Taj Mahal visit and Conclusion of trip

Leaving Hubli was an emotional experience. We had to say goodbye to all but two of our great friends that we have made over the past two weeks. However, we all knew it was coming, and also know that we will meet again. Fortunately, we get to have Praful and Riya accompany us on the trips to Delhi and Agra.

Once we arrived in Bangalore, we sat down and had a great meal at an Italian restaurant in the airport. We were able to finally take a deep breath and reflect on our time in Hubli together. Our flight to Delhi got delayed by a few hours, but eventually, we were on our way. Stepping off the plane in Delhi was a shocker because the temperature was noticably colder. Nothing like Boston cold, but still very cold to what we were used to in Hubli. After leaving the airport, we could immediately tell that we were in a different part of the country. It was much more developed and crowded. The bus ride to the hotel was only about 30 minutes, so we were there in no time. The Hotel was beautiful and we were all blown away by the architecture and design. We were all asleep in no time though after a long day of travel.

Wednesday was spent touring Delhi. My favorite part of this day was the trip to Mahatma Gandhis house where he lived for the final 144 days of his life. Both his spot of assasination, and his final resting place were here. I learned so much about who he was and the causes that he lived for. We were able to buy some awesome sculptures and cloths from the store there and streetside vendors.


Thursday is the day that stood out during the entire trip. We drove to Agra and visited the Taj Mahal. Going in, I knew that the Taj Mahal was going to be incredible, but I had no idea how much it would exceed my expectations. Walking up to the gates, I began to see it, but the second that I stepped through the gate and was able to see the full building in one view, I got goosebumps from head to toe which lasted for a long time. We spent some time taking pictures from afar, and then made our way to the steps. Each step closer I would continue to get goosebumps as I slowly realized the magnitude of the structure. Once we got up and onto the building, it became evident just how detailed and perfect every aspect of the Taj Mahal really is. Each small detail was carved to perfection, with all the writing and designs in their own respective stone. Every aspect was beautiful and hand crafted to perfection. I came to appreciate the time and skill that was put into constructing this beautiful building. Inside and out, the entire building was truly a wonder of the world.


Our final day in Delhi was spent doing some shopping, and preparing for the long flight ahead. It was extremely hard to say goodbye to Praful and Ritu. They had become so close that many of us consider them family. I wish that more students were able to come to Delhi with us because it only helped us bond even further than we did in Hubli. While it was a sad goodbye, we know that we will meet again soon when they come to the United States in June. Even after that, we will be sure to keep in contact and visit eachother whenever possible.


Going into this program I was not sure exactly what to expect. Even during it, I didnt realize just how special the experience that I was going through really was. It was once I returned to the United States that I gained the true appreciation for everything that I had been through over the past few weeks. I gained friends that I can honestly say that I am closer with than ones from home. The people that I met are some of the most genuine, caring, and loving people I have ever crossed paths with. I will cherish this experience for as long as I live and encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take advantage of it. We will all miss the wonderful friends that we made during this time, but as I was told by one of my newest, closest friends, “Goodbyes are promises of meeting again”


Traditional dress day

We got a delayed start to class, but only by 15 minutes, because today was traditional Indian dress day! Last night I bought a bright red kurta that has gold trim with some blue and green in it as well. At first, I thought the color was a bit much and an eye sore, but the second I walked into class I was greeted excitedly by countless people with compliments such as “you look truly grand!” and “this kurta is grand”. It turned out to be a great choice of color and design. Even the professors individually complimented me on my attire. Todays class was in the upstairs class which I think affected wifi. We quickly settled in and Professor Mehta got going on lectures. The morning always flies by, especially today because the Chai break was longer than usual. Everyone was taking pictures for a while. I gave Anvita my phone to take a picture of me and someone else, and I didn’t get it back for 20 minutes. At one point I saw Riya with it… When I did finally get it back, there had to be 100+ pictures on there with half of them not including me haha. Pictures were very fun though. At one point, I was sitting on the seat-steps on the windows with ricky and a few indian students, when Yuan came up and squatted behind us. He did something weird and got nudged and started to fall backwards.. into the window which was wide open with no protector. Someone managed to grab yuan before he fell out of a 2 story window.. Everyone was able to laugh it off but it could have been a very bad situation. We went back into class and finished up the time before lunch with group work.

Lunch was great today. They went the whole 9 yards because of traditional day so it was special food. I sat with a big of people including Riya, anvita, ricky, and a few others. At one point Sophia pulled me aside and proposed the idea that we have an independent study next semester with Professor Mehta and work on a marketing plan together to help promote the India program and potentially give aide to the orphanage. I agreed immediately!

