Wow, I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since I have returned home from five months of living and studying in the city I was born in: Hyderabad, India. I studied abroad during the spring semester of my sophomore year, a trip I had dreamed about since I was a little girl. Just before I turned one, I was adopted from India into a family in the US. I grew up learning about my Indian heritage and always had a desire to return back one day. That dream became a reality when I was in college and discovered the AIFS program at the University of Hyderabad. Not only could I study and live in India, but it was the same city I was adopted from.
In preparation for my time in India, I read a plethora of blogs on what to expect, the best food to have and the top destinations to see. Upon arriving, I was blown away by the rich Indian culture that included intricate architecture and bright colors which constantly caught my eye everywhere I went.
Being home for close to a year now, I still remember my experience like it was yesterday. During my time in India, I was frequently treated and viewed as a local up until I opened my mouth — after which I would get the common phrase, “Looks Indian, speaks western.” I don’t think I could even sum up my experience in India better than those four words. For the first time in my life I looked like everyone else around me, but internally I thought and acted like a Westerner and spoke like one, too.
Going abroad to my birthplace was such a significant experience in my life. Not only was I able to cross several things off my bucket list, but I was able to meet so many amazing people that welcomed me into their country and allowed me to fully embrace my Indian heritage.
I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone abroad. I am more independent and have a passion to learn about cultures all over the world, and because of it I hope to return to India in the near future!
If you are thinking about going abroad, don’t overthink it — GO! There are so many options ranging from a few weeks to an entire semester (which I may be biased towards). If you are even slightly considering, you need to go! Living in a foreign and unfamiliar city forces you to grow in ways that you simply would not be able to in places where you are too comfortable. You will have some of the most exciting days of your life living in a new city, new culture. and with a new group of people.