“One of the things that appealed to me about the SelfScore card was the support I felt from Kalpesh—he was there to help me out when anything went wrong. I had another card at the time but whenever I reached for one or the other, that trust that he had in me made me pick SelfScore. When I signed up, I felt like, ‘This is the right thing to do.’”
Shrirang Adgaonkar is one of those impressive characters who meets every challenge effortlessly. When asked about the barriers he faced in choosing to study in the US, he casually mentions applying to multiple US schools “just to see what would happen.” He was easily granted admission to all of his top choices including Arizona State University where he’s currently studying computer science with an emphasis on data analysis—easy, no?
We were drawn to Shrirang not only because of his talents in the classroom but his good fortune in financial matters. After less than a year of responsibly using his SelfScore card for everyday purchases, he was offered an American Express credit card with a generous $8,000 spending limit. We sat down recently with Shrirang as he shared the lessons he learned from the TV show Friends, why his challenging job as a data analyst really isn’t such a challenge after all, and the one thing that still confuses him about the US.
What was the biggest culture shock for you in the US?
I think it was the way faculty members act here. Back home they are very strict. Here they are so friendly and easy to talk to. The other thing was driving. That was a bit tricky. When I first came here, I had to remind myself, “Whoa, left side!” [Laughs]
Tell me about your experience applying to come to the US. Were there any problems or difficulties in that process?
Well, I took the exams, the TOEFL and the GRE, and then I sent some applications, not expecting anything. Then I got into everywhere I applied and chose ASU. When I decided to do my master’s, I took out a personal loan. Then I knew when I got a part-time job, I’d be able to cover my living expenses and still be able to save.
Tell me about your work experience as a data analyst.
Honestly, it’s been easy. It’s just like what I have to do in my studies. What I study is the same as what I do in my job so it’s a perfect balance. It took me a little while to find that balance when I first started because the material was so new to me but as soon as I found that balance, it became easy.
That’s ideal. What new opportunities are available to you now that you have credit?
Well, I was thinking of buying a car. Then I’m thinking let’s finish this master’s degree program and get a full-time job then worry about getting a car. [Laughs]
We spoke with Adeel Hasan recently about how movies helped him understand American culture before he came here.
Yes. Watching movies and TV before you came to the US helps you not only understand the culture and the way people act but it also helps the language barrier fall away faster. It’s easier to understand how people speak and what every word means.
Tell me about the first piece of US culture that really impacted you.
Maybe it was the TV show Friends. I remember those small rooms that they had and thinking everyone lives in small places in the US. Then I came here and the housing is so big. There’s a lot of space.
In Arizona there’s space. In San Francisco, not as much.
Yes, that’s true. I was visiting my sister there in December and it was packed. We drove everywhere and it was so crowded I was like, “Whoa.” I’m glad to be back here [in Arizona] where there’s space and it’s warm. [Laughs]
Can you tell me a little bit about the differences between the US and Indian financial systems with regards to credit.
I was new to this credit system. My first credit card was through you guys. I had a friend who told me everything I should know about credit. He told me about how to maintain a balance between earnings and spending and how to maintain it without complications. The idea is to get your balances to zero so that your credit score doesn’t drop.
What inspired you to get your first card with us?
One of the things that appealed to me about the SelfScore card was the support I felt from Kalpesh [Kapadia, SelfScore founder and CEO]—he was there to help me out when anything went wrong. I had another card at the time but whenever I reached for one or the other, that trust that he had in me made me pick SelfScore. When I signed up, I felt like, “This is the right thing to do.”