Getting to India is no easy task, as I have figured out. Since I have gone abroad on an exchange program once already throughout my time as a Temple University undergrad, I thought I had the upper hand in this application process. I thought I knew how to travel safely and cost effectively, I thought I was decently “travel-savvy.” However from the extensive paperwork, to applying for a visa, to group meetings, to researching my independent study project, and to the endless questions about traveling 28 hours to the other side of the world India poses a new challenge for me and my pursuits to be a storyteller. I know that this experience will make me more mature and shape the way I think and act, be it scholastically, culturally, and socially. That said I definitely overlooked the fact that India is a developing country when I saw myself traveling there months ago…
For months now I have envisioned myself in a desert, where the food is rich with aromas and spices; the fruit is golden and juicy, and the people are friendly and interested in me. Pretty self-indulgent, right? This is exactly why it is time for me to travel to Asia, to the Indian province of Gujarat. It is time for me to reshape my westernized perceptions of the world and jump head first into life in a developing country. While I am excited to embark on this adventure abroad, I have more hesitations and concerns than I thought I would. Below are some of the constant thoughts that I have continuously circulating in my head:
-From malaria tablets, Hepatitis A, typhoid, to rabies, the immunizations are neither cheap nor fun.
-Language barriers will be a difficult task when I forget that not everyone can speak or understand my western English.
-Clothing? You mean I have to wear clothing that basically covers me up neck to foot everyday, in the desert, without AC?
-I thought the food was supposed to be delicious and fresh? Why can’t I brush my teeth with the water? Why have I been prescribed a variety of stomach medicines? And why is everyone warning me about it?
-$#%*, 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the dry dessert is definitely not my idea of a summer getaway.
-There’s no toilet paper outside of the house we are staying in, WHAT?
-Furthermore, how do I learn how to use these so-called Indian toilets (AKA holes in the ground).
These are only some of the more common thoughts that pop into my head when I think about departing for India in literally a month. This trip will not be like the exchange program I partook in last year, where I studied in England. This is nothing close. This is a new task, challenge, and chance for growth.