Introducing the newest member of Firm Ground, Vedshree Joshi
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine.
Two years back…. I stepped into the “Land of Dreams”, (USA) to pursue my master’s degree in architecture. I always believed that architecture is a dynamic profession and changes with time, place and people. Thus, to learn architecture from a different perspective I decided to study abroad and have a better understanding of the profession. Jokingly, my two years journey can literally serve as a blockbuster movie plot with twists, turns, suspense, a struggle for acceptance and a memorable journey of finding oneself. Let’s unroll it a little bit….
With an effort to always push myself and stretch my boundaries, I choose Ball State University, Indiana for its unique offering for Master’s in Architecture with Certification in Social and Environmental Justice which focused on sensitizing student’s perspective through addressing people-oriented architectural issues. While I was completely prepared for the challenges of a rigorous program, I faced several challenges like adjusting to a new life in a new country, suiting to the prevalent culture and having a work-study balance. The most important thing I learned was that independence brings more responsibilities and my day-to-day life here in the United States helped me to cope with this new independent lifestyle.
Growing up in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, Muncie (Ball State), and the cornfields provided relief to my rush. Reminiscing my first few weeks here, I can just say that being 24,000 miles away from my family didn’t feel fun at all in the beginning. From going to the bank, buying my own groceries, surviving without a car, cooking, cleaning, and still managing my classwork felt extremely overwhelming. Two years down the line, I think all those daily challenges paid off transforming me into a self-dependent person. I always felt blessed to have wonderful classmates with whom I have built a lifelong relationships, like Taylor, Molly, Erica, Emma, Nick, and Trevor who always helped and supported me through all the tough times, be it assisting in my roommate issue or helping me understand the difference between “shower” and “bath” or “high” and “drunk”.
From changing apartments 6 times in two years, living in 3 different cities, 2 different states and traveling to 8 major cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Madison, I could not ask for any more of a thrilling and adventurous life. Before you ask, when did I actually study? Let’s focus on my curriculum. Having a very technical approach towards architecture in my 5 years undergraduate degree, I sought to learn research-oriented designing. My Chicago Stockyards project with Prof. James Kerestes opened my world to understanding design through a novel (Rhino) software-based approach. On the other hand, with all my electives directed towards Social and Environmental Justice certification, I researched over several social aspects affecting the architecture of the United States like ethnic enclaves formed by refugees, the cultural quilt and the de-industrialization in cities like Gary, IN, Detroit, MI (Fourth World Theory). Coming from a third world nation, the United States always served to me as a technologically advanced nation. These classes helped me understand America through a different lens sensitizing my approach towards architecture. All this research finally culminated into my final thesis project which tried to address diversity on Ball State’s campus through architectural setting. The idea not only created a havoc in my life but also affected my mental well-being dealing with blows from several people like my thesis advisor who decided to give me a real-life feel of the idea I was working on.
After dealing with mental stress and trauma, and fighting depression, here I am finally graduated with flying colors and commencing my post-masters work with Firm Ground Architects and Engineers in Minneapolis, MN. As I find myself immensely lucky to meet such amazing people like Tom, Jeff, Dave, Gillian, Abbey, Ryne, Nick, and Glenn here, I am also gratified by their accepting and caring nature. Minneapolis has always been my favorite place while I visited it two years ago or now when I am actually living here. While I got connected to so many people here, I never felt that I have only been here a month ago. All thanks to my FG A & E people and my roommates who connected me to a wider spectrum of people.
Last but not least, every time I felt like quitting during my darkest times, I always felt that an invisible power was holding my back and supporting me with my parents trusting me throughout. Nonetheless, I can now confidently say that I have evolved to be a better person than I was, and I am extremely thankful to all the people involved in this process.
-Vedshree Joshi, Job Captain
“Tough times don’t last…. Tough people do…!!!!”