“Here I AM!” were my first thoughts as I got off the fourteen hour flight. The young Latina-Dutch woman made it across the ocean from the cold and rainy mountains of North Carolina to the sunny and explosive land of India. Never had I been so alert, afraid, excited and in awe. All the cultural differences flooded toward me as soon as I landed. Animals roamed freely in the streets; delicious herbs, spices and incense filled the air; the bustling sounds of billions of people moving to and fro occupied space and time in an entirely new way. The saturation of colors shone and sparkled in every place I looked; in the cheerfully colored houses, the beautiful and billowing saris, the food, the painted buses and autorick-shaws, in people’s hair and jewelry, and in the greater landscape. I remember feeling as though I were at a wedding because everyone and everything around me seemed to stand out in such vivid ways, but no, this was just another ordinary day in India.
As a spring semester student studying in Hyderabad, the contrasts of my study abroad experience have already become apparent. Classes here are lecture heavy and the material explores refreshingly new global perspectives on history, politics, society, human relations, religion, gender, sexuality and more. Rather than using computers, students swiftly write their notes by hand. They are expected to memorize lecture content and questions are not often encouraged. As someone who is used to typing notes online and asking many questions back home, I am not accustomed to this style of teaching. Yet, along with the exposure to many new things here, I am learning to adapt quickly. One of the best things about studying abroad is the exhilarating challenge one faces to acclimate and thrive in a new environment. The more I connect with people, add new Hindi words to my vocabulary, translate symbols from Devanagari to the English alphabet, travel, play new sports, taste new foods, listen to new music and grow accustomed to new ways of dressing and moving through daily life, the more I have come to cherish the opportunity to be an active observer and listener.
Each day my world is enriched further through its expansion into the world at large. As a global citizen with an identity that does not entirely come from one place, living and studying in India drives my hunger to expose myself to as many contrasting customs as possible. As I dive further into all the riches that this country has to offer, I feel myself learning more about my own frameworks, habits and values. And along with the new relationships I am forming with local Indian students, I am gaining a deeper insight into the complexities of social and cultural traditions. I know this semester abroad will help me narrow down my next steps on the road to becoming an effective, educated and empathetic advocate for equality and social justice. I look forward to seeing how I mature and grow as a person, and I hope that my remaining time here will only add more layers of wisdom, curiosity, self love and gratitude.
Author: Lucia Rosero