Getting Started on the 'Broken' Foot

Rohit Bhargava from Bangalore, India didn’t have the best luck starting his education in the U.S. How about a broken foot throwing off your plans? Read the first of many vivid and colorful stories Rohit shares with ISV, we’re sure you can relate.

Rohit Bhargava wrote the following article for International Student Voice. It is one of several submissions capturing his time studying in the United States.He graduated in 2008 with a degree in International Business from the University of Akron.

Applied, got accepted, got a scholarship, got my visa, now…shopping, great time with friends before you leave, get on the plane, pass through Immigration, land in the USA, get on with school…

When you are ‘Me’, it isn’t quite that simple. Between the visa and rest of my plans, came the rear tire of a car! Confused? I was out shopping with my Mom and burning a hole in my wallet when a car decided that normal is boring, came the wrong way and ran over my foot! This happened five days before I was scheduled to leave for the US. Amidst the screaming, the pain and a deep desire to kill the driver, I was thinking, “Is this a sign of things to come?”

Rohit's family

Many people told my Mom that since the scholarship and the admission could be deferred by a semester, I should just wait it out and not leave in ‘this condition’. My Mother, being the tough woman that she is, sat next to me and said, “It is just a broken leg! Yes, I am concerned about how you will get around, yes, it will hurt me to know that simple things such as taking a shower will be tough for you…but, I don’t want to set a precedent that you can run away from problems. It is the courage to continue that counts. Now, as far as I am concerned, I want you to embark on this journey. Now, you decide if you want to continue or not.” “Of course I am going!” Came the reply, straight from the heart.

Yes, I had crossed the Rubicon and a few days later, I was at the Airport, amidst emotional goodbyes but not a single tear and ready to get onto the wheelchair that was arranged for me! Things went along smoothly and I was able to conveniently avoid the long queues courtesy the cast! This is awesome; I should keep this cast as my ‘Essential Travel Partner’ screamed the naughty teen in me.

Oh, it was about to get Interesting before I got to Ohio!

The pressure in the plane caused my leg to swell up and it started pushing against cast to cause an excruciating pain which was temporarily subsided by a double shot of painkillers. Then I landed in Chicago and was wheel chaired to terminal number 30 from where I was supposed to get my connecting flight to Cleveland and the wheelchair was taken away. “Blah Blah Airlines Flight number XYZ from Chicago to Cleveland originally scheduled to depart from terminal number 30 will now leave from terminal number five! We apologize for the inconvenience caused” said the Airport announcer. Without a wheelchair, in a walking cast, the effect of the painkillers wearing off, the hesitance to ask for help and the foolhardy insides screaming “Come on dude, you can do this”, I dragged my luggage and my leg all the way to terminal five. As I was basking in glory of my Iron Man task, almost on cue, I heard, “Blah Blah Airlines Flight number XYZ from Chicago to Cleveland scheduled to depart from Terminal number five will now leave from terminal number 38! We apologize for the inconvenience caused” WHAT!?!?!?

Alright, repeat of the earlier emotions and I was at terminal 38 and then I heard the Devil again (yes you are right…terminal number…14 and then…terminal number 28, then terminal number 3) and finally, terminal Number 30! The original terminal where I was dropped.

Thank you Chicago, I am never supporting the Bulls again.

Amidst the delays, I was craving for a coffee and something to eat. Now, coffee for me meant go to the coffee shop, order a coffee, get it, pay

Rohit with friends in the U.S.

for it, get energized and get on with life. But in Starbucks land, there were 35 million options for coffee, another 20 million for add-ons and Tall was the smallest size available! I had also watched American TV shows and always wanted eat a bagel. Don’t ask me why, but I just wanted to! Now, I saw the bagels and again there were a gazillion options for a simple bagel. And to add to my confused state of mind, the people in the line at the airport aren’t too high on the patience department. Just as I was about to leave the thought of ever having a coffee in this country, a wonderful young woman stepped up and asked in what felt like God’s words, “You look a little confused and stressed out, you need some help?” I told her that I just wanted a simple coffee and a bagel. She smiled and walked me through the entire process, got me my coffee and even taught me how to toast the bagel! She also helped me call my contact in Akron via a calling card which I couldn’t figure out earlier!

My call helped calm down the nerves of my contact who was informed by the airline staff that I had cancelled my flight from Frankfurt to Chicago and thus wouldn’t be making it to Cleveland after all! Oh thank you airlines. After a six hour delay, the chauffeur from the company was there to pick me up and he said in words that I can NEVER forget, “I was never going back without you, no matter how long it took.”

America, your hospitality has already won me over.

He took me to a cozy suite at ‘Quaker Square’ in downtown Akron, told me order room service if I needed anything and it will be charged to the room. Too tired and hesitant to order anything, I just ate some of the snacks that I had brought from India and fell asleep. I took solace in the fact that the room that I will be staying in will have a TV, lots of space to move around, a gorgeous bathroom and room service. Oh yes, I thought that I, Mr. Royalty will be living in the hotel suite for my college life!

That bubble burst when I was taken to my actual room which was in a basement, had little natural light, no air-conditioning, had a dungeon vibe about it and to make matters worse, my future roommate had left for his summer vacation in May without doing his dishes and had left raw fish outside to rot for three months.

Hello Prince…Welcome to college life.

To be continued in the next issue of International Student Voice.

Rohit’s Lessons In His Own Words
1. The Quarter-25 Cents, doesn’t say anywhere that it is 25 Cents.
2. Dime is 10 cents and smaller than a nickel which is five cents.
3. Ordering a coffee is going to be a task.
4. There are nice as well as inconsiderate people in all shapes, sizes and colors.
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