Sanjib Bhuyan is Associate Professor of the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (DAFRE)
Journey to the US to pursue dreams in the Land of Dreams and Promises!
It has been three decades since I landed in the San Francisco International Airport in late August 1990 from Bangkok, Thailand, where I lived. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offered me a full graduate assistantship and I was excited and looking forward to a new life in America. I was hungry and was looking for something affordable before my next flight to Lincoln. I remember I was surprised by the price of a chicken sandwich in a Burger King – it was expensive compared to what I paid in Bangkok! Welcome to America! When I landed in Lincoln later that evening, a group of strangers – all graduate students from both India and Pakistan – were waiting for me at the Lincoln airport and I had an excellent, warm welcome.
Besides learning how to drive in the snow, sleet, and ice, it was also in Lincoln that I had my first Halloween trick-or-treat experience and was mesmerized by falling snow when I saw it for the first time in my life that winter! I also had no idea what American Football was and now I am a life-long Husker fan! It was also in Lincoln where I learned how to cook. My first attempt to cook fish curry was disastrous to say the least – I had to call my mom back in India for advice!
Two years at UNL flew by and I left for my doctoral studies to UConn in August 1992. Storrs was a very small town then and barely had any amenities, so we had to drive out of town for grocery shopping, getting gas, etc. By the time I graduated in 1995, I had moved three times within the small town of Storrs. I spent over half of my time there with a doctoral student from China and his family. They were very kind, and I remember my time with them very fondly.
At UConn, life as a doctoral student was hectic – spent a lot of time in the library and a data repository in Hartford. Also studied like never before to pass the comprehensive exam. For my dissertation research, I had to change my research methodology completely AFTER I defended my research proposal! That was very stressful, and I am thankful to my close friend Ashok and my adviser, Prof. Lopez, for their encouragement and support during that difficult time.
Regardless of the hectic life at UConn, I still enjoyed my life at UConn with several other graduate students – they were excellent company and we had lots of fun together. Just before I graduated, UConn Women’s basketball team won their first National Championship in 1995 and I still remember the crazy celebration at the Gampel Pavilion! One memory I had about UConn was then-President Harry Hartley walking around campus, meeting with students, asking about their lives, inviting them for a beer at a specific local pub near Storrs. I left for Fargo, ND for a job at the North Dakota State University and was not able to attend the formal convocation. But I ordered the cap and gown and I still wear them when I attend SEBS convocations!