I cannot believe that my trip has finally come to an end. It started to feel real once we had to say goodbye to our Indian friends at Scholar House in Hubli. That was really hard for me because I could not imagine continuing my trip the next week without them. We all became so close and that place felt like home. I have never met a more amazing group of people in my life. Before going, I was not sure how everyone would connect with each other but the connections went beyond my expectations. I write this with a heavy heart that I will miss them all forever, or until we meet again. Luckily, we still got to keep the Chinese students for another week. My time in Chennai and Pondicherry were great too, and we got to see a lot of cool things. We visited temples, churches, beaches, and other great sites that I will never forget. I even enjoyed the long bus rides because we were all together and sometimes relaxing, looking out the window, and listening to music is happy time for me as well. Also, the hotels we stayed at were beautiful! Some complaints about the last hotel, but I will not waste my time on that. I would hate to complain about any second of this trip because I would do anything to go back there even if it was at my worst time (there was no “worst time” because I loved everything!!). Furthermore, it just felt nice to finally have a softer bed or a better running shower. However, I would sacrifice those things if I could go back to Scholar House and do it all over again.
I would not trade this experience for anything in the world. The classes, culture, sites, and learning were all great, but for me it was mainly about the friendship. I went on this trip because I was at a time in my life where I felt my most lost and loneliest. I pushed myself to come on this trip because I needed adventure and something different. I went alone, not knowing anyone, and leaving with a family. I have never been that consistently happy for three weeks in my whole life. I would like to take a minute to thank and shout out the people who had a hand in any of this being possible. Thank you. It truly changed my life and I am forever grateful and humble for this opportunity. Now being home for a day or two, I feel lost and alone. My heart hurts and I miss everything and everyone. I know this will pass and it is only the post-vacation blues, and once I am well rested and able to reflect on the positives that this trip left me with, I will smile about it forever. I will always have a friend in all the Indian boys who took me on a ride on their scootie, and the beautiful Indian girls dressed up in their Sarees. I could never forget Kuku, who was my rock and made me feel more loved and appreciated than anyone else I have ever came into contact has made me feel. Also, my American friends who I now get to see at home and can continue our friendship. I have never met a more unique group of people who I now think of as family. I will never forget how I felt for those three weeks: happy, warm, loved, and accepted; all the things I was going there to remind myself that I could feel again.
Since my last blog entry, a lot more amazing things have happened here at KLE and around India. A group of us traveled outside the campus and got to do some shopping, friendships grew closer, and we had an awesome field trip. Every day we get closer and closer and it makes me wish my life could stay like this forever. Them main reason is decided to come here was because I needed a big change in my life because I felt as if I was going crazy or felt nothing but lonely. I knew opportunities were coming in my life but it felt like I was just waiting for that to happen and felt myself rushing school so I could get there. I did not want to feel that anymore so I thought this trip would help me mentally, spiritually and physically; and I was correct.
Shopping around the town was a whole new experience for me. We were in a big group so I didn’t feel nervous, I felt excited. Mainly because we were shopping for Kurta’s and I have wanted one since I saw them at the airport. Tomorrow is ethnic day and i am stoked to put mine on and wear it as well as to see everyone else in theirs. Also, over the last few days the friendships grew more and more. With trips to mcdonald’s, scooter rides around campus, and even going to different restaurants around KLE. These people feel like family to me and I have never been this excited to be around a group of people in a long time. Furthermore, we went to Rock Garden yesterday and that was a blast. I loved seeing all the statues and art that made me appreciate Indian culture even more. The most memorable part of that trip was the rain dance. Dancing in cold water in my clothes surrounded by my classmates and other Indian kids was a thrill that I do not think I can explain. It was so freeing and fun, I wish I could do it forever.
Every day I get the gut wrenching thought of having to eventually leave KLE and India for good. Some times I wonder if all the happiness will be worth the sadness I will feel once I’m back home in the New England winter and missing all the Indian and Chinese students. I am happy to have new friends with the Umass Lowell students that I will keep but I will never see the rest of them again. I am trying to tell myself to not be sad that it’s over but to smile because it happened but we will see how I deal with this once I am back home
Finally, after months of anticipation, it was time to leave for India. I arrived in the airport with an excited and nervous feeling. I still did not know many of the students that well yet so I was nervous that we may not clique or get along. Fortunately enough, we all immediately felt like family. It was only a few hours in but I felt as if I knew the other students for weeks already. This feeling of relief made me a little less nervous to fly which was good because I have never taken a flight that long before. However, the flights went by super fast and easy. Once we arrived in Hubli, we took a bus over to KLE. Immediately I felt amazing and full of pure joy. I did not sit the whole bus ride and all of us were up at the windows waving too everyone we saw on the streets. People were smiling and waving back and I have never felt a more warming feeling. I could not recall a time that I had felt that happy and excited for the future. We then arrived at KLE and the campus was beautiful! It was a sort of odd feeling at first that all the natives were staring at us Americans, but we got used to it. Running on barely any sleep, we were all so excited to walk around the campus and explore.
The campus and the buildings are all so beautiful to me. I am overwhelmed with all this happiness and excitement that I am already sad that I have to leave in a few weeks. The American students are all so close but I was very excited to meet the other students as well. Just like how us Americans got attached quickly, it was the same for the other students. I already feel like we have all been classmates and friends for years. It’s actually devastating to me that I will have to leave them and probably never be able to come back. I am trying not to think of the sad parts and focussing on the happy parts though. The classes are a lot more interesting than I anticipated because I thought they would be long but time goes by so fast when I am enjoying the class.
Last night was the New Years celebration and it was the best one I have ever had in my life. We played musical chairs and the first game i came second, and the second game the final two was me and the same girl who beat me last time. This time I actually won! After two back to back games of dancing in circles, I was out of breath and ready to sleep but I needed to stay up till midnight of course! It was such a humbling experience and I cannot explain the joy that I have felt every minute of every day that I have been here. I never want to go back home!