Abhishek Agarwal
3 min readJun 7, 2020

I reached John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, USA on Cathay Pacific Airlines after travelling more than 24 hours from Kolkata, India. Taking a luggage cart was an option but I avoided it as taking it would have costed me five bucks so instead, I dragged my two big trolley bags, one cabin trolley and a backpack. You can guess I was in my INR (Indian Rupee) mode and conversion rate at airport was more than 85 INR against 1 dollar. In India, one can have a very fulfilling meal in 85 rupees. Following all the exit symbols and after completing immigration check-ins, I, filled with joy and happiness, came outside towards waiting lounge in the airport. There was a sense of achievement in me and when I looked around, everything seemed very fascinating. With curiosity, I gazed at everything to absorb as much information as possible in the shortest time. I didn’t make any reservations with any travel company in advance but had read about Shuttle service so at airport, I decided to use GO Airport Shuttle that would take me to New Haven — place I would call my home for two years. After waiting for few minutes, I boarded the cab to take first of many rides from New York to New Haven.

JFK Airport Credit: Getty Images

During my way to New Haven I met with other two students from Yale SOM. They sounded very smart and started the typical introduction round. I was very overwhelmed, and it became even difficult to speak in plain English, leave alone the accent part. So, I decided to take a small nap, but the cab driver was very welcoming and was trying to strike a conversation. I had read somewhere about the strained relationship between Yale and New Haven residents, so I enquired about it. He was trying to keep me awake after realizing that I needed a nap after tedious flight. I was sitting next to him in front seat and he made sure that taking a nap must not be an option. Reluctantly enjoying my drive, I appreciated everything around me, starting from automatic transmission of the cab, to flyovers around highways.

After reaching New Haven, the cab driver announced that I would be the last one to get off the cab. I desperately need some rest but didn’t have an option, so I traveled around New Haven and the experience was surreal. I could feel the excitement in my heart and strange emotions of gratitude and pride swept over me. Until then, it was merely a dream to study in a historic place such as Yale for someone like me from a remote place in India without having any high-level connections. I felt that I was living a dream in some gaming console and it was very difficult to believe that surrounding was real. For the first time, I experienced a perfectly managed pavements with smooth shiny black pitch roads, well-managed traffic symbols and beautiful landscapes.

At my address, I was greeted by my neighbors who were having a nice conversation in open. I unpacked my luggage, set up my room and relaxed for the day. My first social interaction with SOM student happened at a bar where I met many new people (future leaders of business and society), introduced myself multiple times and tried to survive the evening. Looking back, I believe it was challenging for me to have small talks but after spending a year, I improved a lot through my MBA experience- an experience I signed up for when I decided to pursue my MBA at Yale SOM. Thanks to my friends and learning team for supporting me throughout.

My recruitment experience was filled with many ups and downs and I will share my recruitment experience in comings posts.

Abhishek Agarwal

Expert in data analytics & AI, driving global-scale platform development. Amazon Sr. Product Manager. Yale MBA. AI/ML leader.