Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

7000 Miles, 4 Months, 1 Suitcase: An Introduction

Hindi textbooks? Yes. Malaria meds? Yes. Gifts for host family? Yes. Cell phone charger? Sh*t. Where did I put it? I don’t notice how tightly my back and shoulders have tensed until I finish zipping up the suitcase. I begin to feel my heart beat faster, and before I can sit down and take a breath, it has quickened to a painful pace. But a few seconds of forced relaxation calm me down.

I knew that this moment was going to come sooner or later. I’m glad it happened now rather than in line at the airport (knock on wood). I’ve traveled before, but never so far. Or for so long. Or to any place so unfamiliar. My nerves are therefore not irrational (I reassure myself), and neither are they purely negative. As soon as my heart slows and my body relaxes, I can feel the fear shifting, transforming… into excitement. I’m just frustrated the two have to go together.

The packing finished, I survey my room. For that moment, everything I fear leaving behind is represented by that one small space. The familiarity. The comfort. The family and friends. The sense of belonging. The privacy. The quiet. But those fears also reflect many of the reasons I chose India: its unfamiliarity, the chance to stretch my comfort zone, meet new kinds of people, understand new kinds of places, and have the opportunity to live somewhere that is loud, and smelly, and colorful, and utterly overwhelming and challenging… rather than underwhelming and tame (i.e. everything that is not American suburbia).

But India means much more to me than the chance to experience the wildly unfamiliar (though I admit this was a reason I was attracted to the SIT Jaipur program in the first place). Undergraduate life is a confusing time. At least for me. It seems like my basic understanding of the way society functions has been called into question on a regular basis. Maybe that’s just the nature of being a Politics-Environmental Studies major, and someone who is deeply passionate about and invested in social change. Parallel to this, my identity has constantly been shifting and stretching and twisting (and being turned on its head) in the last two years at Whitman. I don’t expect traveling to India will clear all this up. If anything, I will only become more confused about myself and the world around me. But somehow I feel like studying abroad, and in India in particular, will help me—in the most sincere, least cliché way possible—get some perspective. 


And I happen to love Indian food. And Bollywood movies. And I’ve basically wanted to go to India since as long as I can remember.


Next time, I promise to explain more about my program and what I’ll be studying in India. In the meantime, you can always check my personal blog for photos and more writing from my travels.

Phir milenge! (See you!)



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