Kristin Lew’s Final Post from India

Today is Monday, May 14, 2012. It has been a while since I’ve written because I have been quite busy with school and beginning to organize myself to leave India. Today at morning assembly, the other exchange student from Germany and I had the opportunity to make a presentation about our schools, as well as about the experiences that we have had here and the memories we shared. I started with a speech describing Athenian and its mission statement, explaining the pillars and our campus. I then went on to describe the differences between the schools, such as uniform and calling teachers by their first names instead of ma’am or sir. Then I showed a short presentation, consisting of pictures, showing these past nine weeks in India. This made me so sad! It’s so hard to believe that only two months ago I left the SF airport, and in one weeks time I will be back home. It all went by so fast. These last few weeks of my exchange have been amazing!

For starters, I went to my first ever cricket match: Punjab vs. Deccan Chargers. I was told before that Punjab (the team we are rooting for) hasn’t won a match at the home stadium in a really long time and most likely we are going to lose. Cricket is a really long game. It consists of two “innings” where the teams take turns playing offense and defense (batting and being in the outfield), but each inning lasts about two and a half hours because you have to wait until the team gets out 20 times or there are 120 balls thrown. The beginning of the match was, honestly, a little boring. But as the second inning approached, the stadium began to get CRAZY. We sat on the terrace, which is supposed to be the “happening” place. There were people dancing and blowing whistles in your ears, screaming and yelling for both teams. There were flags waving through the air, as people stood on the seats clapping and hollering! It was a sight to see. The match got super exciting when Punjab only needed 16 runs in 4 balls to win. Everyone was yelling “we want a 6!” (The team gets 6 points if you hit a ball outside of the boundaries without it bouncing, sort of like a home run) Sure enough, they did it! Before you knew it, Punjab needed one run with one ball to win. The stadium was so tense and people were waiting in anticipation as the ball was thrown. And believe it or not, WE WON! There was celebrating and everyone was hugging each other and jumping up and down. It was so exciting, even I was screaming–and I hardly understand the game.

Lately at school, I have mostly been having a lot of fun, meeting new people and attending classes. Vivek got me involved in the music program there. They asked me if they could record my voice singing the school song, so they could play it at assemblies every Monday. On Monday May 7th, I went into their radio room and recorded their school song.  They played the following Monday at assembly and apparently it will be played even after I leave.

All the friends here that I have met are amazing. Everyone is so nice and friendly, and they ask me lots of questions about the United States. In fact, many, including my host Ekam, are applying to schools in the U.S. next year for college. It was really weird to think about at first, but to them I have an accent. I have gotten plenty of comments about how I say words like: ‘mango, squirrel, aluminum’ and much more. Some seem to think it’s entertaining to hear me speak in an “American accent.”

One weekend with my host Vedika, I had the opportunity to wear a traditional Indian garment, a saree. Vedika had actually never worn one before so it was a new experience for both of us. Vedika’s mom lent us her saree’s to try on and she taught us how to tie one, which seems complicated at first because the saree consists of a large piece of fabric that you drape around yourself. Mine was blue and Vedika’s was black and gold.  Once we had the saree’s on we went outside and took tons of pictures just for fun.  Her mom and grandmother urged us to go out in public wearing the saree, which was quite embarrassing but loads of fun.

Within these past weeks I was also able to visit the rock garden, which is quite a sight to see in Chandigarh. It is basically a garden that has been constructed by a local artist who reused everyday items and incorporated them into his work. By doing this, he created this whole tourist attraction where people can walk through and see his work. In the central area of the rock garden, they were offering camel rides! So Vedika, a couple of her friends and I all went on a camel ride.

I will be returning to the Bay Area on May 22. Though I am missing home and I am excited to see everyone, I will dearly miss everyone in India that I have met. I have gotten so close to my host families, especially Vedika and Ekam.  I just never want to say goodbye! India has been unexpected but absolutely amazing.  I couldn’t have wished for a better experience! Come on exchange to India, and see you all soon!