Holy wow these days are already speeding by! The orientation process has filled the majority of our days since arriving, but I do have to say that the sessions are very informative and interesting. We have had some guest speakers come to talk about health, Indian food, being a woman in India, and the CIEE Resident Director, Kavitha, has talked to us about safety, academics, and independent travel. Classes start for students on January 2nd, but CIEE students don’t have to officially register until January 21st. Up until that point we get to do what is known as “class shopping” where we get to go and sit in on whatever classes we want to make sure we can understand the teachers accent and see if it is a class we would enjoy. Pretty awesome I’d say! CIEE is such an amazing program to be apart of. They take care of practically everything for us which is definitely a weight off our shoulders, and the coordinators are so much fun and very helpful.
Some things I’ve noticed:
1. Indian people are some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met. Very friendly and willing to help!
2. It takes a lot more brain power and focus to understand their accent and can often get tiring.
3. Chai tea really is the best thing in the world.
4. Indian men dress in typical American style clothes while Indian women dress more traditional.
5. Lots and lots of colors.
6. I have always been terrible with names, and so learning all of the Indian names, foods, and places is extremely difficult.
After the orientation lectures and tea breaks, we often take a trip somewhere during the late afternoon/evening. The evening of the 29th we finally ventured into the city and we went to the Shilparamam Arts and Crafts Festival which hosts artisans that come to sell their crafts and there were also live performances going on which were my favorite part. The place is loud, busy, and exciting and personal space is nonexistent. We participated in a crafts workshop when we arrived where we split up into three groups and each group was taught how to do a different type of art. The group I was in learned how to do pottery art which was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, and the Indian women made it look so easy!
Once we finished with the workshop, we were let loose to explore, haggle, and be merry. I bought a beautiful colorful scarf that was originally 200 rupees for 150 rupees ($2.50). I have never been a good bargainer but I am definitely going to have to work on it because in India, you bargain for everything. I just find it hard because everything is already soooo cheap here and so I don’t see the worth in trying to talk a person down on a price when the extra amount they are charging me could possibly be helping their livelihood. What doesn’t make a big difference to me, could make all the difference to them and so I guess that is the challenge I face.
Now let me tell you about the entertainment. I was absolutely blown away by the live entertainment and found myself overwhelmed with emotion when I was watching the dancing and music. Everyone hears many things about India–about what the culture and people are like, but to see these traditions, cultures, and beliefs happening right in front of you is really eye-opening and it puts all of those misconceptions to rest. It made me realize how tunnel visioned I have been living in the U.S. and how much more there is to the world outside of my little box in Phoenix/Tucson. Seeing the passion and unending excitement in this culture is really inspiring to me and I can’t wait to learn and grow more from it.
A few nights ago (they are all starting to blur together), we had our CIEE welcome dinner at the Trident hotel. This hotel is rated 5 stars and is quite possibly the fanciest place I have ever been in my entire life. I’d give it 10 stars. We had an unlimited buffet of pretty much every type of Indian food (including dessert) you can imagine and the service was amazing. And the best part? We looked up online that it only costs $100 a night to stay there! So much cheaper and better than anything you could find in the U.S. If you ever make the trip to Hyderabad, I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking for a night of luxury.
This post has been sitting on my computer for the past two days waiting to be finished and I finally got around to it. Things have just been so incredibly busy its hard to find any time, and by the time we get home from our excursions, all I want to do is pass out. I know this post wasn’t the most entertaining, but stay tuned! Because my next post will be all about my first auto rickshaw ride, the thrill of crossing the street, Indian fashion, the glory that is known as Bollywood, and my new celebrity life. I will get you all up to speed in no time!
Happy New Year!!
P.S. I was placed with a homestay and I move in with the family on Sunday. I have heard all good things about my family and there will be other CIEE students living with me as well. So excited!