An Enigma: Better Known as Stanford

9 May

Stanford – a word, which, after Harvard, elicited my deepest respect and awe before I went there to do my master’s. Like most of the things you achieve in life, the ‘awe’ factor finally goes away, and what remains is the feeling of contentment, achievement, and on top of the world. But this feeling arrives after you’ve been to Stanford. Before that, it’s a word, and an enigmatic world, especially from thousands of miles away, in India.

When I decided to come to the US for a graduate program in technology-based learning, I applied to three universities and Stanford, thinking that there is no harm in applying though I was convinced that I would not be admitted. How could a simple and average person like me go to one of the best universities in the world (a line of thought that has changed since then)? When I received an email from the graduate admissions office, I went ballistic. This was unbelievable. And equally shocking was the cost of studying there – about $52,000, that’s 2.4 million in Indian currency. You could buy a three bedroom apartment in a nice locality in Bangalore, the (so called) silicon valley of India.

I couldn’t arrange for the money, and had to forego the admission offer, and was heartbroken. Though I did get admitted to the other three universities, I decided to wait another year and apply again. The next year, I applied to to some PhD programs too. Though Michigan State University offered me to join their Cognitive Psychology PhD program (by the way, their CP program was ranked 3rd in the US), I decided to go for the master’s at Stanford. This was then when I didn’t know much about Stanford, which was about to change …

I landed at the San Francisco airport on September 11, 2005 (9/11, if you will) and was received by a lovely old couple whom I’d met for the first time, thanks to the Home Stay program for international students.

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