I’ve always been self-conscious. If at a party, I would much rather stay to the side of the room in the shadows. Here that was not an option. No matter where I went, I stood out. I could try to blend in with my clothes but my height, accent, and skin color were like blaring sirens drawing attention to myself. I learned to smile with my head held high under the curiosity and scrutiny of those around me. I gained confidence in myself.
If you were to ask my brothers, they would tell you I am a picky eater. I used to deny being a picky eater, but I must admit they were right. India has opened my eyes to so many new flavors and foods. I learned to eat food even when I wasn’t sure what it was. This helped me get rid of my bias that I had towards thinking I automatically didn’t like something. I am much more eager to try new foods even if they may have an ingredient I don’t typically enjoy.
My faith grew, as I had to make an extra effort to be engaged in The Word because I didn’t have my faith community around me. It was during this time I found healing from an emotional wound I didn’t realize I was still carrying around.
I am a person who likes control. India threw my little control bubble on its side. I was thrust into a place where I had no idea what to expect from the start. I chose not to get a phone plan while here, so I had to rely on my friends to get an Uber or look up directions when I didn’t have WiFi. I had to do a partner presentation with a person who didn’t have the same urgency to get things done as I did. I couldn’t make myself food whenever I wanted or hop in my car to drive somewhere. I had professors who could reschedule class for any day of the week, including Saturday. I had to learn to go with the flow and be okay with not having every little step figured out.
In a city full of millions, being in a rush wasn’t possible. If not showing up for work or other corporate business, time isn’t set in stone. It isn’t a disrespectful thing, they just don’t place an importance on it. Plans with friends to meet at 6 will easily happen at 6:30 or professors will be late to class. Trying to go out to dinner could take thirty or forty minutes to get an Uber and then an hour to get to the restaurant because of traffic. I learned to not expect things to occur right on time, and that’s okay, because at the end of the day the most important part is the memories made, not the timeframe.
This content was contributed by Bethany Harting, who spent her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Hyderabad, India.