At at age of ten, Shreshta Kota’s parents moved to the United States but she remained, at Narayana IIT academy, an all-girls boarding school in Southern India.
Her classes at the boarding school started as early as 6 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. but students were encouraged to keep studying for the next nine hours.
Throughout her childhood, adjusting time around academics was standard. “In my family, they give a lot of value to education so everything comes after studies,” said Kota.
Since the age of 12, flying to visit her parents every summer, which often took 24-26 hours, Kota became fascinated with various cultures she witnessed at airports from Qatar to Germany.
“If you’re interested in learning about other cultures, you’ll always like it,” she said. During breaks, Kota said that she sometimes encourages friends to attend cultural events. Earlier in October, Kota invited Student Senate members, including freshman class president Emma Dillon, to attend an Indian Festival in Albany.
“When I used to travel a lot, I would ask a lot of questions to the people around me and I had so many different cultural experiences,” said Kota. Her experiences later inspired Kota, who speaks three different languages, to run for president of the Foreign Language and Culture Club.
Born in Hyderabad, which has a population of 3.6 million people, she mentioned, moving to East Greenbush under her father’s VISA was a major change from living back in the Indian city. “It was weird for me in the beginning because I came from a place like New York City and I [now] live in a place where every apartment is so far from another,” she said.
Along with adjusting to space, Kota has struggled to adjust to Upstate New York temperatures, growing up with temperatures sometimes reaching 104 degrees during the summer months. “The climate is really overwhelming,” said Kota who experienced her first snowfall last November.
While withstanding temperatures, Kota was impressed by cultural freedoms which are still limited by tradition such as the ability to get divorced without shame. “You should think about [yourself] first,” said Kota.
Although Kota favors progressive aspects of Western culture, she still misses pieces of her past back home. Kota makes an effort to keep communication strong with family living across the globe. “My grandparents are really sweet. I love them and I really miss them a lot,” she said.
As Kota remains in the United States, despite missing family and friends, she looks forward to becoming a citizen. “I want to go back to India but I don’t want to stay there. I love the culture and I love the people here,” said Kota.