A vast and diverse country full of contrasts, India is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. A sensory overload, a functioning chaos…out here, there is never a dull moment. People come to India from all over the world; some seeking spirituality, some seeking adventure. Some just come to experience life in a foreign land. But this country is not for the faint-hearted. Living here, your patience is tried, your beliefs tested. You hate it, you love it; you resist it, you embrace it. India gives you tough love. But come here with a positive attitude and the right expectations, and you will find yourself succumbing to its charm.
The key is to know what you’re getting into. Most often, those that don’t have an enjoyable experience are the ones that come here with misguided notions of what their experience will be like. India does not function like the West. Things work differently; norms are different. Meetings hardly ever start on time, public transport is often not on schedule, nothing ever goes as planned. Internships aren’t as structured, grocery lines take forever to move, traffic jams are sometimes caused by stubborn cows! But what’s funny is that people don’t get as frustrated about these things. The culture here is a lot more laidback, slow-paced and it’s important to recognize that coming from a more efficient West. You must remember that here, you are the outsider, the one stepping into a different culture. So instead of letting it get to you, try to let India change your ideas of “normal” or “acceptable” for a while. You’ll be surprised at how much you might actually enjoy this different way of life.
Of course, sometimes you will miss certain aspects of home while abroad…not having to bargain, better public transport, fresh salads and home food…It’s only natural. When traveling around India, you may miss those soft beds, western toilets and hot showers. And when that bus breaks down and you’re stuck in the sweltering heat, miles from where you need to be….yes, you will appreciate just how much easier things seem to be in the West.
But then, isn’t that the point? Didn’t you sign up for this to test yourself? To push yourself out of your comfort zone and experience a different way of life? Would it be as fun, as exciting, if things were just as they were back home?
So embrace it. Take it all as an adventure. Keep a blog about all the funny, ridiculous things that happen. Photograph the beauty, the disorder, the contradictions. Instead of comparing things to the West, immerse yourself in the culture, make the most of any situation, stay positive and keep learning – the whole point is to learn and experience both the good and the bad. This will be an unforgettable experience that will help you grow in so many ways. You will learn about the world and also about yourself in the process. It’s inevitable. So dive right in, give into the chaos, and you’ll come out just fine.
Some words of wisdom I wrote for those looking to travel/work/experience India 🙂
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