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7 Reflections on India

Ind Mc Kane Anna Arms Wide Open

By Anna M., YES Abroad 2017-18, India

1) India is Warm – As a country closer to the equator, the temperatures are obviously warmer – “peak winters” are no more than a chilly Autumn day back home. As living here has shown me, however, India is warm not only physically, but figuratively. Without fail, everyone I have met here is genuinely interested in my experience and well-being, whether it be my (host) family or members of my community calling to check in on me. 

2) India is Colorful – Whether it be the decorated trucks with their musical horns or the tricolor flags waving in the breeze while carried by vendors in the streets, I am always surrounded by color – through India’s many religions, cultures, and languages as well.

3) India is Chaotic – Entering my host community was quite a daunting experience for me – there were so many people everywhere. But now, I am not sure I could live without the chaos. Here, I hope it’s clear that chaos is not a negative term. With the constant honking, crowded streets and buildings, I find a certain comfort in being amongst it all.

4) India is Rich – Despite the glaring wealth gap that is found in India, everyone and everything here is very rich. I have talked with people from many walks of life here, and every one of them has had a meaningful contribution to my exchange. From speaking with the girls I teach English to who come from a poorer background to a retired Indian Ambassador, each has enriched my experience.

5) India is Developing – As a whole, India is technically considered to be developing. What this means to me as an exchange student is the opportunity to see a country which not only has an ancient history and meaningful culture, but also is quickly incorporating outside cultures all the time. The change here is very exciting. Though it is sometimes confusing to my eyes to see very modern buildings and old dirt roads coexist, it represents the exciting transformation of India and gives me the best opportunity to become a global citizen.

6) India is Incredible – How many of you have heard the expression “Incredible India?” Well, it’s true. I see or try something new almost every single day. In the literal sense, it is hard to believe that the same place that has a modern subway system and road system also has donkeys and cows wandering about. Surprises are everywhere here, and the experience is unparalleled.

7) India is Home - The more time I spend away from my “home” country, the more I feel at home in my “host” country. For the above-mentioned reasons and more that cannot be expressed in words, I have fallen in love with India, with all its unique features, the people it houses, and the experiences and opportunities it has given me.

Quite a few months ago now, I boarded an airplane whose wheels leaving the ground of the United States represented my last physical connection to my home country for nearly a year. As all the landmark dates have passed by me – 100 days in country, 200 days, and even the halfway point – I am coming to realize what India really means to me. With only three months left in this amazingly diverse country, I am sure India will continue to surprise me, and I cannot wait to see what extraordinary experiences lay ahead.