Backpacking Through India
DONE BY: Hannah Nigro | Milton Academy '16, College TBD | Easton, MA, USA
HOW OPPORTUNITY WAS FOUND:
A friend from high school, who was also taking a gap year at the same time, was planning to go to India (her family is from there). I was thinking about visiting Nepal--but I was pretty bad about planning my gap year. So when my friend invited me to go with her, I thought, why not?
LENGTH: 8 weeks
LOCATIONS: Ahmedabad, Calcutta, friend's grandmother's village in Bihar (there was no cell service, not much electricity, etc), Delhi (celebrated Diwali while there), Agra, Jaipur
PERSONAL GROWTH: ★☆☆☆☆
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE (NON-FESTIVAL DAYS):
- 11:00am-5/6:00pm: go out to sight see, with some breaks and lunch in between. Much of the time spent on trains because Indian train system is often late/ often slow moving.
- 5/6:00pm~: return home/sleep
DAY-TO-DAY LIFE (FESTIVAL DAYS):
- Gather with friend's extended family, who would come over
- Decorate dishes for candles
- Go into the temple and pray (in the villages, there was usually just one small temple that you can pray at)
TYPES OF WORK/ACTIVITIES DONE:
Sight see, participate in rituals involved in different festivals, and attend weddings of the friend's family (weddings in India usually take place over five days. My friend and I went to them for a couple days; they're really fun, and involve lots of dancing)
1. Traveling with someone is good, especially if you’re a girl. As a white girl, I felt a lot of focus on me, so I felt uncomfortable at times.
2. There’s a lot of natural beauty in India that I did not get to see. I would have tried to mix my activities up a bit by doing less of the usual sight seeing stuff (visiting temples, etc) and hiking more.
3. Would suggest going in November/December, when it’s relatively cooler.
MOST MEANINGFUL LESSON TAKEN AWAY:
I’m a pretty picky eater--and when I was there, I missed home from back home, and I was upset that I wasn’t getting the food I was used to. I would suggest not holding onto your culture/food from back home. Your experience in a new environment can be wasted if you go to a new place with this mindset.