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My Journey Toward Friendship and Belonging in America

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

The following blog post was written by an AMIS student from India named Ishita. Her words provide an honest, vulnerable, and vital perspective of what it looks like to be an international student in the United States looking for friends and a sense of belonging. Whether you are from India or another part of the world, Ishita's wisdom is profound for all international students looking for community in the United States.

I am Ishita Nagpal, born and raised in India. I am a proud member of AMIS. I have lived 25

years in my own country, India, and in the 26th year of my life, I took a BOLD decision to move to the United States of America all by myself.

I had no family, friends, or relatives in the US, so I stepped into the "WORLD OF UNKNOWN."

Was it easy? NO. Was it worth it? After being here for 20 months (and, to be precise, 632 days), today as I speak in the USA, I can confidently say IT WAS WORTH IT.

A little bit about me: I moved to this country to pursue a Ph.D. in Marketing. I also work for AMA as Chair of Communications. Alongside, I am grateful for the opportunity to work as a manager for Marketing RoundTable. All in all, I am grateful to my advisor Dr. Denish Shah at Georgia State University for all the opportunities and learnings. I am a proud #Panther.

I come from a business family in India with two younger brothers. Ideally, I should have been

married by now, but I am on a different path which means I have broken some strongly built walls with the support of my family and made a firm decision for a better future.

So, let's begin to talk about some of the challenges of being an international student. I have

divided the challenges into 4 categories which I feel each one of us faces irrespective of which part of India we come from:

  • Cultural Shock

  • Financial Challenges

  • Work-Study-Life Balance

  • Immigration Laws

My biggest challenge was to adjust to a new currency system. $1.00 US is INR 84.00. The conversion clock in my mind was not too easy to even buy an apple. I had never paid my bills until I moved to the States. Strange, right?

Because in India, we are trained to do ONE TASK AT A TIME. If I am a student, I am only a

student. I don't have to worry about making money. But here, it is different. So, studying,

working, doing the home chores by myself, and making sure I paid my bills by every month's end were different for me. This just seemed a lot to me.

Despite all of us being the brightest students who come to the States because of their fantastic education system, we face the hardest battles. To all of us, there is one BROAD SOLUTION to the above problem. Any guesses?


solution? AMIS and their AMIGO program.

To me personally, AMIS means a lot. After I moved here, I was Googling about how to meet

international students. Upon that search, I found the AMIS page and quickly subscribed to their newsletter, so basically it started with a click of a button. I started attending their events, and met this beautiful woman inside and out, IRENE. Talking to her is itself so peaceful and soothing. She is the best HUMAN I have come across. She is always ready to help and talk.

A few months later, I met my AMIGO friend from California who now lives in Atlanta. Despite

being from different cultures, we got along well. We learned from each other about our

countries, beliefs, traditions, and common interests of working out, healthy food, and exploring different parts of states together. Thank you, Irene and AMIS, for connecting us.

After spending some time here, I feel so HAPPY and PROUD of myself that I am a (work-in-progress) master of all traits now. I am independent. I am working around the clock, and I feel good. AMIS has helped me in every possible way to connect with people, inviting us to different events and making us FEEL AT HOME.

What more can we ask for? They are giving us the best gift: MENTAL PEACE that we have


Thank you so much, AMIS and Irene, for giving me this opportunity. I feel blessed and grateful to be standing here today and sharing my experience.

As said by Henry Millar; “One’s destination is never a place but a NEW WAY of seeing things.” Thank you, AMIS, for providing us that NEW LENS. AMIS has been helping thousands of students feel at HOME, experiencing different cultures, and different festivals.

Thank you.

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