Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms that night as I stepped out of the plane at 2 AM to study abroad in Hyderabad for the first time, eyes groggy from 24 hours of travel and limbs shaking from nerves. I remember thinking, “I shouldn’t be here,” when I got to my hotel room and reflected on the fact that the airline had lost one of my bags, a shampoo bottle had spilt in my suitcase, my charging converter wasn’t working, and I couldn’t call my mom. I thought, “These are all signs I made the wrong decision.”
Now it’s been four and a half months and my adventure is over. I made it. Thank you for supporting me the entire way. Thank you for giving me friends who laughed and cried with me, who live hours away from me in the United States, but I know will always have my back. Thank you for providing me with experiences and people that I will never forget and sights that will color my memories forever.
Thank you for showing me that I can be independent and I can be comfortable being alone. Everyone has their own reason for coming here and their own plans and desires. Thank you for reminding me that my desires are as valid as anyone else’s and that I am capable of fulfilling them on my own.
Thank you for allowing me to try and understand you. I know I’ll never be able to grasp India as a whole country. It is far too vast and multifaceted, but since being here, I’ve made a valiant effort. I’ve traveled to Ajanta, Ellora, Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Darjeeling, Kochi, and Goa. You brought out my sense of adventure and pushed me to see oceans, mountains, caves, and everything in between. Something about you sparked my curiosity and caused me to have trust and faith in myself to adventure in ways and in places I never could have imagined.
But most of all, thank you for encouraging me to grow. Traveling so far away from home to study abroad in India — to a place so completely different than my own — could have been so scary. And at times it was. Choosing to study abroad in India has definitely been the most challenging thing I have ever done, but through that challenge came so much growth. I came here with my own baggage, both literal and figurative. I was terrified, lonely, and completely unsure of myself. And while I leave with the same baggage, you taught me how to carry it differently. I leave here a stronger woman — a more independent woman who isn’t afraid to try new things and go on new adventures even if it means she has to travel alone. And while I may never have warmed up to your spicy flavors, I am so thankful that I warmed up to you and never gave up.
Your friend and future world traveler,
This post was contributed by Jordana Terrell, a student from Rhodes College who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Hyderabad, India.