A Bond of Friendship that Knows No Bounds
As children, we often are blessed to have a best friend – a special someone who we hope will remain with us throughout all the days of our lives. For Kent State international students, Shivani Patel and Saloni Parekh, that hope has remained steadfast and true. Shivani, a sophomore studying construction management, and Saloni, a freshman studying art education, have been best friends for eighteen years, nearly their entire lives. They grew up and attended school together in the state of Gujarat in India. From an early age, the two knew that they would one day live, study and travel together.
While still in high school in India, Shivani was the first of the pair to be inspired by the idea of studying abroad for college. Her passion to pursue an international education led Shivani to attend a local seminar, which was hosting colleges and universities from all over the world. While at this seminar, Shivani became acquainted with Kent State University for the first time. Soon after the seminar, Shivani decided that Kent State was the university she wanted to attend. Within a short time, she enrolled and was admitted. Her dream to study abroad had quickly become a reality.
During her first year at Kent, Shivani acclimated well to academic life in the United States. She truly enjoyed experiencing new things and meeting new people. While in her first year, Shivani realized that the only way things could be any better was if Saloni was attending Kent State with her.
During her first semester, Shivani took an art class for her Kent State core requirement. Shivani quickly realized that her best friend Saloni, who was finishing her senior year back in India, had often express an eager interest in pursuing a career in art. In the resulting long-distance conversations between the two friends, Shivani vividly described her art class and what school was like at Kent State to Saloni. The more Saloni heard, the more she wanted to attend Kent State. Ultimately, it was pictures of campus, which Shivani sent to her, that convinced Saloni that she too wanted to attend Kent State.
Since arriving on the Kent State campus this past fall, Saloni has loved every second of living with her best friend and attending classes at Kent State.
One of Saloni’s initial activities on campus was attending new international student orientation. Saloni recalls that many of the speakers at orientation talked about culture shock and what new students should expect in the coming weeks. Saloni and Shivani both chuckled at the mention of cultural transition and explained that neither of them experienced any culture shock. “Everyone here is so friendly, we had no shock, and we had a very smooth transition,” Having an additional year of experience on campus, Shivani further explains: “Even if someone comes to Kent with no friends, it is fairly easy to meet people and become involved.” Both Shivani and Saloni emphasized that their transition from living in India to living in Kent was not overly difficult. Of course, one of the things that was truly a shock was Ohio’s unpredictable and cold winter weather.
For Shivani, the cooler weather was a delightful surprise. For her, experiencing snow was definitely an enjoyable part of living in Kent. Not so Shivani. “My favorite part of living here is that things are more sorted, I’ve been able to learn a lot more, I am getting more experiences and opportunities than I would back home.”
“My favorite thing about Kent State is simply everything,” Saloni continues. “But the absolute best is living with my best friend. It is amazing that we do everything together. Having your best friend by your side makes things like cooking and shopping that much more entertaining and enjoyable. “
While in America, both have made travel and sightseeing their top priority – after their studies of course. During her time here, Shivani has already travelled a small amount, but now she is eager to travel with her best friend. “Why be best friends if you don’t want to travel together?” laughs Shivani. The pair is eagerly looking forward to a camping trip in Tennessee next summer, as well as visits to the famously beautiful cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles in California.
The story of Shivani and Saloni truly brings to light the notion that the bonds of friendship know no distance. What better way to undertake studying and travelling in a foreign country than with your best friend by your side.