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An Optimist’s Guide to Exploring Life

By Akshaya Narasimhan

I moved from India to California 6 months ago. This transition was big and it was hard for me because this is the first time I would be staying away from home. Back in India, the whole idea of living in the US has always been considered a golden opportunity, all of which added to the excitement. I always believe that meeting new people and experiencing new things constantly helps me evolve as a person  so I was hoping that I would be able to take this lesson forward in exploring life better.

Life in the US has been almost a complete antithesis of my life in India. I used to work for a market research firm as an Analyst back home, spending more than 10 hours at work. Talking to clients, reaching out to potential customers and, of course, constant research made my work fun because I used to end up learning a new thing every day! I was longing to get back to work and use my brain cells as soon as I moved here. But restrictions and my visa status meant I had no option but to wait; so resuming my career seemed like an impossible dream. Over time, meeting new people and talking to them helped me understand that losing hope was not an option at all!

As I explored options, I chose to explore my new city and keep myself busy while my husband was away at work, so I started figuring out my options here. As the saying goes, “A person who stops to grow will continue to decline.” Since stagnation is the last thing I wanted to experience, I took up a course at UC Berkeley to advance my education in Marketing.

In addition to this, volunteering at GiveTeens20® has been yet another journey I have been excited about! GT20 has helped me gain new exposure, insights, meet new people and be inspired by them. It also gave me an opportunity to test out a newer and rather exciting aspect of marketing, Social Media! In such a short time, I have learnt so many areas that I didn’t in my previous job.  As I look back at the past few months, I realize that I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey!

I guess I would say California has been a catalyst by opening my horizon and I am hoping the journey continues to be as enriching as it has been so far. As I take this opportunity to make a brand new beginning to my career, one of Seth Godin’s quotes keeps resonating in my  mind:

“Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow”

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Akshaya is our brand new Social Media Strategist for GiveTeens20®! When she is not busy engaging GT20 fans on Social Media, she enjoys listening to music and reading. Have a question about Indian cuisine? Akshaya is your girl!

 

Image Courtesy: www.pexel.com


What I Learned From My Move to The Windy City

By Kevin Leonard

Chicago was never really on my radar while searching for colleges. I always imagined myself going to a school somewhere in California: a place that is familiar and close to home. Never did I see myself in a city with angry taxi drivers, crowded streets, and loud trains. Unfortunately, transitioning from the Bay to Chicago was not an easy process; however, it was an enjoyable and fascinating process.

When I told my parents that I wanted to study film, they were mostly supportive. The obstacle that I had to overcome was getting into a good school where I can pursue my film major. Los Angeles was my first choice, and for a long time my only choice. It made sense to me, since LA is home to Hollywood. When I got accepted to DePaul University in Chicago, I started to second guess myself. I was so set on LA for school that I never considered any other area outside of Southern California. “Hmmm, Chicago? I don’t know, a crowded city with loud streets,” I thought to myself. “Doesn’t seem like my type of environment.”

For once, I felt like I was presented with a decision I had full control over. Should I go to LA? I’m only a 2-hour plane ride away from my parents. I can eat my mom’s cooking and sleep on my heavenly memory foam mattress whenever I felt like it. Or should I go to Chicago? Where I am a 6-hour plane ride away and would only be able to visit during the breaks. I took a leap of faith and decided to challenge myself, force myself out of my comfort zone. I accepted the offer from DePaul and decided to continue my future in Chicago for the next 4 years.

The realization of going to DePaul didn’t hit me until summer break after high school began and my decision started to evoke concern and second guesses. Spending my summer preparing for college and dorm life, I started to feel anxious as the days counted down. Sure, I was excited for college, but I didn’t know what to expect. I started to fear leaving my parents and move halfway across the country.

Then move-in day came. Feelings of loneliness and nervousness overwhelmed me for the first week of school. There were too many people for my comfort and the urban environment made me feel uneasy. But then the realization hit. I am going to spend the next four years or more in this city and I need to start appreciating it. I need to embrace the city. I need to embrace the crowd. I need to embrace the crazy people on the subway.

Tall buildings didn’t make me nauseous anymore; instead I started to appreciate the architecture and beauty. The crowd didn’t trigger claustrophobia anymore; instead it garnished the city with life and prosperity. Since then, my outlook of the city has become positive and forced optimism transformed into innate appreciation. I have made friends that I know I can count on and enjoy my classes and professors. I have even already started looking for apartments for next year. I know that it’s only the first quarter, but spending the next 11 quarters in the city is what I am most excited about.

An enthusiastic mind is what ultimately led to what type of student I am today. I decided to take a shot in the dark and experience what an urban setting feels like. I took the risk and I learned to adapt to the new environment. Fortunately, it ended up being something that I would enjoy. Nine weeks later, I finally feel like I am at home.

blog-7-kevinKevin Leonard is currently a freshman at DePaul University. He is pursuing a film major with concentration in directing. On his spare time, Kevin watches movies, takes photos, and likes trying different brands of cereal.

Photo Courtesy: Kevin Leonard