After returning home from my three week journey across Southern India, I was frazzled, exhausted, and craving absolutely anything fried and greasy. It took a while for my mind to digest all of the information that had been brought to my attention throughout my study abroad experience. I was well aware of the fact that I had just experienced a once in a life time opportunity. I was also aware that I had gained knowledge which would stay with me for the rest of my days, but I hadn’t yet processed or made all of the connections necessary to see the big picture, or the grand scheme of what I had learned during my time abroad. It has been 8 months since returning from India and I am happy to say that I am still learning and drawing new connections between my experiences abroad and other aspects of my life. Read on for 5 of the major lessons I learned from studying abroad in India:
- Attitude is everything! While my experiences in India were absolutely amazing, there were many aspects of the program that were also quite challenging. Hot days, odd food, traveling on crowded overnight trains, and trying to blend into a culture that I had never experienced before were not always bright and cheery endeavors. During the program, our professors would emphasize the fact that we had to adjust to each new situation. “Adjust.” When you adjust your attitude towards a situation, it really helps everything fall into place.
- The Value of Friendship: Building friendships is an important part of life, but traveling abroad really made me consider the true value of friendship and the bonds that you can create in a new country. I traveled abroad with 22 wonderful students from both Maryville and Elon University and most of them I had never even met before entering the program. While in India, we all developed close bonds that helped us have fun and allowed us to work through our experiences together. Even after returning we have stayed close. It’s a great feeling to share such a life changing experience with a great group of people.
- Discovered new passions! While abroad, I not only discovered a new found passion for travel, but also one for psychology. I had always been interested in this field of study but after experiencing a new culture and their customs, beliefs, and ways of thinking, I decided that I wanted to gain further knowledge in the field. My experience abroad inspired me to minor in psychology. Since I am a marketing major, learning more about the psychological processes of people around the world will allow me to better market towards many people across cultures in the future.
- Navigating: After having to negotiate the rugged streets of India as the sounds of honking horns and racing rickshaws flooded my senses, having to communicate with locals for directions, and even becoming lost in the city of Kochin, I now feel more confident than ever in my ability to navigate a new country!
- Cultures are different and that is a good thing! I’ve always wanted to learn about different cultures, but traveling to India was my first experience actually submersing myself into one. It was amazing to see how vastly different yet shockingly similar life was in India. All of the things that made India different also made it unique and helped to bring my fellow travelers and I knew perspectives on culture and the world.
All of these are lessons that I now try to incorporate into my everyday life. I will never forget the experiences or the things that I have learned through my studies in India. I encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad!