Campus was buzzing in the spring with mention of an Indian reality TV show, which featured current Geneseo freshman Cuckoo Gupta. “College Hunt USA” features college-bound high school students in India who choose between three colleges in the U.S., according to a press release from the U.S. Consulate Mumbai.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln initially invited Gupta on the show as an opportunity to tour the Midwest campus. After completing her application, she went through a few Skype interviews and a camera audition.
But initially, Gupta said she and her family were skeptical of the show and even coming to the U.S. to attend college.
“I had given up on coming [to] the U.S. and studying,” she said. “I had applied to 11 universities. I got into 10, but I did not get scholarships. That was the worst feeling.”
Around the time she was preparing to attend the University of Dublin, Gupta received a call from the show's director asking if she was interested in being on “College Hunt USA.”
“In a month's time my bags were packed and I was in the U.S.,” she said. “I learned a lot through these three universities, but the best part was I loved meeting new people.”
While the show was in production, Gupta had the option of picking from six schools. The UNL, Ohio Wesleyan University and Geneseo made the final roster of colleges to visit.
Gupta, now a self-proclaimed proud Geneseo student, was drawn to rural Western New York due to the friendliness of the student body and a liberal arts education.
While it is commonplace for most Indians to stay in the country for college, some do not. Out of Gupta's class of 24, 21 attended college outside of the country.
“In India, everyone has to go to college … There it is not about your resume … or who you as a person; it's all about grades,” she said. “It's extremely, extremely competitive.”
As a communication major in the journalism track, Gupta said she is looking to go into film and TV. Though she said she is fairly certain she wants pursue the field, she wants to be able to explore her interests.
“You know, again, it comes back to the culture. In India, everyone is very committed to what they do,” she said. “Of course, I am sure that I want to do film studies; I want to work in TV shows … but at the same time there is this back voice saying, 'What if I change my mind?'”
So far, Gupta has been adjusting well to her new environment. Though this is the first time she has been away from home for an extended period of time, she said she is enjoying taking in the names, faces and sunsets that Geneseo has to offer.
“Usually, when I don't have class, I come two hours before the sun sets, but I don't mind sitting alone,” Gupta said. “Half of the time you actually meet people.”
“It's been two weeks [since I moved in], and I haven't had a day where I feel lonely,” she said. “Everybody is always ready to help you. I just love the people here.”