I have been in India for about six weeks now and my time here has gone by so fast. My first week here, my exchange host, Kesang, and her family took me around to see a few different cities: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Delhi was different than anything else I was used to. It is a fast-paced city with a lot of history behind it. I was surprised to see many camels along the side of the road, and cows in the middle of the road, inches away from the car. Going to Agra and seeing the Taj Majal was definitely a highlight of my time here. It is absolutely beautiful and it has a very interesting history. In Jaipur, we went to a re-created village. I got to ride both an elephant and a camel, watch some traditional dances, and get my first henna done! There were also many markets in Jaipur, where I had the opportunity to buy two saris and other Indian clothing.
When I first arrived at the Lawrence School, Sanawar, I was greeted by so many people, all with big smiles on their faces. Everyone was so sweet, which made it easy to adjust. The only challenge I had was remembering all of the names. There were times that I was talking to people and they knew who I was but I could not think of their name. I always found myself asking Kesang or the other exchange students what their names were. After a few weeks, I started to catch on to more and more names and now I don’t have to think about it anymore.
Coming to India, I knew the school was going to be much different than Athenian, but I never imagined that it would be as different as it is. I have never gone to a boarding school, so I had to make quite an adjustment. After the first couple of days, I finally got used to it. The dorms here aren’t like the dorms at Athenian. We don’t have our own room or have one or two roommates. We have 50 roommates and the beds are lined up one after another. When my exchange first told me about this, I was a little scared to be in a room with that many people, but now the time that I spend in the dorms is one of my favorite parts of the day.
At Sanawar, I am in the 11th grade, but since the school year is different here (February-December), I am the same age as everybody in my batch. In 11th and 12th grade, the students get to choose which classes they want to take, including humanities and commerce. I chose to take the humanities classes. Some of my classes include psychology, economics, and geography. I love taking these classes because they are so different than the classes back at Athenian.
A few weeks after I arrived, the 11th grade girls went camping in a town called Rishikesh. We woke up early in the morning, left at 5am, and drove for ten hours. We arrived at our camp on the side of the Ganges in the late afternoon. While there, we took a bike tour through a village, went on a beautiful hike that overlooked the river, and on the last day we got to raft in the Ganges. During the extra time we had there, the girls taught me how to play cricket, we had a huge game of soccer, and we all played a game called “throw throw.” Throw throw is similar to volleyball, but rather than hitting the ball, you catch it and throw it back over the net. Going to Rishikesh was one of my favorite times throughout my exchange, and I will always remember how much fun it was.
My time in India is quickly coming to an end. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to live here for two months. No amount of time sitting in a classroom could have taught me what I have learned here. I have made so many friends and memories that I will never forget. I know I’m going to miss it here so much.