Deciding to go to India was not difficult. The excitement overwhelmed any fear. Everyone who talked about their own experience in India talked about the abrupt difference between slums and extravagance, the smells, the small amount of personal space, and the beggars. I don’t recall a conversation about India that didn’t involve shaping my expectations for the horrible poverty. Even though you won’t be able to describe how it feels until it happens, I certainly felt prepared for culture shock.
Having been prepared for the culture shock, it didn’t feel so “shocking” and I did know when it hit me at multiple times, usually while driving through the cities and country. When it hit, it took the form of a calm state of pensiveness or perhaps an extreme version of staring off into the distance. At the same time it was so interesting to observe how different life was from what I knew, from the way people get around in packed chaotic streets, how every ten feet for long strips of city streets were lined with various vendors, handicraftsmen, and homes, to the way we were watched.
I learned a lot about myself, but also through our project. Working closely with a small team I thought was familiar, having been a student in Foster undergrad and grad school for a cumulative 5 years of this team style learning. It was not the same though and I learned so much from the differences.