Worries, Reflections, and Traveling Soon

Five days until I leave for India. On Saturday, I fly out of MSP, to transfer in Chicago, and then board a 19-hour-or-so flight to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. It has been getting progressively more real that I’m going throughout the summer, but I don’t think it quite hit that I would be going, and where I would be going, until halfway through last week.

This summer I’ve had to read a lot about India, and I’m currently working hard at finishing up some of my pre-plane assignments. I’ve got a paper to write (and maybe a second? Not sure yet), and a Hindi alphabet to learn. I’m doing fairly well on the alphabet, and have started outlining the paper today (it’s only three pages – should be a piece of cake.) I’m worried about the alphabet stuff, but if I work on it for one or two hours every day, I should be able to get it.

In doing my readings and preparations for India, I lost sight of why I wanted to go there in the first place. The more I read about India, the more I realized that I had very little clue what I was getting myself into when I applied for this specific program. I started to feel incredibly discouraged and downright scared about the whole experience. Everything that I was reading was about conflict, crime, and complications – nowhere was I finding anything about the beauty of India, and that was a scary prospect.

I’m not even sure now why I chose India. These are the things I know: I wanted an entirely different experience, one where I was in the very definite minority, and I wanted to go somewhere that I wouldn’t be comfortable going to on my own – for example, Ireland or Scotland would have been wonderful, but I could go there very easily on my own. I would be very intimidated to go to India without a program or other people.

Those fears I described are still there. But I’m still going. And I think I’ve started to move through that fear to a more productive, realistic place. If I let the fear rule me, I’ll miss the beautiful things. Yes, I will definitely have to be on my guard about certain things, but there is a lot of beauty that I will discover – I hope. SIT, the program I’m going through, has done a pretty good job of preparing me/the group. It’s good that I was assigned readings that challenged my assumptions of India, prepared me for some of the scarier aspects of the country, and brought me up to speed on modern politics. I’m glad that I have challenged my assumptions of India and my own experience.

This reflective work isn’t over – not by a long shot. I’m sure that while I’m there I’ll need to constantly ask questions about my assumptions and what it means that I, a white middle-class American girl, am traveling in India. But this week isn’t about that. I want to take a break from that challenge for a while, and just get excited to go.

I also felt extremely relieved after finding out that some people on my program would be on my plane from Chicago to Delhi. So we will have each other, and not be entirely alone. I’ve heard the Indira Gandhi Airport is really big and confusing, so I’m happy to have a couple of people to navigate the big scary airport with.

Final countdown! Sometime soon I’ll put up a post all about contact info and how to get in touch with me while I’m over there. But today is not that day. I have to try to get through this reaction paper.

Some things that I’m really excited about:

Visiting the Rathambore Tiger Preserve

Staying in the Diggi Fort for a week, doing a mini-internship

Going to the famous bazaars in Jaipur

Being in Jaipur for the camel market/fair

Getting to know my host family

Exploring Jaipur – palaces, temples, and different lunar holidays

Making a bunch of new friends!

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T Minus 4 Days!

Blog: Check. Coffee: Check. Tasty Snack: DEVOURED.

Assignments due before spring break: 1.

Then … CELEBRATION!

My much-needed break is just around the corner. Seriously, this is SO NECESSARY for my existence right now.

This week has been relatively busy, but not nearly as busy as the last two weeks have been. Which is good, because my ability to focus has seriously deteriorated. My bedtime shifted from 11 to 9:30. You know what that means? Abbie needs a break, that’s what that means.

But there are many really great things that have happened this week.

For instance, I turned in my Collaborative Research application. This is the Arthur Project which has been growing for years. If I get this research grant, I will be researching King Arthur, pop culture representation, and Colonial/Imperialist trends in a “post-imperial” world. Can you say best summer ever? That would be my JOB, people! My JOB!

I would also get a very significant amount of money that would go to my India trip. It’s looking to be more expensive than I’d thought, but … such is life. (I’m actually kinda financially screwed if I don’t get the grant, but … there’s loans, right? *cringe*)

I also sent in my confirmation materials to go to India. They should be to the program directors by Monday. Whew, that’s a relief.

I’ve also managed to do yoga every day this week. I hope I can keep this up – it’s a really good thing to do. I generally feel better about my body, my levels of exercise, and life in general when I keep up with yoga. However, I really don’t think that I’m getting the kind of aerobic exercise I need. So I am (once again) contemplating running. I’ve tried to get into running before, and it just never really worked. But recently someone turned me on to the Cool Running: Couch to 3k program. It’s pretty cool, and should get me in shape at a decent, healthy pace.

Hrm … let’s just hope I stick to it … I added a tag for it, so hopefully I’ll feel accountable if I blog about it.

AND! I get to go to St. Louis on Tuesday!

Thanks to my wonderful friends, I have rides to and from the megabus stop. Have to get up bright and early to make the bus (leaves at 7). What will follow then is a full 24 hours of travel, BUT it is on a double-decker bus, and I love the act of traveling, so it’s totally worth it.

I have a six hour layover in Chicago both ways, and weirdly enough don’t know anyone who lives in Chicago. So I’ll just be crashing at a coffee shop and getting some much overdue reading done. I have things I need to read for class, and for my collaborative research. I’ll try to post as well, so that you all know I’m alive. There will at least be a twitter/facebook update.

As far as adventures in St. Louis go, the friend I’m visiting and I are going to an art show/benefit/fun thing where we can get free stuff, as well as a Tegan and Sarah concert! I also want to go out and hit some of the blues/jazz clubs. Free music all the time? Hell yes.

I’m sad that the break is only a week (there are other friends around the country that I would have liked to visit as well), but perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, I really need to not spend oodles of money. That’s what India is for.

And now: Fix myself another tasty snack, and then get on to that last stats assignment.

Traveling to India!

Wow, I don’t even really know how to begin this post. After three and a half years of dreaming about where I’ll study abroad, after many, many changes of mind, I finally know exactly where I’ll go and when.

Next semester, I will be studying Sustainable Development in Jaipur, India.

Wow. Wow.

I feel completely speechless. This has become real.

It’s not some sort of far-off dream anymore. I will be in India by August 29th.

Now I have to start preparing. The list of things that I need to do is a mile long. I need to organize my confirmation materials, my student visa, my immunizations (I need to get lots of them – it’s India we’re talking about), and I already have assignments for before I get on the plane.

SIT wants me to know the Devanagari script before I get on the plane.

Apparently, our Hindi classes will be purely in Devanagari. Which means that I have to know the script for it before I get off the plane. A friend has already offered to study with me this summer (she’s a linguistics major), and I am so appreciative of that.

I’m also really excited about learning Hindi. It’s a cool language, and Devanagari is beautiful.

Because I’m doing my honor’s thesis there, I need to really start hitting the books ASAP, so my proposal in May can be awesome.

But for now, I have celebratory Mad Men, cookies, and popcorn. It’s been a hell of a two weeks, and I need to kick back and relax a bit.

OH! And my collaborative research proposal for this coming summer is almost complete! I’m *this close* to researching Arthur for the summer. This is an idea that’s been brewing for three years, I can only hope it comes to fruition.

That is all for now! One more week and then blessed spring break. It’s much needed at this point.