Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu has made her move from India to America, to spend a year working with the Miss Universe Organisation.
The beauty queen became the third woman from India to win the Miss Universe crown in December, taking the title from Mexico's Andrea Meza after she beat out 79 other contestants in the global pageant that was held in the resort town of Eilat, Israel.
Sandhu will now reside in New York throughout her year-long Miss Universe reign, where she will work towards her goals and the wider aims of the organisation. Sandhu is a strong advocate for women's empowerment, particularly their constitutional rights to education, careers and their freedom of choice, inspired by growing up working with her gynaecologist mother at health camps addressing women's health and menstrual hygiene, according to the Miss Universe website.
On Thursday, Miss Universe posted a video of Sandhu arriving at her New York apartment, where past pageant winners have spent their year abroad.
"I'm so, so, so excited. I've waited for this day since I think I was 1," she says in the clip, before she walks into a beautiful, large and modern apartment that she says is "newly designed".
As she enters her new bedroom, she finds a letter from Meza on the bed. "Welcome to the sisterhood and welcome to your new home," it reads.
"I'm trying to control my emotions," says Sandhu, who is visiting New York for the first time. "Imagine, I came from India, had a fly over in Doha, then a 14-hour flight to New York."
Sandhu reveals she also lost her luggage for the first time. "But I'm not panicking, because I'm here, I'm living the dream."
A few days later, she experienced her first snowfall in the city, and shared the experience in a Reel to her 3.3 million followers on Instagram, showing her bundled up in a cosy jacket, captioning the post: "The first of many."
Another first came on Monday, when she shared images of her first ferry trip and a dinner at modern Thai restaurant Pinto Garden, which in turn shared photos of the beauty queen on their own account, writing: "Your beauty [brightened] up the restaurant."
Sandhu is from Chandigarh, India where she grew up and attended university. Before winning Miss Universe 2021, she was studying for her master’s degree in public administration. She is a model but has also starred in Punjabi films Yaara Diyan Poo Baran and Bai Ji Kuttange.
In recent weeks, Sandhu has also expressed her desire to break into Bollywood.
"Given a chance, I would love to be a part of it, because that has been my dream. I am an actor by profession, I've done theatre from the last five years," Sandhu, 21, told The Times of India, also saying that she would love to make her debut with superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
"I have a vision of influencing people and breaking stereotypes of what women are and what they can be, and that can happen through acting. Because in today's times, people get so intimidated, so influenced by movies. That's the way I can influence people and inspire them by following my passion, just doing the best for the society."
Look back at Harnaaz Sandhu's Miss Universe journey here: