“Moving to the United States of America is every IT professional’s dream,” says Chandrashekhar Sundaresan who has been there since 2008.
By Vanasri Sridhar | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 11, 2021
Opening Doorz to Chandrashekar Sundaresan and his story of moving from India to the United States of America. Anyone considering relocating outside of India can learn from Chandrashekhar’s story and # StoriesFromOutOfIndia.
We at Opening Doorz are making an effort to help you make an informed decision (through stories like these) if you are one of those who are looking to make that move.
Chandrashekhar Sundaresan is currently working as an IT professional in the US since 2008. The 34-year-old has been living in the USA since 2012 and has been moving within the country to multiple locations according to the demands of his job. To date, he has lived in various locations in and around the USA like Windsor CT, Greensboro, Minot ND, Omaha NE, Philadelphia, West Chester. Currently, he is living in Parkersburg with his wife.
“Though I have been at home all my childhood (till I completed my Engineering and also joined my organisation in Chennai), my parents were supportive of my desire to explore new horizons. They did not stop me from moving anywhere in the world,” reveals Chandrashekhar.
Over to Chandrashekar.
What made you decide to shift to the US of A?
For a while, I was working on all of these projects from an offshore location. I desired to always work onsite at a client location, but I never intended it to be the US. However, all the clients I worked for were from the US, so the dream of settling in the US began there. When I moved initially, I came with an open mind. I decided to see how things moved and to take it easy. I have recently applied for a green card.
Throughout your childhood, you have been living in India. Did you find the initial days in the US easy or tough?
I would say it was more of a mixed feeling. The biggest shift I experienced in the US was the work-life balance. There is a healthy respect for your private time. Even though you have to do all the chores by yourself and manage a career, the surprising factor is that you still have some personal time for yourself!
While in India, a majority of the IT offices were located outside the city, so by the time we reached the place, we would already be tired, and because of that, we would even reach home late.
What part of the country’s tradition surprised you the most?
People here have a certain stereotype about Indians living here. I was asked to get rid of my inhibitions since every location is unique in its way. Here in the US, the general perception of Indians is that we are normally the loud talking types with a heavy accent. Not to mention the perfumes most of us use! Overall, the people here are friendly.
What do you miss most about India?
Food and family, of course! But the good part is (which many of my family members commented on) that I have stayed more connected to my family by having day-long chats. In India, I hardly had any time to chat with them! In India, I would leave for work as early as 6:30 am and be back by night around 10:00 pm, sometimes even later! The biggest advantage of living in India was that you would always have your food ready no matter what time you reached home.
The process of migrating can be quite a task. What tips would you recommend to those who are considering a move like this?
In my case, things had been initiated from my office. I hardly had to break into a sweat. If one does wish to settle abroad, it is best to first determine what your main objective is—whether you want to earn money and move back to your home country or whether you want to settle down in the country. If you want to settle down in any country, make sure you enter the country with the proper visa. You must do some groundwork. Also, you must save every penny you have earned.
What tips do you think, if you had known before, would have helped you during the process of documentation and migration?
I would not say it would have helped me, but every experience is unique in its way. At least knowing the basics would help. As Indians, the first thing we do whenever we move to a foreign country is convert the currency. For example, we say one dollar is Rs 70, so we spend 3 dollars, we say. “Oh my god, I spent Rs 210.” People should avoid doing that.
Secondly, no work should be labelled as a lady’s or a man’s job. If you want to make a shift abroad, you should know how to cook and do all the household chores. Here, you don’t have the luxury of hiring someone. Start doing household chores… I say this all those who are being treated as the laadla of the house. I was the laadla, but I am happy I came out of it.
How would you rate the quality of life in the US as opposed to India?
Good: the reason is better air quality. The amount of greenery you can see here, being in a city, is way more than what you see in India. Here you get to see thick layers of forest within the city’s limit. We also have a healthy work-life balance here. The cost of living is good if you are living in a smaller city, but if you are living in a bigger city, you have to adjust your life accordingly.
Any minus points?
Most of the time, people get frustrated here, and the immigrants are facing the wrath of it. If you are of coloured skin, they make sure they attack you in some way or another, but the same people also protect you if they feel some attack is going to happen. If in India, attacks are caste-based, here they are colour-based. It’s not a good thing for humanity.
Would you recommend a shift to Europe or any other foreign land for people who are toying with the idea? If so, what should they keep in mind before making the shift?
Ultimately, it is all up to the people and their aspirations. If people want to get to know the other side of the world as to how they are making their own progress, what their work culture is like, what their education system is like, it’s always good to move to that country and experience those things.
Affordability is a major concept. If you want to aim for something of that sort, make sure you do your groundwork in advance. Moving abroad and settling there is not an easy task. The easiest way to get a taste of life abroad is either to travel on your own before you settle in or get into a job that offers opportunities that will take you places. One also has to be well-equipped from an educational point of view.
Finally, everyone does not need to end up in the US alone. The world is a big place. There were a couple of my batch mates who went to places like Sweden and New Zealand for their higher education and have been living there for more than five years now.