I love Lucy. So did America. Lucille Ball was the undisputed queen of American television in the years following World War II, bringing mirth and merriment into households still reeling from the most catastrophic war known to mankind. She once famously said, “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” This advice is worth writing down in a diary somewhere. For those of us who have moved with our husbands to share in their dreams in foreign lands, Lucy’s advice is more precious than gold. Remember – the trick is to be happy and let one’s creative juices flow.
I too had apprehensions prior to moving to the Boston. After all, I was a successful career woman with an enviable job in one of India’s leading architecture firms. I was unsure if I was ready to part ways with what had been an important and enjoyable part of my life. I kept fighting these demons right until it was time to board my flight. I guess my mother sensed my anxiety in the tone of my voice as I called her up before it was time to shut off my mobile phone. They say mothers know best. They really do. “Don’t view the next opportunity as a replacement. Start a new chapter in your life. No two chapters should be the same” she said. And then, it dawned upon me. I wasn’t giving up my life as a career woman. I was merely gaining one of a housewife. Instead of making homes for a living, I was now going to make mine.
Being an architect and artist, my daily schedule in Boston couldn’t be any better. Boston is called the Athens of the United States. After all, Boston is the Number 1 Innovative City in the United States, “on the cutting edge of finding, inventing, and capitalizing on everything hot and new”, Boston is the Youngest city in the Country – said a survey. Countless universities and colleges coexist in a very small area, each a leader in a unique field. Unlike universities in other corners of the world, American institutes are welcoming to one and all. You don’t need to be a student to attend events in these universities. I took it upon myself to attend as many art exhibitions and visit as many museums as I could. I often attend talks by leaders in architecture – luminaries whose work I had studied as a student in India. I have met some incredibly gifted personalities and have become oriented with cultures from several countries. I have gone on food tasting events, learnt greetings in foreign languages and learned dance forms from other nations.
Just a word of advice – Like everything else in life, pursuing an advanced degree in the United States requires some planning. Be sure to check the websites of institutes to study their degree offerings, admission requirements and application deadlines. No two universities are alike in this regard. Some require GRE scores while others have more eclectic requirements. You must be willing to invest some time in preparing yourself to take these tests and fill out the application forms, some of which could be quite extensive. However, almost all universities require citizens from non-English speaking countries, including India, to take the TOEFL to demonstrate their command over the English language. Also, application deadlines to commence classes in a particular semester generally precede the semester by 6-8 months. For instance, if you are keen on joining a university in the fall semester, the deadline to apply might be in December or January. My husband had urged me to take GRE and TOEFL before I got married (December) Ironically, amidst the wedding preparations I was celebrating my engagement with Quants and Verbal. Luckily I was through with decent marks getting admitted to an excellent Co-op program in Design, which emphasize on learning in the workplace as well as the classroom.
Inspired and informed, I have taken the leap and enrolled myself for a Master’s degree in design at Boston Architectural College. I start classes in the fall. The next chapter of my life of being a student of design and a homemaker in conjunction is about to begin. I couldn’t be any more excited.
Manali V. Yadav