canyons on a hiking trip. I hope to do more road trips … that’s how I relax.

    What are some things you hear Americans talk about, but don’t understand?

    I’ve learned a couple of things … like tail-gating. But I didn’t find anything really strange, so I didn’t have to blend in very much.

    Follow Kevin C. Reagan on Twitter @KevinReaganUA

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