After lunch I went and hung outside with Fiaba for a bit. We hung out with the stray dog who is around a lot. Just as we were talking abut how its as if were famous here (because of the number of people that as for pictures with us) a big group of young girls from the school next to the college walked by and half of them ran over saying hi and shaking our hands as if we were celebrities.

At the end of the afternoon, we left class to go back to the scholar house around 4:45. When we got back, kids were letting out of school again and we got swarmed. Ricky, Fiaba, and Sophia brought out candy again which always makes them go crazy. I got a bunch of great pictures with the kids. Another example of how we are looked at like celebrities here… Every single time they walk up and go “Hi” and shake hands.

Shortly after that we were ready to head to the temple/market with Moukoun. The 3 wheeler ride to the temple was great as always. We went down side roads which was awesome because I hadn’t really seen those parts too much. We got to the temple and it was a beautiful building on top of a hill. We took our shoes off at the bottom and walked up the stairs with little kids to the top. I held one little boys hand to help him get up there. The temple was absolutely beautiful with gold elephants at the bottom of the building stairs. We would hear the loud singing even from the bottom of the stairs, so when we got to the temple, it was almost intimidating walking in. The room was separated, boys on the left, and girls on the right, with a split down the middle so that the gods can walk down the middle and bless everyone. The ceremony was beautiful with two people singing, two people playing small symbols for sound effect, and one person banging on a bongo. Front and center was a large sculpture of the god Sai Baba, who accepts people of all religions, so it was acceptable for us to be there. He was draped in a pink robe with a purple scarf on, multiple necklaces, and a large flower necklace on. There was a lot more around / on him but I cant remember because the decoration was so extensive that I found myself trying to memorize what was there mid ceremony so I could remember. We stood there for a while, but eventually sat down and mokoun told us only 2 more minutes. At the end of the ceremony, we all got in line, walked up to the front, gave our flowers to a man who put them infront of Saii Baba, and then prayed to him. There was a plaque directly infront of him with silver feet prints which we put our hands on, rested our head on them, and then continued out the side door. We waited for Fiaba and erin to be done since all of the boys went first. Then, to complete the ceremony, we had to walk around the temple 5 times which was not very far at all. We then walked down the stairs to the main platform where there was a large pot of rice and everyone got a small bowl to eat with their hands. We saw a huge fat yellow lab looking dog which was unusual because all of the dogs thus far looked frail and malnourished. There were also two smaller buildings on the side which we walked through for more prayer. This was an awesome experience and most likely once in a life time unless im back in India at any point. Especially great because it was Thursday, which is a special day for this temple, as everyone attends on Thursdays.

This day was a staple in my experience here in India. I learned so much about Indian culture and got to experience it first hand. It was a day which I will never forget. india03 india02 india01

“Everything you expect it to be, is nothing that it will actually be”

The best piece of advice that I was given prior to departure for my study abroad trip to India was “Everything you expect it to be, is nothing that it will actually be.”

My first couple days in India were spent with my body fighting some kind of flu-like virus. It felt as if I were trying to enjoy everything with a gorilla on my back, but I knew that I could not let it stop me from enjoying this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The entirety of my life up to December 26, 2016 had been spent in North America. Almost all of it in the United States, with a few brief trips to Canada when I was no more than ten years old, so this trip to India was my first big adventure out into the real world. I committed to go on the trip in October, but it didn’t hit me that it was actually happening until one week away from departure. I was nervous, but it was an excited kind of nervous. This was a feeling that I had never exactly felt before, so I knew that it was going to be a great experience, and that’s just what it has been so far.

I have met so many incredible people who have already changed my outlook on life in only one week in Hubli. We were all told that there would be a big culture shock for the first few days here, but in the first week, I feel that rather than a shock, the culture has embraced me and welcomed me in. I have not once felt home sick. Instead, it has been non-stop learning about one another. Every time that I was confused by how or why something is done here, someone simply explains it, and asks what the difference is from my home. The people in this program have made everything a smooth transition from life in the United States to India.

My favorite experience so far has definitely been the trip to the rock garden, where artists have constructed life size artificial scenes from Indian culture. Throughout the day there, students explained each scene and importance behind what was going on in them. I grew to deeply understand and appreciate Indian culture. At the end of the day, we took part in a mud bath, and then a rain dance to clean off. This was a first time, and one of a kind experience that helped the entire group bond even further together. When we returned to campus, I wanted to tell my family and friends about the whole day, and found that it was impossible to truly describe it all to them in words. It was a “you had to be there” kind of day, and one that I will remember vividly for the rest of my life.

Nothing about this trip has turned out to be what I expected before departure, but it has exceeded my expectations, and I can not wait to see what the rest has to offer!

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