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Befriending a Virtual Peer Buddy
By Elena D., Virtual YES Abroad 2020-2021, India
Weekly conversations with my peer buddy from India have been one of the highlights of my YES Abroad virtual program experience! I always looked forward to our refreshing and fascinating conversations every Friday night. Although it has been a privilege attending classes online with classmates and teachers, being able to maintain contact with my peer buddy has been a great way for me to achieve sociability while also being able to learn about Indian culture and traditions from the comfort of my own home!
My peer buddy and I have had great conversations about the average daily life experience as a teenager in India. We have talked about topics ranging from our families to global politics. We have also discussed in depth our own experiences as teenagers in India and America. Because she had spent a year in California, I was able to hear about her interesting perspectives on American culture, including the differences and similarities between Indian and American cultures and everyday life. I’ve learned a lot, and, due to our conversations about her personal experience living abroad, I feel a lot more prepared to study abroad in the future, knowing that I may experience some of the same differences and culture shocks that she did.
In addition to conversations about our lives and cultures, my peer buddy also taught me about the education system in India. I had read about it briefly in the past, but hearing about her experiences and studies --the curriculum stream that she chose, and the big exams she was studying for to attend college and become an engineer-- enhanced my understanding of education in India.
Although my peer buddy and I are from different cultures, we were able to connect over our many similarities. Beyond our shared love of learning about new cultures and languages, we also both enjoy math, chemistry, and spending quality time with our families. Although I wish we could have met in-person and been classmates at my host school in India, I am very grateful we were able to connect during the virtual program. I plan to stay in touch with my peer buddy, and follow her example in order to be a good peer buddy myself to incoming YES students. I cannot wait to connect with more students in India during the second semester of virtual programming, and I’m looking forward to more conversations about culture, school, and our lives, and to build lasting friendships.