As my first introduction to Asian culture, traveling and living in India has been a thrilling journey that has allowed me to get to know myself deeper. While acclimating to a new home abroad might always feel overwhelmingly new at first, I have found it to be full of pleasant surprises and self growth. One of the first things I had to get used to was living with a roommate in a dormitory on Hyderabad University’s campus. I have never had a roommate before, but now I have made a new best friend and we are able to laugh, watch movies, process thoughts and travel together. As I reflect back on the two months that have already gone by in this beautiful country, I realize how important it was for me to have traveled here without any expectations. When I first set off to pursue this global education, I knew that there would only be so many ways to prepare in advance. I chose not to research any images of where I was going, for example, because I wanted everything to be as exciting and unknown as possible. While there was an avalanche of things to get used to in the beginning, one gets surprised with how quickly they are able to settle in and adapt. One of my favorite things to do in the first couple of weeks was visit the local grocery store. There was something about walking down aisles of food, reading the foreign labels, pronouncing new words, and communicating with the cashiers that gave me the sense I could organize my new life together. Going to a nearby shopping center was also a great way for me to go out with friends, practice different languages, try new foods and see the city. Figuring out how the local methods of transportation worked was another way in which I was able to feel independent, familiar with the neighborhood, and closer to the local way of life.
In addition to having no expectations when studying abroad, I would say that it is important to put yourself out there by keeping an open mind and saying yes to as many new experiences as possible. One of the best things about traveling is that no one knows who you are when you first arrive. In this way, one can reinvent themselves into anyone they wish to be. I made myself promise to try and be more outgoing and social. So far, I have joined a film club on campus, organized a group of friends together for a monthly cooking class, started playing basketball, and joined class study groups. All these activities have been full of inspiring and unforgettable people, conversations and perspectives. Apart from participating in social activities, I have also discovered how important it is to make time for relaxation. Whether it’s taking a run to explore campus and find new cafes, reading a book in my room, or finding a spot in the sun to stretch and do yoga, making the excuse to be silent has been a wonderful way to quiet my mind, remain balanced and reflect on my day.
To include a few more pieces of advice, I would say that it is important to remember that studying abroad is not just about school. Apart from the stress and deadlines, it is also necessary to have fun! Entering the world of food is another excellent way to do this. Recently, I have begun to try and have a cup of chai with someone new each week (chai is that one drink that seems to connect everyone here in India). Asking locals for recommendations when it comes to eating out or trying street foods, has also helped me develop a fearless attitude when it comes to tasting new things. Lastly, I would add that there are some practical things which have greatly helped me to travel comfortably. When studying abroad, one could consider bringing the following: flip flops, a towel, more than one adapter, a lock, a small backpack, tissues, hand sanitizer, a roll of toilet paper, an invisible fanny pack to wear under one’s clothes (for passports and cash) and a silk sleeping bag liner. Packing lightly and bringing comfort snacks or images from home is also a great way to help keep homesickness at bay. All in all, I would say that pursuing an education abroad is one of the greatest gifts one can choose for themselves. Once you embark, an explosive journey of color, smells, textures, tastes and sounds begins. Just get ready to feel proud, in awe, brave, connected and wildly alive!
Author: Lucia Rosero