Glitter: Amazing People

by Elizabeth Shaw

Zip Lining in Jaipur

Zip Lining in Jaipur

Program Group

Program Group

Program Group

Program Group

Hiking

Hiking

Sleeping in the Desert

Sleeping in the Desert

Goa

Goa

Camel Ride

Camel Ride

Fitting into a Rickshaw

Fitting into a Rickshaw

In Goa

In Goa

High: A few weeks ago we had our travel break and a group of us went and travelled around Rajisthan. There was so much that happened on that trip that were amazing but i’ll just mention a few. For two days we decided to stay in the desert to do a camel safari. Instead of sleeping in the huts that were provided we decided we would sleep outside under the stars.

The first night it was so beautiful. There are no city lights anywhere and so you can see all the stars and the temperature was perfect. The next day getting to go on our camel safari was so much fun. We each got a camel (I named mine Kusco) and we wandered through the desert and sand dunes. If you don’t know the way that camels get up is very strange and it makes you feel like you will fall off when you are sitting on them.

They pick up their back legs first so you are falling forward over the head of the camel and you have to hold on until they get their front legs up as well. It was hilarious to watch people experience it the first time but by the end of the day we were pros. We even got to run while on the camels which was pretty uncomfortable because you are just bouncing with absolutely no cushion but still just so much fun. That night when we slept under the stars again instead of another peaceful night we were hit by a small but nonetheless terrifying sand storm.

It felt like our beds were going to be picked up by the wind and just taken into the desert. Looking back, it is such an amazing story it becomes a highlight of the trip.

Another highlight would have to be getting to zip line over the Nahargarh fort in Jaipur. The Nahargarh fort is this amazing fort that is so massive and just so beautiful over looking the pink city in Jaipur. Instead of simply seeing it, we were able to take a zip lining tour over the fort which was just such an amazing experience. Another highlight would be the transportation we took. With there being 6 of us there were some times we had to squeeze very tightly into the Rickshaws or Jeeps we were taking. There were many occasions when two of us would be forced to sit in the back or trunk which after about 30 minutes is no longer that comfortable. It was really fun to be able to experience all of these ways of traveling.
Finally, a highlight of the trip was just all of the culture that we got to see and all the amazing places we got to go. We ended up getting to see Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar and Ajmer in about 8 days. It was very hectic but so worth it. Just getting to go on that trip has definitely been a high of being in India.

Low: My low is that in 3 days I will be leaving India to continue my travels. Though I am excited to go on (I am going to Scotland next for the month before heading back home) I am going to miss my home here very much.

I love my host family and I love Pune and so leaving seems so surreal. This has become my home and the every day here feels so normal. I am sad to have to leave all the amazing people I have met here and to just leave India in general. I honestly did not think I would like living here as much as I do and I cannot wait for when I get to return.

Glitter: The glitter moment for me must be just all the amazing people I have been able to meet here and all the great experiences I have been able to have. I was so nervous the day I was leaving my house and I was confused that I was making a huge mistake coming to India.

But coming here has been one of my best decisions and I’m so glad I didn’t go anywhere else. The people in the program have become my very close friends, I absolutely adore my host family, I have become good friends with my host brother, and during my travels I have been able to meet and hang out with some very cool people.

ElizabethElizabeth is a Junior at Smith college. She is studying abroad in Pune, India during the Spring 2015 semester. She looks forward to learning the language and being able to learn and see as much of India as possible. While abroad she will be interning for an organization focused on public health and learning traditional painting. At Smith she is a Psychology major, an Exercise and Sports Studies minor and a Community Engagement and Social Change concentrator.

Beautiful Soaking Wet Rainbows of Color

by Elizabeth Shaw

Bangalore

Bangalore

High: There have been so many amazing things that have happened since my last post. I have to say one of the best though was a weekend trip a few of my friends on the program, my host brother and I took to Bangalore for a music festival called Emerge. The main acts were Alt-J and Rudimental. It was so much fun to be able to go see other parts of India and the music festival was amazing!! To get there I got to experience a sleeper bus which even though it is uncomfortable, freezing cold and you get tossed and turned with the motion of the bus so much fun. It sounds absolutely awful but the experience is one that I am so glad I have. At the music festival it was great watching as everyone got so into the artists and the songs being played. It started to rain while we were there which was completely unexpected and it took only about 1 minute to get completely soaked. But for me it just made the experience so much better. It was so much fun to get away for the weekend and experience other things in India. There is so much to do here and so much to see and I do not want to waste a single minute.

