When I was told that I was going to India I was both ecstatic and nervous. Now that my exchange has come to an end, I am so glad that I decided to come to India. I have less than a week left in my exchange and it is one of the most bittersweet moments in my life. I have made incredible, funny, and amazing friends while I have been on exchange and I am eternally grateful for their friendship.
Before coming on exchange Mark encourages students to research their country. The research that you find online and in books can never really prepare a person for the actual experience of being fully immersed in a new culture and lifestyle for two months. When you are living in a country that requires you to constantly be outside of your comfort zone, you discover new things about yourself. Living in India, I have become more open minded, optimistic, and culturally aware by trying new foods, learning a new language, attending a new school, and by making new friends despite having a cultural and linguistic divide.
Since the last time I wrote I have visited the hills once again. My new host family and I went to a small tourist destination called Kasauli. While in Kasauli I got to try Indian street food, had many encounters with wild monkeys, and had the best Indian food at this small restaurant near the Kasauli Club (it’s like the country club of India). The best part about travelling to India is the food. While in Kasauli I had an Indian street food called Gulab Jamun, an Indian sweet dish. It was delicious!
Sooner than I expected, it was May 13th, my last day of school in India at Vivek High. It’s true time flies when you are having fun! I spent my school days attending the humanities section classes like English, history, political science, legal studies and psychology. The most interesting class I took was psychology. Every day the teacher, Nilama Ma’am, taught the class at least one aspect of Indianism. Ma’am taught us the cultural value and use of traditional items like bindi’s, anklets, and bangles. She even gave me one of her dupatta’s, a thin shawl usually worn with a traditional Indian suit that goes over the chest and shoulders.
Though saying goodbye to my friends and family was hard, I am incredibly excited to be returning home. I wouldn’t trade my experience during exchange for the world. The memories, friendships, and personal growth that I made on exchange are things that I wish all students could experience. To my family, at home and abroad, thank you for making this trip one of a lifetime.
See you soon, India!