My final few days in India are upon me now and I can’t believe I’m heading back to the U.S. The time has flown by. It does feel like I’ve been here for many weeks, because I’ve had so many experiences and gotten so used to living here, but at the same time it feels like my exchange should not yet be over. I feel like I haven’t experienced enough–and maybe I never will. There is so much of the world to take in, and even two months is short when faced with a new country.
My new host family (my old host, Tiya, left for exchange five weeks after I arrived in India) took me to an Indian wedding during my first weekend with them. We went for one day of the reception. Attending an Indian wedding was something I was really looking forward to on my exchange, and it was so much fun. I borrowed my outfit and jewelry from my host family. For shoes I wore a pair of juttis that I purchased in Kasauli. I loved getting all dressed up. The area for the reception of the wedding was decked out in strings of lights that glowed through the night.
At the wedding itself, there wasn’t much to do, but I was never bored—I spent my time looking around at all the beautiful outfits. Stretching around the reception were endless counters of food, from all different regions, being prepared right there. My host Shamshir and I ate tons of Chinese food and pasta, and I even managed room to try a few bites of several different desserts. The entire experience was so much fun for me. I’ve never been to anything like that before, so I’m so happy I got the chance to go for the reception while I was here in India.
We visited the Taj Mahal at the beginning of May. As someone who prefers cold weather, the heat was difficult to bear, but the Taj Mahal was beautiful. The symmetry, architecture, and detailing on the mausoleum was incredible, and it has been standing for hundreds of years.
Upon entering the mausoleum, we had to don shoe covers, and photography was not allowed inside. Our guide told us later as we circled the outside that the four towers standing out from each corner were not built straight, but instead leaned slightly out. This, he explained, was so that if there were ever a severe earthquake, the towers would fall outward, and not damage the Taj Mahal. It was made to withstand time, and it has; due to its worldwide fame, it’s well taken care of. The dead lying within surely didn’t imagine that the mausoleum would someday be a tourist site when the building was created to last a long time.
After exploring the grounds, entering the building itself, and seeing the tomb, we left. We went straight to buy huge bottles of water before we looked around at items for sale, and eventually headed back to the car.
The new school year started six weeks ago. In school, my closest friends are Harnoor, Nandana and Japun. We often hang out after school. Sometimes we go to the mall here, Elante, and consume vast amounts of pizza, while other times we just watch How To Get Away With Murder. I’m going to miss everyone so much when I leave in a couple of days.
This past week, the weather hasn’t been as hot, and it even rained. When I heard the thunder I rushed outside and stood in the rain for a good 15 minutes. Then my host mom and I went on a walk through the rain as it slowed and finally stopped. We made our way down the street and through the row of parks. Though it wasn’t a big thing we went out and did, it was one of my favorite experiences. I wish the rain would come back.
I’ve had so much fun here, and everything seems very normal to me. I can’t imagine going back to the U.S. right now—I’m not ready to leave. I’m so glad I got to have this experience. I think when I get home I will realize more fully the truly profound impact of exchange, and how much I have grown and changed while here. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity and experience.