After over a year of planning and preparation, it still hasn’t hit me that in just 23 days I will be boarding a plane to begin a year long journey abroad. Looking back on everything that has taken me to this point is slightly overwhelming, but all of the hard work I have put in to pursuing my dream will soon be paying off. I have chosen to spend my junior year as a student at Saint Michael’s College, abroad, leaving behind the familiar green mountain horizon for uncharted territory and a once-in-a-lifetime education/experience. I will begin my year in Pune, India (three hours outside of Bombay, or Mumbai as it is contemporarily known) and end in Saint Petersburg, Russia in May.
Although I will be home for Christmas (not just in my dreams), as an only child it’s a daunting task to go it alone. Although I would say I am highly independent for someone who has always been coddled and guided as a typical only child, I crave adventure, no matter where it may take me. When deciding where I wanted to spend my year abroad, a few factors played a large role in my choice:
1. If I could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 2. Where may I never get the chance to live again? 3. Why would studying here be beneficial to not only my school education, but life education as well?
**((If there is one thing about me you may not have picked up on yet, let me clear the air by saying that as nerdy as this may make me sound (and I'm sure the effects to my reputation for stating this will be absolutely detrimental)...I LOVE to learn. I am absolutely fascinated by learning new things and would dare list researching as a favorite past-time. In high school I would definitely have been categorized as an "overachiever", a trait which I don't think has quite left my system yet and at this point probably never will))
I knew immediately one leg of my journey had to lead me to Russia. I can’t quite explain where the fascination started (even in my application essay for AIFS), but since middle school I have wanted to study the Russian language and culture, hoping to someday explore our cold-war counterpart. Although I easily could have decided to spend the year in Russia (an experience I gladly would have taken on), I knew there was more of an adventure waiting for me that would really help bridge together what I have learned as a Political Science major as well as give me an even broader experience, molding me into the aware global-citizen I am constantly aiming to be. I looked at what aspects of Russia I was curious to know about: its history with the US, its political system, its development, culture, the people of Russia, and its influence in a globalized world. I used this to decide that I wanted to study in another developing country in order to compare and contrast the trials and tribulations countries face trying to assimilate to a homogenizing economic and global culture. I chose India because it has deeply traditional roots that have had to team up with a contemporary world, a tumultuous and interesting past, and AMAZING food. I felt it would be a great comparison to Russia (which seems to be stuck in a developmental stale-mate lately) as its economy has begun to skyrocket in recent years during its rapid development.
I will be first studying in Pune, India, (pronounced Punay) the eighth largest metropolis in the country and one of India’s top intellectual centers. I have chosen The Alliance For Global Education's Contemporary India: Development, Environment, and Public Health because it offers courses in many topics I am interested in, as well as a unique educational experience (including visits to rural villages) and an internship component based in one of the courses I enroll in. I will be taking courses in contemporary Indian life, environmental issues (which I hope to have my internship in), and modern democracy in India. I’ll also be taking a documentary film class to document both my internship and experience in India, so be on the look-out for posted class exercises!!!
As excited as I am to leave, there is still so much to be done (and so little time to do it while working 6 days a week!) Although I have received my visa, booked my flight, begun to plan a long weekend of travel (to Northern India to do some Golden-Triangle sight-seeing), and just a few short hours ago ordered my camcorder for class, there is even more prep work to be done. I have to find converters, pack my bags, assure my parents that I will definitely come home in December (I think they’re afraid I may like India a little too much), mentally prepare myself to end another amazing summer on the South Coast, and get pumped for a Bollywood adventure!
(loveloveloooove Bollywood movies!)
Added to that list is one giant surprise that has developed over the past few weeks-PACKING MY HOUSE! As my mom has recently decided to put our house up for sale (“How many spare rooms do two people really need?!” we constantly have asked ourselves for the past two years) I am charged with the responsibility of having my whole room and bathroom (as well as the several closets I have overtaken throughout the house with my love of jackets, vintage, and “to-sew” projects) BEFORE I leave to India! As if leaving my comfort zone for 4 straight months was not enough, I also get to face more adventures upon my return home, which may no longer be down the familiar, bumpy, dirt road I have spent the past 5 years travelling down. I do, however, openly welcome the change, and can’t wait to see where my year abroad leads me. More posts to come as my time in the US winds down, the house-hunt continues, and the excitement of embarking on a new journey begins!
PS. Throwback photo from last summer showing just a few of the many things I will miss while abroad (friends, beach hair, and my home-the good old Massachusetts coastline)
PPS. Check out my blog for Alliance- 'Cause We're Like Adventurers. It will be frequently updated and all about my adventures in India, offering a second view of my life abroad! No posts up yet, but I will be making one very soon! Enjoy!