Having never traveled outside of the country and my longest plane ride being less than three hours, it was safe to say that I had no idea what to expect from the GE2 trip to India. A 12-hour flight and food, people, and a culture I had never experienced before? Part of me was hesitant and definitely a little scared, but I was SO ready to jump outside my comfort zone. I have always wanted to travel, and I had fully embraced the culture shock that would come from visiting India.
After our three flights and a 6-hour layover in Bangalore, I can confidently say that I was practically an expert at going through airport security, finding comfortable positions to nap on the plane (even without a window seat), and navigating my way through unfamiliar territory. And the experience made my groups members so much closer, too, even though most of us had just met for the first time that day.
On the bus ride from the airport to Hubli, I couldn’t stop smiling. The sights of the city were nothing I’ve ever experienced before: intensely busy roads, buildings that looked far different from buildings in the U.S., and an overall buzz of excitement in the air. The university itself is beautiful, and I felt instantly welcomed when we arrived at our dorm. They greeted us with traditional necklaces and huge smiles, and at that moment I was so grateful that I decided to participate in this program.
I have experienced so much in just two days being here and I cannot wait to see what else is in store. On the first day of class, one of my team members from China brought my other three team members a small gift. I was blown away at how welcoming both Chinese and Indian students were of new people, and how different their culture is from ours. One of the main reasons I decided to go on this trip was because I wanted to experience cultures that were completely different than my own, having only lived in Massachusetts my whole life. It was incredible to see that the other students in this program were just as excited as me to learn about new cultures. One Indian student even said that they admired U.S. culture, and it put my own culture in perspective and made me realize how proud I am of my culture, and how lucky I am that I get the opportunity to learn about their culture, as well.
I am so looking forward to the next two weeks!