I arrived in New Delhi, India last Friday (19.07.19) to begin the first phase of my New Colombo Plan adventure!
After a brief layover in Bangkok I had landed in India! I then proceeded to drive to the Australian High Commission. I have been staying at the compound where Australia's diplomats and their families live for the past few days.
Mark and Lauren Morley (@delhidiplomat) have been very kind and have hosted me for the past week at their home. They have three girls, Leah (8), Jemima (6) and Tabitha (3). Mark is a Senior Trade Commissioner and needless to say I have had an educational week staying with a diplomat! His family is also incredibly lovely and have helped me settle into India very nicely.
It is quite funny, because legally while at their house I am still on Australian soil despite actually being in India. I had my adaptors all ready to go but they haven't been much use as the house is fitted with Australian powerpoints.
For the next six months I will be attending Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR). It is an all women's college and one of the best in India. To attend LSR, it is highly competitive. To get admitted the girls needed to score 98.75% or above. So needless to say, I am studying and learning alongside some highly intelligent and passionate young women. My subjects are all focused around psychology and I am the only Australian on campus! There are a total of three exchange students (The other 2 are from the USA). We stand out... quite drastically.
However that being said everyone is immensely kind and helpful! I have made several good friends within my first few days at Orientation and I look forward to getting to know the other girls. I will have plenty of time to do this seeing I am at college literally 5 days a week (most days being from 8:45am to 4:30pm).
The grounds of LSR are absolutely beautiful and very green. There are multiple places to get good Indian food for lunch. None of the classrooms have air-conditioning so it does get a little warm. Additionally, every now and again a dog wanders through the classroom which is a good reminder that I am not in Australia any more, that and our teachers are wearing saris.
The orientation has been absolutely incredibly! Campus life is very active with many societies and performances up for show. The Dance Society put on a performance which was a real highlight, they had a mix of Bollywood, Contemporary and Hip Hop which was awesome to watch. I would consider auditioning to join except they practice every day and I do want to have time to explore India! So instead I plan to join a couple societies that don't meet up quite as frequently as well as taking a few yoga classes. So stay tuned for that.
A humorous predicament that I find myself in on a daily basis are the hassles that come from my glasses. They fog up every time I leave an air conditioned area and then they slip off my face due to the sweat that is literally pouring off me at various times throughout the day. So my fellow glasses wearers if you ever come to India, perhaps invest in some contact lenses.
Despite all of the fun, there are challenges other than the heat to living here. As a woman and a foreigner whenever I walk around I tend to attract a fair few stares and unwanted attention. I have already had a couple of encounters with sexist men.
To be honest though, what has been the most difficult for me is to see the multitude of children who live on the streets. These children often are begging or performing for money. There was a particular time, we were stopped at a traffic light where there were two girls no older than 10 doing cart wheels in-between the stopped cars in the hope of earning a couple rupees. One child latched onto a car and sprinted attached to it in the hope that they would give her some money. However giving money to the children is not recommended. (Click here for more info) When I see situations like this there are times when I get really angry at the unfairness of it all and other times when I want to cry.
Yet despite the overwhelming need, there is hope. India has a rapidly growing middle class which means families are being lifted out of poverty; yet the need that remains is great. Another indication of hope is, witnessing the passion and fire that the girls at LSR have. These girls are incredibly strong, determined and will create positive changes in their corner of the globe. These girls are going to take India and the world by storm. I am learning from them.
I will keep you posted on my studies in psychology and the Hindi language as well as how I go moving into my new home, an international share house.
Thank you everyone for the messages, prayers, virtual hugs and support. Overall, I have had a fantastic time settling into India and can't wait to continue sharing my journey with you.
Much love to you all.
P.S If you feel like experiencing a brief taste of India in musical form check out 'The Jawaani Song' by Kishore Kumar. It's a bit of fun!