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The Little Victories

Madisoncover

By Madison Roberge, YES Abroad 2018 - 2019, India

On exchange, I’ve learned to embrace that almost every portion of my daily life is a cultural experience -- ordinary things that make up my daily routine all count: going to school, a trip to the movies with your host family, taking a walk down the street, cooking dinner, etc. When you live in a place for several months, these things stop feeling special and simply become your day-to-day life. There are some routines that I no longer think about, such as standing up when the teacher comes into the classroom, or even standing up for the national anthem before a movie at the theater. Street vendors, cows in the street, dogs, and monkeys are things we pass by when going down the street. I don't think about them much unless they're near me. 

In the U.S., I was a yoga teacher. Now in India, surprising as it may be, I stopped practicing yoga daily a few months ago. As I now find my way back into practicing, I find my way back into mindfulness and gratitude. When both of these things are a large part of my life, I find myself paying more attention to the little things and really appreciating them. Really, it's all about the little things, which is easy to forget. For example, while I might not be as fluent in the languages here as I would like, every time I learn a new word, it is a little victory. Exchange really is all about the little victories, too.

And now some little moments from my camera roll...

Clockwise, starting on upper left:

Dragonfruit is so yummy and I’m also looking forward to the coming mango season!

It was recently my parents’ 25th anniversary, so we set up a surprise candlelit dinner for them on a rooftop.

I recently ate sugar cane for the first time. Here it is cut up, but I also ate it uncut. When it is uncut it has a sort of skin on the outside, which you bite and rip off. 

One of those common animal sightings I mentioned earlier, which I take much less note of now than I did at the beginning. 

The photo at the top of the page is me with my host mom's Dadi (father's mother); she doesn't speak English, and I did my best to understand her Gujarati and express myself in my very limited Gujarati. She showed me her prayer beads and told me about her tattoos which she got when she was 10 years old; they were a compulsory component of her culture.