So, I am down to my last full month here in India. It’s weird to have been here for almost 3 months now. It has been quite the adventure with the most random, crazy experiences. I am spending the first full weekend in my flat because I have to finish up my project so I decided to just write about some cool things about where I live and my day to day life.
I don’t really know how to put this, but I live in ashram? For those that do not know what an ashram is, it is defined as a home of a spiritual master who lives there and their devotees visit the ashram to find spiritual guidance. My university, Amrita University, was founded under the guru Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma. Definitely look her up, she is a spiritual guide and a humanitarian who has done some serious good deeds in the world and she holds the Guinness world record of most hugs given set at 22 million and counting. It is definitely a rare study abroad experience to say the least to “live” at the ashram and be able to go to university here.
Casually enough, the university and the ashram are connected by a bridge and the guru Amma has a universal following with dozens of different ashrams in the world, but this one is the one she resides at because it is her hometown. Hundreds of international people flock to this here to get one of Amma’s famous hugs and some end up becoming devotees living here. I have had around 7 roommates, including the ones I live with now, because different students come for different projects. I currently live with 4 international students: Patricia (German), Kayla (South African), and Anais and Alexandere (French), and we are the only international students here so we are like a little family.
So, I start every morning with zero effort, compared to getting ready in the morning back home, and get some food at the canteen in front of the school. In India, we traditionally do not eat with utensils, so I have eaten with my hands every day… for every meal… for more than 3 months. It is definitely a new feeling at first, but in a way, I understand why it’s necessary to eat with your hands here. A man told me once that in Ayurvedic practices, that when you touch the food with your hands, it signals to your brain that it is going to receive food and prepares the body for it. Many say that it enhances the food experience, making you appreciate your food more and understanding the blessing it is to hold energy that sustains you in your hand. And for everyone, it is just easier to mix curry with your hands and makes it taste so much better (its true). I have eaten many different types of curry, so I cannot even tell you which ones my favorite, but I usually have potato curry, appam, and chai every morning and I enjoy this breakfast to the fullest. Also, the smell of curry on your fingers, it doesn’t go away lol.
I work in a lab called Sanitation Biotechnology with PhD students working on their own projects, but working towards clean, sustainable technology in “reinventing the toilet” (this is a Bill Gates initiative if you want to look it up) and they are doing some top-notch research. I, on the other hand, am working with water quality and studying the formation of disinfection byproducts from chlorine (this is very boring to talk about in a blog so just bear through it). I also take some lab courses like genetic engineering and medical bacteriology, so my time is pretty filled here most of the time with science.
On my off days, my roommates and I go on an adventure because you can basically maneuver your way anywhere here with rickshaws (tuk tuks), trains, and buses. If you are lucky, you can grab a seat in a train or bus, if you are unlucky (like me <3), you have stand for 3 hours on a very crowded bus (like really crowded and its more than 90 degrees and humid). We also watch a lot of random movies and since all of us speak different languages, we teach each other little things so I can now say I know how to say, “what time is it?” in German, Afrikaans, French, and Malayalam.
Life here in India Is really chill, attracting a very different crowd of people, along with having some really funny and bizarre experiences. I wish I could put it all on a blog, but some experiences can never really be written down, so if you are interested about studying abroad in India, please do it. There are so many misconceptions about this beautiful, organized chaos of a country, but you learn so much about yourself and the life that emanates from every single direction here. The people, culture, food, religion, everything about this place is mesmerizing and life here is sweet and simple. Since the theme is international education, traveling abroad expands your social awareness and breaks the traditional classroom barriers because you also get to learn lessons about yourself. I am loving every moment here, and I hope many can do the same. 🙂