Avni Garg is the co-director for the international student affairs agency on student council. A third-year UVA student, she is double majoring in Computer Science and Economics and also volunteering as a VISAS language consultant.
Tell us about yourself.
Garg: I moved to the United States in 2015 where my father went back to study in Atlanta after a successful career. We moved again when he job a job in Northern Virginia and I finished high school at Oakton High School. At UVA, I spend my time as a Residential Advisor in Old Dorms, a Teaching Assistant for CS 1110, and volunteering with VISAS as a language consultant.
How was your journey back to Grounds?
Garg: My journey back to Grounds was quite eventful! I had to fly to India right before the third wave started there to change visa statuses to continue at UVA and it was a real eye-opener to what the rest of the world is still going through. It made me thankful that I was in a place that had hopefully moved beyond the worst of the pandemic and that I could resume life as normally as possible. On the way back, I encountered some difficulties with flights and travel times but it was all worth it to get back here and resume my studies.
How did your team support the incoming international students?
Garg: My Co-Director, David Yang, and I had a very honest conversation about how expensive it is to actually get from Dulles Airport to Charlottesville, sometimes costing upwards of a hundred dollars.
We also know how empty it is at the airport once you make it past immigration and if there isn't someone waiting for you on the other side, it can be very defeating, especially after such a long journey. We wanted to make this leg of the trip as easy as possible and our team put together a bus service with the help of the SAS branch from student council (shoutout Adrian Mamaril!) and International Students and Scholars office. The bus brought about a hundred international students back to Grounds where we had Global Greeters and other students welcome with care packages and helped get the students to their dorms. It was a lot of late-night meetings and planning on all ends, but I can honestly say the result made every moment worth it!
What are some of the things you are looking forward to this Fall when things are in person?
Garg: Some of the things I am looking forward to this Fall when things are in person are just walking from class to class and running into my friends on the way, walking on the downtown mall on the weekends, and taking in the general beauty of everything around me. It is going to be my first spring in-person and I am eagerly awaiting to see the Grounds in bloom!
What is your advice to other international students?
Garg: My advice to other international students is to put yourself out there. I realize it can be scary to and try something unknown, but you can potentially find something amazing, and if not, at least you tried!
I can say that some of my best experiences on Grounds have been when I've put myself out there like raising my hand in class to contribute or taking the initiative to start a conversation with someone I've never met before. This is an amazing place, so try to make the most of your time here!