Friday, December 19, 2014

A Well-Earned Vacation

In a few hours, I'll be on a long flight from Chicago to Hyderabad, taking my first long vacation of fifteen days in as many months. It's been a momentous change, even by the high standards of change that has been my life. If, at one point of time, I thought the move back to Hyderabad from Kochi, or from Saharanpur to Roorkee, were life-changing, my fifteen months in the US have been the most profound of all.

Unlike my other changes, I do not remember the transition from the US all that well. Probably, that's because I hit the road running with my research and courses - settling in or coping with a culture shock (which never really happened) were not on the cards. That doesn't mean I fit in snugly. The fundamental difference has been taking control of my own life and to stop expecting people to help you out. The term 'fresher syndrome' fits this best - in India, a fresher (to anything) expects to be treated easy, to have a path laid out at least for the first year. Not so in grad school in the US, where I have had to quickly realize that adults have to manage their own affairs and, most importantly, show results.

I could go on and on about the fundamental effects these months have had on me, but I will reserve that for a separate series of posts. But they have also been tiring - I have not had a break that goes beyond one weekend since the day I landed here (not counting the LCA Conference, which was officially work). And I am not complaining - it has been an exciting learning experience, both courses and research, and I am happy that my thesis is shaping up so well. But everybody needs a break, especially in the Christmas season. And so I too shall be taking a break for a few days.

Research for the year is done (well, one paper is due, but since it's a paid vacation, some work is acceptable); my table is cleared with an 'On Vacation' sign posted; my bags are (nearly) packed; and I've eaten whatever food I had cooked for the week. Now, it's just a long flight (two of them, rather) back to home. Only, will it really feel like home anymore? Or has life changed so much that, like it is for the Americans, it's now my parents' home? 

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