Not wasting any time…

We returned from India last Tuesday, and I began student teaching on Wednesday. Needless to say, the adjustment back (as well as a 10 1/2 hour time change) has been interesting.

The last few days of our trip were unbelievable. We barely stopped moving the entire time we were there, and the trip ended on a very high note. Our last weekend was one I will never forget. On Friday morning, we woke up and my dreams came true… We rode an elephant. The elephant ride was bumpier than I expected, but everything I could have imagined. Friday was also the first day we really experienced the Indian monsoons. Regardless of the rain, Friday was amazing. It was also a nice break from the unbearable heat we had been experiencing. 

Saturday, we travelled from Jaipur to Agra. Sunday was the most unforgettable experience I have ever had. We visited the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and words cannot describe the experience. It is crazy to think that I am able to say I have touched the Taj Mahal. It is such an amazing building, and standing in front of it, it is impossible to wrap your mind around how people could have built it. 

Being back in the U.S., I do feel like I have changed the most after this study abroad trip than I have from my other two trips. I have experienced true poverty… I have seen the conditions that other people live in that I never could have imagined before. At the same time, I have seen the disparity that exists between classes. Before traveling to India, I had a preconception that all of the people would be living in poverty, with the majority of buildings being “slummish.” Boy, was I wrong. Although I think the poverty that does exist is more noticeable because of the large population, many people live comfortably, just like here in the U.S. I was also able to experience another culture more deeply than I have previously. We had dinners at Dr. Padmaraju’s family’s homes, as well as a dinner at our tour guide’s family’s home. These experiences were so wonderful and such great learning experiences.

I went to India hoping to have an experience different than any other that I have had, and I definitely got what I hoped for. I will forever be changed by my experiences, grateful for what I have, and more open minded to other cultures.

Here are some more pictures of our adventures abroad!

2014-08-02 05.40.52 2014-08-05 18.37.02 2014-08-05 18.47.48-1 2014-08-05 20.03.02 2014-08-08 09.01.18 2014-08-08 09.37.25 2014-08-08 11.38.53 2014-08-08 19.25.33 2014-08-10 06.29.37 2014-08-10 06.51.43 2014-08-10 16.47.07 2014-08-11 22.33.35

“Excuse me ma’am, may I come in?”

We have spent the last three days in the schools. I had two first grade classes and one second grade last, but I worked under one teacher (teachers move classes here, not the students.

2014-08-04 10.31.13-2

My cooperating teacher, Vindhu, and me.

After observing the students for the last three days, I have come to the conclusion that Indian schools and students are really not as different as they are in the U.S.

Things That Are The Same

  1. Much of the curriculum is aligned. Except cursive. Kindergarteners write cursive. And math… Math is much more advanced.
  2. Students love videos. And stickers.
  3. The “teacher look” is universal. Give them the stare, and they will be quiet. On the first day, one of the middle school classes were left unattended. We could hear them yelling down the hall… The prinicipal walked in, gave them “the look,” and there was immediate silence.
  4. Boys and girls in elementary school will not want to sit by each other. Ew, cooties.
  5. The students who sit in the back of the room will play with pencils, food, or whatever else they find underneath their desks. In which case the teacher will give “the look” and the student will stop.
  6. Pencil sharpeners are the absolute coolest things ever. Enough said.

Things That Are Different

  1. Teachers move classrooms, not students. This is an interesting concept, but leads to some wasted time while the teacher is getting set up and looking for materials.
  2. Students are much more polite than in U.S. schools. Students say “yes ma’am,” “no ma’am,” “thank you ma’am” “good morning ma’am.” After each class, students stand up and say “thank you ma’am” to the teacher. If a student wants to enter a classroom, they must ask the teacher, “excuse me ma’am, may I come in?” Walking through the hallway, everyone says “good morning.” Wouldn’t that be nice in the U.S.?
  3. Hallways are outside. Perfect for the hot weather.
  4. Class sizes are practically double. 40ish students, and they don’t raise their hands. Talk about noisy.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. Here’s some more pictures of the adorable little ones at the school.

2014-08-06 11.18.52

2014-08-06 12.01.56

2014-08-06 12.02.38

Chick trips, elephants, and dancing at the Pakistan border!

Yesterday we traveled from Delhi to Amristar… it was a wonderful day!

The trip was long, so we traveled by train (about a 6 1/2 hour ride). We thought it might have been a boring ride, but we were wrong. Right in front of us was a large group of girls that must have been on a “chick trip.”  Moms, daughers, and friends (our guide said they needed to get away from their husbands for a weekend). It was so interesting for us watching the girls! They were very loud, playing music and games, laughing, and of course taking selfies. Although they spoke mostly Hindi, Kiran translated some of it for us. One of the moms apparently kept saying “At least these people are getting their money worth because we’re entertainment enough!”  Such a cool people watching experience, and lesson learned:

We are not as different as we think.

The girls were acting just like a group of American girls on a girls’ weekend (comnplete with selfies).

Arriving in Amritsar, I instantly noticed a difference from Delhi. I mean, it’s a “small” town of only 2.5 million people (compared to the 11 million in Delhi!).  Traffic is still as insane as ever, but I like the atmosphere here much better. I also noticed signficantly less poverty than in Delhi.  We are only spending one more night in Amritsar, then we are on to Hyderabad in the morning.

Favorite part about Amritsar so far:  We saw an elephant walking down the street!

Last night was an experience I will never forget. We went to the Pakistan/India border for a ceremony that is performed nightly. The ceremony is meant to be peaceful… military members from each side perform a flag ceremony and shake hands at the border (the only road crossing between the two countries). For show, however, it is turned into a kind of performance, each side trying to “show their might.” HUGE crowds of Indian and Pakistan people gather to watch and cheer for their side (I definitely got the feeling of being at some sports event). It was such an amazing cultural experience. My favorite part? Before the ceremony begins, the Indian women all come down into the street and dance to Bollywood music. Jori, Dr. Russell, and I went down and danced with the Indian women (or at least attempted to dance). I can officially say I have danced at the Pakistani border! Very cool.

Food for thought before I end:

When I sit and complain about the heat here and then look over to see a man dressed in long pants and sleeves pushing a huge cart of bricks or whatever up a hill, I realize I really don’t have ANY room to complain. I definitely didn’t realize how lucky I am until coming here.

IMAG0487

IMAG0489

The chicks!

IMAG0518

Animals seen on the road so far: Elephants, camels, goats, cows, pigs, horses, dogs, cat………

End of the First Day

Hello! It is the end of our first day in India, and lets just say it has already been a life changing experience.  

 

After 16+ hours of flying with travel and layover time in beween, we came in to Delhi (early this morning!) feeling exhausted and excited!  Coming out of the airport, instantly the word “hot” has a new meaning for me.  The humidity is unbelievable here, but the beauty of Delhi makes up for it.  We got to the hotel and instantly crashed.

 

This morning we woke up early and spent the day touring New and Old Delhi.  We saw so many interesting sites including the largest mosque in India.  We got a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi (a rickshaw is a bike with a cart on the back similar to a taxi).  The traffic is insane here!  We decided traffic lanes are more “suggestions”.  It is chaos of cars, bikes, scooters, rickshaws, and the occasional camel.  Today was definitely an eye opening experience.

 

Tomorrow we are going to continue touring Delhi!  With wireless being “spotty” here, I will update the next chance I get!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.