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Around the World at ASU: India

Indian international student, Namratha Putta, came to Arizona for grad school and has since helped other international students adjust to ASU

Portrait of Namratha Putta, second year Masters student in Computer Science, is vice-president of CIS at ASU, taken on Sept. 9, 2016. Putta came to ASU, from India, to gain a masters degree in computer science.
Portrait of Namratha Putta, second year Masters student in Computer Science, is vice-president of CIS at ASU, taken on Sept. 9, 2016. Putta came to ASU, from India, to gain a masters degree in computer science.

In spring 2016, Indian international student Namaratha Putta took a daunting step by leaving home to travel over 8,000 miles to ASU. 

Putta used that step to lead the Coalition of International Students as vice president, an organization that provides international students a community and a place feel at home.

A graduate student, she came to ASU to study computer science after completing her undergraduate studies and working in India for a year.

“I really wanted to continue my studying, and India had less opportunities for grad students,” Putta said. “There is a lot of competition for jobs and school, and the quality of education isn’t as high as it is in the United States.”

After applying to universities in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas, Putta was accepted into ASU and immediately fell in love with Tempe. She's a second semester graduate student and has one semester left until graduation.

Due to popular media representations and family connections, Putta already had some exposure to the U.S. culture. 

“It wasn’t too big of a culture shock to come to ASU,” Putta said. “Most families in India have at least one family member that lives in the U.S. which helped me adapt. I also watched a lot of American television shows to get an idea of what life was like in the U.S.”

The education system did, however, surprise Putta when she arrived to the U.S.

In India, students who don’t plan on attending college graduate high school in tenth grade, while 11th and 12th grade consist of courses that prepare students for college. She said in her specific class it started with 60 students who stayed together for four years.

Students' majors are pre-decided before they commit to a college, and their course schedules are already determined, which is different from the system in the U.S.  

“When you enter your undergrad you already know what program you are going to be in,” Putta said. “I was in computer science and my courses were decided for me already ... You don’t really have a choice of what subject you want to study, and even if you don’t like your major you have to finish it.”

Many international students have trouble acclimating to the cultural shift. Putta began joining clubs like CIS to ensure she would get the full college experience, however, she has since used the club to help international students feel at home.

“Even though we have a lot of fun we still are able to focus on major issues dealing with international students and try to make changes so that it is more comfortable for them here, it is really a perfect balance," Putta said. 

Graduate student and computer science major Aravind Sreenivasa, president of CIS and fellow Indian international student, said he sees the effort Putta puts into the club first hand and her dedication to the organization.   

"Namratha is one of the best event organizers I have worked with," Sreenivasa said. "Planning, finding resources, handling the volunteers, you name it." 

Senior biological science majors Adlinur Lam and Fasha Liyana Johari said they've also worked with Putta in various activities through the organization. 

"Namratha is a really great friend and definitely a great team member for CIS," Lam said and Johari agreed. "Even the hardest task is easy when we have her around."

Apart from CIS, Putta is also a member of the ASU Outdoors Club which evoked her love for hiking.

Putta has traveled to Sedona and Flagstaff with the club and has hiked many of the major mountains in the area.

“Hiking was a new hobby for me when I came to Arizona,” Putta said. “The hiking in India is either too extreme for me or it isn’t enough of a challenge, there’s really no in between.”

Putta said she has enjoyed her time living in Arizona so far and is happy with her decision to study at ASU.

“I like Arizona for its outdoor activities and I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else,” Putta said. “Arizona is calm and there is a wide variety of things to do so you’re never bored, plus we have beautiful sunsets here that I can’t see at home.”

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