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Ajay Raghava, Ministry of the Environment and Forest, National Ganga River Basin Authority in India, offers advice for new fellows to have the best experience

Ajay RaghavaFrancine: Okay, Ajay, it's been illuminating talking to you thus far. What have you observed or experience as an international scholar this year to help you with cultural adjustment in the U.S.? What did you bring, what do you share and what have you learned that you'd like to share with other people?

AJAY RAGHAVA: Good thing about the Humphrey Fellowship Program is that you know about your selection three months, at least three months in advance. So you get pretty good time to learn about the host country that you are going to. So my advice will be for the Fellows who have not been to U.S. earlier to study about the country, not only about the foreign policy issues which comes up everywhere, but also to know something about the people. Know about the state of the country in which you are going. That means if you are coming to Cornell, Cornell is situated in New York, so it will be a good idea to know something about the state as a whole.

I, personally, had not lived in New York, although when I was there (U.S.) previously I was based in Washington D.C., and sometime in California. U.S. is a very diverse country. So although there is homogeneity in certain aspects, there are cultural differences between states. So it will be a good idea to go into resources online to speak to people who have been to U.S.

Personally the orientation program which the Fulbright Commission back home in India had for two or three days, was a good experience in which we could interact with the past Fulbright as well as Humphrey Fellows who have been to U.S. So it is good that you know something, and it will give you a head start in terms of cultural adjustments. There is a cultural adjustment not only in terms of the language, if you're not speaking English. Even if you're speaking English the accent may be different, so you need to know something about the way Americans speak. It is a good idea to see some videos on YouTube or maybe see some movies, if you have not seen American movies and to get some idea about the kind of language you expect. It is also a good idea to, to know that the food which you are going to eat there will be different. So if you are not able to cook yourself it will be good that you know or what you expect there. In terms of climate, because Ithaca is a cooler place so you have to...

Francine: Always? Is it always cold?

AJAY RAGHAVA: Yeah it's, it's quite cold for five to six months depending on the place you are arriving from, and in summers it is a good place to go out. So you need to be mentally prepared where you are going to land, and you should not be shocked that you have come in a very strange place and then you start thinking about it. So you have to mentally groom yourself for the next three or four months when you get selection on how you're going to handle the situation there, and you have to be, most of the people come without families so that's a big adjustment which you have to make for the time when you are away from your family. So I think some kind of activities which you have to plan in your, in your period when you're not doing any academic or professional work what you're going to do. So that makes you busy and you don't feel alone. So these are the kind of adjustments which I personally did, and I am not repenting what I did. I believe that I'm enjoying my time here, and hope to have more fruitful outcome from the rest of the period I am here in U.S.