September 1, 2015
Now that I've been here for a week, here's a little insight into what life is like here for me.
Last week, we had orientation on culture and went to various important sites in the city with local Indian students our age, which was so fun. Over the weekend, we watched a Bollywood film together and hung out as a group.There are 17 students in my program, 7 girls and 10 guys. All of the girls as well as four of the guys go to school in DC, which is fun.
I live with host parents who have two married daughters, both of whom live outside of India. Uncle runs a photo studio that's been in Pune for 100 years and in his family for four generations, and Auntie manages the home and helps maintain the studio. She's a very good cook and constantly offers us more food than we can handle- definitely learning to politely say no and above all, don't waste food. Auntie and Uncle call themselves “foodies” and enjoy all kinds of dishes. We live on a street corner on a busy intersection. Since honking is basically the rule of traffic law here, there is constant noise- all day and night, not more than ten seconds go by without hearing the clamor. They have a small shrine in their kitchen to Ganesh and a few other gods where Uncle prays in the mornings, burns incense, and leaves flowers every week.
It’s weird switching from living alone (no roommate this summer) and independently in DC to having attentive parents waiting up for us on weekends and providing dinner every night again in college, especially since in collectivist India, the family is a unit. Uttaraa said in her whole life, she has never thought to ask for "alone time" when she's with their family, because that isn't an important or necessary thing for them. Coming for an individualist culture very aware of introverts and extroverts and different people's needs, it's a real adjustment.
My classes are awesome, definitely my favorite thing here and the reason I came. I am taking Contemporary India, Public Health, Gender and Indian Media, and Social Justice. Contemporary India has been fascinating, learning about the political and social history of how India as we know it today was formed and studying issues in the current news. Public Health is a subject I've been interested in for the past few years but haven't gotten the chance to study, and my professor has a background in health in tribal communities as well as women's sexual health, so it's awesome to understand the state of those issues in India, as well as learning about traditional medicine (yoga, ayurveda, homeopathy). G&M so far has been a background on the state of affairs for women in India, so that's been awesome as well. And my social justice professor is amazing, we've had great discussions on the philosophy of equality and caste and religion and rule of law. They're really exciting.
I have class every day from 8:30-1:30, and then I'm done. It's definitely strange being a junior in her first semester and not having many responsibilities. I get fed three times a day, I go to two classes every morning Monday-Friday, and other than that, there's not much required of me. I don't have many friends I can meet up and do things with other than my classmates like I do in DC, and I don't know this city well enough to just explore freely on my own. But with the help of offline map apps and local friends that I'm starting to make, hopefully that will change soon. Much love to all the pieces of my heart that are far away, I miss you lots.
Christian, feminist, idealist, wife, poet, abolitionist, dreamer, adventurer.