Graduate Student – Landscape Architecture
What would you do to pursue your dreams? We would like to believe we would do whatever it takes to accomplish a life goal. Shuvo Datta did just that. Looking to further his studies in water urbanization, Shuvo, a graduate student from Bangladesh, found an ideal opportunity in Texas Tech's Department of Landscape Architecture. Undaunted by COVID travel restrictions and being 8,500 miles away from family and friends, Shuvo left his subtropical home of over 20 million residents for Texas Tech in the pursuit of a wonderful future in his chosen profession proving that from here, it really is possible.
Tell us about growing up in Bangladesh and what brought you to Texas Tech.
“I am from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, a beautiful tropical south Asian country. Growing up in one of the most densely populated cities in the world and then moving to Lubbock, Texas, was a significant shift in my life. From a city bustling with people to somewhere that you can look furthest to see nothing except brownfields. I did my undergraduate degree in Architecture and wanted to pursue my higher studies in a specialized topic that relates to urban design. I was searching for a school that would allow me to align with my interest in water urbanism, to see the bigger dream, and help me explore new things. The offer to join the master's program as a Graduate Research Assistant in Fall 2020 from the Department of Landscape Architecture (DoLA), Texas Tech University, was a perfect fit for me. But the offer was during the crucial time of COVID when it was banned to travel abroad from Bangladesh. I was working as a full-time associate architect back then and still remember attending classes online at Tech from Dhaka at 11 pm Bangladesh time. It was hectic to join classes in the middle of the night after working the whole day in my office. But finally, the hard work paid off when the travel ban was lifted, and I got the opportunity to join the classes in person in the Spring of 2021. Lubbock welcomed me in January 2021 with a rush of snow and wind.”
What has been your favorite experience at Texas Tech so far?
“I will admit that the graduate study was a bumpy ride. Apart from hanging out in the lazy river after a long day, I have a special moment which is my favorite. Professor Dr. Daniel Phillips was my advisor, and I worked with him to build a new lab called Green Infrastructure Lab (GILL). Our own hands made the outdoor lab. From digging the dirt to concrete casting to planting to weeding to metal grinding with my colleague Md Kamrul Hasan, we had a great time outdoors. We learned many new things, and it created a bond with Daniel, which I will remember all the time. There was a lot to learn but more to enjoy working together. I am proud that we set up the lab, which will help new experiments in the future. Gradually I fell in love with this place and the semi-arid landscape of Lubbock.”
Talk about your involvement with campus organizations.
“I always enjoy working for the campus and people. My first semester did not go well as planned after moving away from my parents. Also, COVD restricted the casual meetups on campus. Being elected president of the Association of Bangladeshi Students and Scholars (ABSS) was an honor and relief for me. This organization helped me connect with people, and it was a great experience representing Bangladesh to the Texas Tech community. I focused more on the association's branding as an architect and tried to tie back the lost connection during COVID. I want to take the opportunity to thank my committee members and friends who helped me during this exotic journey. We organized football tournaments and several events to unite the community. We were active in celebrating spiritual beliefs as well as protesting religious prejudice against the minorities in Bangladesh. My committee celebrated ‘International Mother Language Day' with dignity. More than 400 guests from different communities attended the event. Apart from the delicious Bengali dish, we enjoyed some stunning performances of different cultures and languages.”
“ABSS allowed me to work for the community. Still I realized that to make an impactful change, I need to work with the Texas Tech International Affairs and the Student Government Association. The International Student Advisory Council (ISAC) led the path not only to signify my community but to work for the entire international student body. I served as the south Asian council chair. I worked with Dr. Sukant Misra and Beth Mora on issues like better transport facilities, raising safety protocols for students in Lubbock, reducing the cost of health insurance, ensuring food diversity on campus, and addressing discrepancies in housing to make TTU even a better place for international students. It was an exciting trek to work from the back end with the legislative authorities of Texas Tech. I am hopeful that the efforts of ISAC will be in action shortly.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a degree abroad?
“8,500 miles is a long way from home. International students study abroad to attend better academic facilities, improved job prospects, and high quality of life. However, the competitive admission process, increased tuition and living cost, and expensive and highly complex healthcare facilities in the US are some of the cons of studying in the US. Adapting to the new culture, weather, and language takes some time. The TTU International Affairs website is an excellent resource for preparing oneself to overcome these barriers faster. Finally, family and local food are the two most important things an international student sacrifices to pursue their dream. Being in the US without family and friends is the toughest. I lost my grandma last year in August, and it breaks my heart that I could not be there in her last moments. Although technology has brought the world closer, all the international students in various heartbreaking incidents cross some unavoidable difficult times. I am lucky to make many good friends and well-wishers who were always beside me during my accomplishments, sorrow, and happiness. Apart from the sacrifices, studying here at Tech allowed me to meet people from diverse cultures, create a gateway to travel to many US destinations, and explore unlimited choices of my interest.”
What advice can you give to other international students?
“My suggestions to the newcomers would be to explore all the opportunities at Texas Tech University. Library, SGA, SUB, Recreational Center, and TTU International Affairs were some of my favorite organizations apart from my study. No matter what, never be ashamed to express yourself. Take the advantages provided by Tech like Rec center, beyond okay, and counseling service. I took counseling during my hard times, and I am thankful to the Student Counseling Center for preparing me to accept reality. I am not ashamed of expressing it, and I would encourage students to take the therapy for a better present and future.”
As you think about your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
Finally, my journey at Texas Tech was a memorable one. I must mention the enormous support from Professor Dr. Muntazar Monsur and Professor Eric Bernard. I will only be proud if my contributions have made my faculties proud enough to inspire other students at Tech. My heartiest gratitude to my classmates and friends, specifically Kamrul, Saad, Rumman, Trina, Fatema, and Ohi, for making this journey memorable. Proud to be a Red Raider.
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