This summer, scholar in residence Akshay Awasthi, of New Delhi, India, spent two months on the Norwich University campus conducting research with Professor of Computer Information Security Mich Kabay. Awasthi sought out Norwich’s computer security expertise in order to further his own studies in the field. In his third and final year at Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Noida Campus, Awasthi, a computer science major, spent June and July with Prof. Kabay’s assistance surveying bankers on multi-factor authentication in banking. One outcome of his research is the paper, “Mitigating cyber crime and identity thefts.”
Awasthi was recently accepted into Norwich’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Security and Information Assurance.
In this essay, he shares his thoughts on his cultural experience.
By Visiting Scholar Akshay Awasthi
“India is a cool place,” said the boy in a red hat when I first met him at the campus uniform store. His face had a smile as he and his father continued to explain that Indians had such a rich and diverse culture, that they had never experienced anywhere. That was a moment of pride for me, as I strained to hear their compliments. That was my first public experience at Norwich on the second day itself after my arrival.
I was touched by the new world I had been exposed to. Without question, my two months in Norwich changed my life in countless ways. From the minute I stepped off the plane at Burlington Airport, the vastly different sights along the clean street, the friendly and warm behaviour of every person, and my feelings of excitement about my new surroundings told me that I definitely was “not in New Delhi anymore.” My school helped greatly in modifying my attitudes, as for the first time I was with peers from countries which I had only read about or watched in the movies. Although it was sometimes difficult trying to find links between myself and my Chinese or American friends, I soon came to enjoy my new stir fry environment. By the time I left, I was wondering how I ever could survive the boredom of attending a homogeneous institution. This is not to say that, prior to this, I had been closed up in a bland box of a world. My exposure to these various different nationalities and cultures in Norwich built on my foundations of cultural awareness, rather than laying the cornerstone for it.
My understanding of my new environment was aided tremendously by my ability to speak English, and it subsequently proved to be one of the best assets I had. It helped me a lot with my research as well as making new friends without having any kind of fear of communication gap . An entire year of school lessons could not have provided me as much of the knowledge about information security as I learned from interacting with my professors. My proficiency in English helped me in shopping at the local stores, or interacting with the locals and getting to know about their culture even more. This was a rare opportunity.
Halfway through my best summer at Norwich I realized how much I’ve gained at this place and how much more I can gain if I come back here for a full time degree course. With this thought in mind I started enquiring about how I can get a transfer at Norwich and complete my degree here and then with the help of my professors and the staff from the International Centre I finally got the answers I needed.
India will never again seem the same to me. Traveling to the United States was like a trip that gave me the ability to look inside myself and discern my country’s faults as well as its numerous strengths. Like the American boy’s remarks, it made me happy to find that India is not the only country in the world with a rich and stimulating environment. With my new perspective, I saw that India was not what it had been. Then I thought for a moment and realized that India had not changed, but I had.