The Life I’ve Built
My last day in India. I’ve accomplished packing all of my belongings that I’ve accumulated over the past 4 and and half months into my baggage, barely making it under the weight limit. I’m becoming to realize that I’m really going to miss the life I’ve been living abroad.
I feel like it was yesterday when I was dreaming and hoping that my parents would let me come. Thinking that India is so crazy. So out there. So out of the ordinary. I could go anywhere…why India? It was a gut feeling from the second I opened up the study abroad brochure. Fate.
But as you all have followed my journey you must have figured out that it was a perfect choice by now. Every single moment has brought me to a greater good. Each experience had an impact on me that I will never forget. From seeing some of the most beautiful places on earth, to rickshaw rides, to working for the NGO of my dreams, to getting sick, to missing home…everything changed me. It would take me hours upon hours to pin point what I’ve learned while I’ve been here. So I narrowed it down.
One, I’ve learned that I can really be happy if I set me mind to it. Anyone can be. Before I came here I don’t think I really understood what it meant to live a hard life. I’ve had my tough moments and some very hard losses but I took for granted so much. Here every single day I meet and see countless people who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from but they still have a smile on their face. Whether it’s migrant workers on the side of the road working in 110 degree weather or if it’s slum children living in the world’s worst living conditions they laugh and smile for the new day and living life to the fullest. Positivity is so important to the well being of all of our lives. Sure we ALL have our moments. It’s okay to cry and scream into your pillow or vent to a good friend. But to hate life is cruel. Now that I’ve been here, I will never say that I hate my life. I’ve experienced the heat, the dirt, the sickness and all the crazy things we complain about as foreigners. But I get to go home tomorrow. To the life that I’ve missed so much. However, some people call here home and they love it for all that it is. Anyone can be happy wherever they are, its what you make of it. For the rest of my life when I feel like giving up or I get frustrated over something I should be thankful for Im going to take a deep breath and remember India. I can be happy and I can do anything!
This leads me into my next MAJOR lesson learned. Cultural sensitivity. I remember being younger on a camping trip with my parents and we had a conversation about cultural sensitivity when it came to poking fun at the Chinese tourists. I understood that it was about being respectful but that was that. Good manners. It seemed like a simple and obvious thing to do to be a better person. What I didn’t understand till now it how it shapes how we all see each other in a global society. Coming here I thought of all the things you hear about India. The poverty, the sexism the extreme religious groups. Then when it came to having to adapt to a culture like the one here in India you learn what respect really means. After a conversation with one of the Voice 4 Girls girls, I learned about Indian arranged marriage. It completely changed my views. At first I thought of it as obscene. But after that conversation I understood that it’s not forced and it’s like your parents being your own personal e-harmony. Yes, theres always the exception, of a bad arranged marriage. But what’s the divorce rate in the U.S. again? Studying abroad in India was all about understanding a culture so different from mine with a open mind. Then with working with Voice 4 Girls we used this understanding all the time to help the girls.
Yes, there is a problem with girls in low income communities not realizing that they have their OWN choice to make when it comes to their OWN lives. But we had to respect their culture and families beliefs. It’s a team effort. When it comes to the gender discrimination, it took us awhile to understand. Yeah it was hard to cover up everywhere we went. But we couldn’t just wear whatever we wanted because we felt as though we are liberated women. We had to respect that women covering up was part of the Indian culture. RESPECT. It’s simple but it can change the world. We have to work together.
And to sum things up I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about what it really means to be thankful. When I walk of that plane the happiness I’m going to be filled with is going to be unexplainable. To see my family and friends that I’ve missed so much it going to be one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ve missed everyone and everything so in turn you can see I’m going to be very thankful for everyone and everything. India’s made me a very, very happy person.
To think of how far I’ve come makes me feel so confident. I’ve tackled some of my biggest obstacles while I’ve been here. I know I’ve changed and I hope you all see the changes when I get home too.
Last night we had our final dinner as a full group. As we ate amazing food and chatted about our adventures you can just see the joy in everyone’s eyes. We’ve all grown so much and I can’t wait to have all of them be part of my life forever.
There’s so much I’m going to miss. Maybe even the things I hate, I’ll miss. The challenge the adventure, the children I work with. I’m going to miss it all. I guess that’s why I plan on traveling for the rest of my life. It’s a addiction.
The people of India will always be my inspiration for traveling the world and trying my best to make the world a better place. And to study extra hard for my foreign service exam down the line. Or maybe the LSAT…who really knows what I’m going to decide.
India will always hold a piece of my heart. I wouldn’t be who I’ve become without this experience. It really did change my life.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the life I’ve built in just 20 years and there’s so much to look forward to! First thing being coming back to the land and the people I love. See you all soon!