I attended a ‘study abroad’ seminar, while I was studying in Class 11 in Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. I liked the thought of being independent in a foreign country and interacting with people from different cultures. I started preparing for the application process much in advance by going through the websites of various universities across the UK, US and Canada.
Choosing the subject: The most important decision I had to make was to choose the major I wanted to pursue. After consulting my parents and teachers, I chose psychology as I had always been interested in studying about human behaviour.
Writing the essay: I did not take any help from my counsellor because I thought it was important for the essay to come across as original. The topic of the essay was
‘A significant experience of your life’, and I spoke about my hobbies such as scuba diving, playing table tennis and skiing, so as to give the admissions officers an idea about my overall personality. Constant feedback from my parents was an advantage as it helped me correct grammatical errors.
Letter of recommendation: Since I was going for a psychology course, I asked my psychology teacher to write the recommendation for me and mention my strengths in the subject so as to add value to my application. My school counsellor wrote my second LOR. I gave these teachers my résumé, which helped them in writing the recommendation.
Selecting the university: When it came to selecting universities, I applied to those that gave importance to extra-curricular activities, along with academics. Though I had applied to six or seven universities, my heart was set on Drexel University as it is not only academically known, but also has facilities for various sport and other activities. My counsellor guided me through the shortlisting process. Before finalising on Drexel University, I did some research on all the psychology professors who teach there. This made it simpler for me to understand what each professor might expect to see in my papers.
Exams: I started studying for the TOEFL and SAT from Class 10 onwards and gave the tests towards the end of Class 11.
Scholarship: I did not apply for financial aid, but I did get a scholarship of $16, 500 from Drexel University based on my academic scores.
Accommodation and stay: To stay in a city like Philadelphia, which is the largest city in Pennsylvania, is overwhelming. Although I enjoy the night life, music, food and diverse cultural scene, I’m also conscious of the high crime rate in the city. To be on the safe side, I chose to live on campus so that I didn’t have to travel much to attend classes and I could be in the company of other students. Overall though, studying in a foreign country is a fabulous life-altering experience and I’m cherishing every minute of it.