Welcome to "Live, from India"! I have the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Manipal, India from August-December of 2015. Posted here will be the thoughts, photos, and videos of my upcoming adventure. Along with that, I am including educational materials about public health, India, and travel because I love to learn and I hope you do too!
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Week One and Learning Lots
I am glad to say that the three of us arrived safely in Manipal, India on August 12th and are finally getting over the jet lag! I cannot believe classes start tomorrow and I already feel like I have been here for a month because everything I have learned, seen, and experienced in the last week.
First things first, the scene must be set. It is always humid here, and usually very hot too; this kind of climate is common on India's west coast during the monsoon season. It also rains almost everyday and when the sun comes out, things heat up quick. The ecosystem is tropical and lush; palm trees, rice paddies, and wetlands make up the area surrounding Manipal. Manipal itself is a town integrated into Manipal University and has about 25,000 students, plus residents of the area. To get place to place inside the town, we have been walking, taking a bus, or using my new favorite mode of transportation: the rickshaw. When I get a good picture of one, I will be sure to post it (hopefully I will get a good shot tonight). For now, use your imagination!
After flying from NYC to Munich to Mumbai, we stayed in a hotel for the night. We then flew out to Mangalore the next morning where we met Smiriti Chhabra, our amazing resident director here at Manipal University. From Mangalore, we took a bus to Manipal...here are some pictures following up to this event:
The night we arrived in Manipal, we got to know much of the faculty helping us out through the semester, as well as having AMAZING Indian food. Paneer, a dish made of cottage cheese and creamy sauce, is easily becoming one of my favorite dishes. In India, it is customary to eat with your right hand only, and cutlery is optional if it is provided. After a couple of days of orientations, campus tours, and getting to know the area a little better, Smriti has taken us to Udupi, Mudbhudri Temple, and Mangalore to experience various things. At Udupi, we visited a temple worshipping Krishna temple (one of the three main gods in Hinduism). First, however, we witnessed an elephant blessing, which was very cool. Then, Vignesh, a student giving us a tour of Udupi, told me that he worships Shiva the Destroyer (many Hindus worship one of the three main gods) and explained that being human means suffering because you have not achieved enlightenment and feel emotion. He also mentioned that every temple is shaped like a human body because it symbolizes you entering yourself and realizing your inner spirituality. We had to remove our shoes before entering the temple and were blessed while inside. After the temple visit, we ate dinner and enjoyed more Indian food. Posted below are some pictures from that day:
Yesterday (15th August) was Indian Independence Day! Happy 69th Birthday to India! In the morning during breakfast at the mess, we saw Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, giving a speech in Delhi. Delhi, Smriti explained, is where Parliament is held and where much of India's central politics take place. PM Modi is part of the BJP party, and India is the most populous democracy in the world. Many people wore white to celebrate, though I was out of white clothing. After watching a ceremonial procession at Manipal University's "edu" building, we left in cars for the Mudbhudri Temple, an enormous garden, and Lawrence Church. The Temple was Jain; Jainism is another religion in India and its central mantra is achieving liberation of the soul. The temple contained 1,000 pillars and was very peaceful to stand in. After we visited the temple, we saw a garden with over 100 plants native to Southeast Asia; my favorites were the pineapple plant, black pepper plant, and bamboo shoots. Lastly, we went to Lawrence Church, a Christian Church halfway back to Manipal from the Jain temple. The church had classic gothic architecture fused with Indian themes. Pictures from that day are below:
Today, Smriti took us to Mangalore to shop for clothes. Smiriti loves to shop and told us that when she is sad she goes shopping and calls it "retail therapy". She also has a dog named Disco and two cats. She is a very confident, intelligent, and independent person and I love her more and more as we get to know her! Mangalore is 1.5 hours away by bus. Driving in India is on the opposite side of the road as the US, and there are also almost no traffic signals and people basically just drive on whichever side of the road they want, whenever they want. Organized chaos is the phrase I would use for driving here in India and I would crash in two seconds if given the chance to drive. At the mall, I bought three kurtas and a pair of pajama pants (worn as bottoms for the kurta). I am excited to wear them and am also excited that it is less expensive than it would be back in the States! I also drank coconut water straight from a coconut chopped right in front of my eyes.
To be brief (too late), I am learning tons and am excited to see what next week brings.