Tag Archives: India

Growing Up Bi-Dialectal and Bi-Accented

By Aishwarya Badanidiyoor

They say language is one of the quickest ways to establish personal connections. Having grown up in multiple countries, adapting to new environments was always a priority of mine, and that meant picking up on the (sometimes subtle) differences in communication between the widely varied cultures and societies that I came across. To give you a little background, I lived in Saudi Arabia for the first ten years of my life, and then moved to India for the rest of middle school. I went to high school in Canada, and then attended Engineering school in India. Currently a master’s student and conversation partner here at USC, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few international students along the way, and one thing that some of us have in common is our ability to speak multiple dialects/accents of English fluently, due to our diverse upbringing.

I grew up speaking a very neutral Indian accent for the first 9 years of my life, due to my stay in Saudi Arabia. Many people are not aware of this, but Indian accents come in varying flavors, which is why when I moved to India for middle school, my classmates and I had trouble understanding each other for the first few months. When I moved to Canada for high school 4 years later, the differences in accents, phrases, word usage, and intonation (amongst many other things) were quite obvious. Within a few months, my little brother and I had already adapted a neutral general North American accent, garnished with a few of the more obvious characteristics of Canadian English.

Once I moved to a different part of India for Engineering school there was a accent divide between me and my classmates once again. Within the year however, I had molded my tongue into sounding more local without much hassle. This brought about some new challenges for me – I regularly conversed with my Canadian friends in my north american accent, and switched to the new Indian one with my Indian friends.

Continue reading Growing Up Bi-Dialectal and Bi-Accented

Career Fairs are about Seeing Your Skills in a New Light

By Diya Dwarakanath

With the USC Career Fair coming up this week, I know many students will be trying to find internships or full-time jobs for the upcoming semester. This can be daunting for all students but international students have the added burden of finding companies who will accept student visas. Sometimes, it might seem like being an international student only has disadvantages. However, it all depends on your point of view and how well you can sell yourself to an industry recruiter. Try using your international student status as a positive! If you think about it, the fact that you’re here and adjusting to a brand new way of life is telling of your strength in adaptation.

For instance, every time I visit India (every two years or so), it takes me a couple of days to once again become comfortable amidst the order in the chaos that defines Mumbai. But once I do, it all sinks in at a rapid pace. I begin to remember the Indian languages I hear around me. I combat the humidity and sandy roads with cotton clothes and sturdy sandals. I find myself speaking Kannada, a South Indian language, with my grandmother and then quicking turning around and conversing with my cousin in Hindi as we ride an autorickshaw (a three-wheeled taxi) around town. We might enter a beauty salon, where I speak fragmented Marathi (the state language) with the owner, knowing I will get better service. Later that night, I call my dad (who is back in the states) and we talk about my day in English. Finally, In the Mumbai airport, as I’m waiting to fly home, I overhear and understand fragments of a French couple’s conversation.

Then, once I return home to Oregon, I am grateful for hot water that flows out of the sink just by turning on the faucet. I appreciate the high pressure of the water and the fresh, natural air I breathe. I don’t have to turn on a water boiler and wait for it to heat up the water when I want to shower anymore. I also don’t have to wear a scarf to cover my mouth and nose to avoid breathing smog-filled air every time I step outside. But of course, within a couple days, I forget about the physical comforts of being home and take it all for granted. Once again, I’ve re-adapted to the lifestyle in the United States.

All this is something I do naturally so I’ve never thought about it until I had to write about my international experiences for a scholarship opportunity. That’s when I realized that every international student has had this similar experience and that every one of them can use this experience to their advantage.

The ability to quickly understand and successfully adapt to a new environment is CRITICAL in the job market.  A successful new hire or intern will be observant, paying attention to how people do things in their departments so they know what the process is. In addition, they must learn the lingo (or the terms used specific to that company or department) of their new job quickly so that they can integrate into the team. This means listening to others, reading resources available through the company website, and asking their mentors or peers. If they have to work with international clients or colleagues, they must be aware of different work cultures and the time difference. You can’t call your client when it is in the middle of the night for her or him!

Guess what? An international student does all of these things naturally! When they move to the U.S., they learn American colloquialisms by listening and being observant. They plan their Skype sessions with family and friends back home, just like you might plan a web conference with colleagues at work. An international student is already well-equipped to be a successful intern or new hire. Now, it’s up to you to help an industry recruiter understand just how valuable you truly are.

Read up about the Career Fair here: https://careers.usc.edu/students/info/careerfair

Featured image from DynamicPickaxe

Diya is a second-year graduate student doing her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. She also did her undergraduate degree from USC so she knows her way around campus, including some of the best study spots! Diya is from Oregon originally, but was born in India and moved to the U.S. when she was young so she knows what it is like to be in a new country. After graduating, she worked for two years at a medical device start-up and at a large technology company. In her free time, you’ll find Diya writing, dancing (she’s a trained Indian classical dancer but loves any style), going shopping, or watching TV/movies.

Embracing My Indian Culture

By Zaki Khan

As I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I am 100% American. But, my parents emigrated from India in the 70s, so that makes me an Indian-American. While I grew up around the language (Urdu), culture, and cuisine, I actually did my best to abstain from a lot of aspects of my Indian heritage. Although I loved the food, I refused to learn Urdu, I protested any Bollywood film viewing, and I begged my mom to let me wear western style suits (instead of the traditional shlwar-kamis) to important functions and parties.

I shunned all these aspects of my parents’ upbringing because my biggest objective growing up was to fit in. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and my greatest fear was for my peers to think my family’s customs were weird. My reluctance was so great that, on move-in day four years ago, I rolled my eyes and made a fuss when my parents said they met a nice couple from Bangladesh and that I should meet their son.

This wasn’t the first time my parents wanted me to meet and befriend a kid my own age just because he or his parents were from the Indian subcontinent. So I did what I usually do – I greeted the parents with respect, exchanged a few words with their son, Waiz, and told him we should definitely get lunch sometime (not really expecting either of us to follow through on the invitation).

But as it turns out, we actually had very similar interests. And after running into each other repeatedly at different events the first couple months of school and sharing the same dreadful CHEM 105a class, we became really great friends. Soon enough, we decided to room together for our sophomore year and continued to remain roommates and best friends throughout the rest of college.

Continue reading Embracing My Indian Culture