This post is a part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT students. Enjoy!
December 31st of 2009 has become one of my most memorable birthdays. I arrived in the United States to begin graduate school on that very day. Travelling from the northern part of Bangladesh, it was my longest birthday as well, lasting for 36 hours in between two different time zones. I spent most of the ensuing years in South Carolina before moving to Austin in 2013 for my doctoral studies. It has been 5 long years of hard work, but if everything goes as planned this year I will graduate by summer and earn my PhD in Environmental Engineering.
Being so near to the end of this long journey is an incredible feeling, but I look back on my time in the U.S. with a bit of longing. I would need a very long list to catalog all of the things I have accomplished during my time abroad, but my proudest accomplishment has been conducting and publishing my own research. Research is an integral part of graduate study. My work is experimental, and I love being in the lab, working to prove or disprove hypotheses through designing experiments. Alongside research, I have enjoyed being with the people of Austin and exploring the nearby attractions. Sadly, the life of a graduate student has not allowed me as much freedom to travel and explore as I would have liked. Since the beginning of the semester, I have been building a bucket list of things that I would like to do before I graduate.
At the top of the list is to attend a home football game. I am not a crazy fan of football, but I wish to experience the energy and excitement that pervades the stadium when the Longhorns take to the gridiron. Next on my list is to see the one million bats that migrate to the South Congress Bridge each spring. Also, I would like to take a day to enjoy the park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. To explore Texas’ great outdoors, I would like to go kayaking on Lake Austin during a warm summer day. All of these things are quintessentially Texan, and I would be greatly disappointed if I were to leave without these experiences. Last on my bucket list is a challenge met by many a collegian in Austin, but I have yet to conquer: pull an all-nighter at PCL library. It may not be unique to Texas, but I would feel my UT experience would be sort of incomplete without it.
Over the past five years, I have had the experience of a lifetime, and I have no regrets of the time spent in my studies. However, there are few parts of the U.S., and especially Texas, that I wish to see before I go. I suggest to all of you that you empty your bucket lists before it is too late. The final months of completing theses and dissertations alongside hunting for jobs can be very hectic, but we should all appreciate the things that make graduate school a truly holistic experience. I certainly will.