Dharavi Slums

Dharavi Slums

Low: While I have been here I have been trying so hard to take everything positively. Even if it was not something I particularly liked I have tried to find something I can learn or some way that I can grow so that I can focus on the positive. Because of this I am happy to say it took a bit of thought to think of a low to post. My program took everyone on a trip to Mumbai and while we were there we visited Dharavi which is the biggest slum in Asia. I really enjoyed the experience of going there and being able to learn about how other people live and how they make their livelihood, it is a low for me because it was challenging to decide how I felt about taking the trip there all together. I understand we were going there for an academic purpose and I think it did really help to give a better understanding of how the slum (and other slums) work but I still feel uncomfortable with simply taking a day to simply watch how poorer populations live. It is hard to decide whether it was okay that I was going there only really for my own benefit and not really to give anything back. This experience was not a low because I did not enjoy or appreciate the fact that I got to experience this but simply because it has been a challenge to decide how I feel about the experience.

Holi

Festival of Holi

Glitter: On to happier things, just last week here in India was the festival of Holi which is known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. During the festival you take colored powered and smear it all over who ever you want to. The festival is supposed to symbolize the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, and for many more days to come of laughter and forgiveness. For the festival my roommate and another person on the program decided to stay back in Mumbai and go to a holi festival called Holi Reloaded. It was the first holi I had ever experienced and it was so much fun. There was music playing, color, rain dancing and so many people just having a great time. By the end of the night we were all beautiful soaking wet rainbows of color.

ElizabethElizabeth is a Junior at Smith college. She is studying abroad in Pune, India during the Spring 2015 semester. She looks forward to learning the language and being able to learn and see as much of India as possible. While abroad she will be interning for an organization focused on public health and learning traditional painting. At Smith she is a Psychology major, an Exercise and Sports Studies minor and a Community Engagement and Social Change concentrator.

My High: My Host Family

Republic Day in India

Republic Day in India

by Elizabeth Shaw

High: One of the best things about the program that I am on is that we get to live with host families. My host parents and brother are amazing (I also have two host sisters but they don’t live with use). They are so nice and have been so helpful in getting around Pune and even arranging a car for some of the people in my program so we could travel outside of Pune for the day. I also have a host niece who is 10 months old and, of course, adorable. She’s learned my name, will give high fives and dances when you turn on music. They have made coming to live in another country for 4 months so much easier and I feel really at home with them.

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Low: Here in Pune the way you get anywhere is on a rickshaw (you can also walk but since I’m not all that familiar with the city yet the few times I’ve tried I’ve gotten lost). I have had some wonderful rickshaw drivers but I have also has some really bad ones who try and cheat you to get more money by insisting you pay more, telling you their meter is broken (which is how you tell how much to pay), taking you in circles or taking the long way. Especially not speaking the language has made it very hard to tell the drivers where you want to go or when they get lost to help navigate them.I just have to give it time so that I am more familiar with my surroundings.

Glitter: I am learning Hindi while I am here and we’ve had four classes so far where we are leaning the vowels, consonants and conjugations. Over the weekend I was sitting at breakfast with my Kaka (it means uncle, it’s what my host dad has us call him) and looked over at the paper he was reading and I realized I could recognize some of the letters written in hindi and could even sound out some of the words!!! Of course I don’t know what the words mean but from Hindi I could write them in Roman Script and sound them out! It’s not much but I’m horrible at languages so I’m so proud that I can get this far this fast.

ElizabethElizabeth is a Junior at Smith college. She is studying abroad in Pune, India during the Spring 2015 semester. She looks forward to learning the language and being able to learn and see as much of India as possible. While abroad she will be interning for an organization focused on public health and learning traditional painting. At Smith she is a Psychology major, an Exercise and Sports Studies minor and a Community Engagement and Social Change concentrator.