I’m officially moved in and enrolled for classes at the University of Hyderabad in India!
My dad is a University of Hyderabad alum, so he told me all about the places he used to spend most of his time on campus, including his hostel, his favorite juice stand, the outdoor theatre where he and his friends would go watch movies and cricket matches, and “Mushroom Rock” (so-called because it’s a giant boulder balanced on top of a really small rock) where they used to have picnics together.
If I’m being completely honest, I was kind of bamboozled by the size of the campus, because the way my dad described it, it was this cozy, small campus, but I guess that was 25 years ago. The University of Hyderabad takes up 2300 acres, so this campus is more like a small town, with a school for the children of faculty, two shopping complexes, and housing for basically all the students and faculty.
However, most of the campus is gorgeous woodland with lots of wildlife, both cute (like deer and peacocks) and terrifying (like 40 different species of snakes!). There are lots of amazing hiking trails and rock formations to explore, so I’m looking forward to getting into the great outdoors without even having to leave the university.
AIFS students stay at the Tagore International House, where I have become fast friends with people from the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Italy, among others. They are all here doing very different things, including teaching English classes, learning about Ayurvedic medicine, taking tabla lessons, compiling data on various sanitation methods, or exploring ancient Islamic burial sites. All these different cultures and academic endeavors turns this simple international housing arrangement into a bustling living and learning community. It’s going to be amazing to learn about India during my semester here, as well as be exposed to lots of different cultures from all over the world within these four walls.
We visited the SIP (Study in India Program) office, which is a quaint little building with an open ceiling and green lawn in the center. My classes with other international students will be held here, and the rest of my university classes will be at the various other departmental buildings across campus.
During our SIP orientation, various professors came in to teach us about various topics in India to help us gain a better understanding of what India is actually like. We got a crash course in Indian history, the religious, linguistic, and demographic diversity, and learned about the unique culture of Hyderabad. Now that I have acquired this knowledge in the classroom, I can’t wait to explore what it looks like in the real world.
This is a beautiful campus, but my favorite building on campus so far is the School of Life Sciences building, and not just because I’m a biology major. I’ve been there three times already just to hang out in the cool of the evening and enjoy the artwork and beautiful palm trees that line the perimeter of the courtyard shaped like a “diya,” which are the lamps used at Diwali.
I also met our AIFS Resident Director, Sumana, and Assistant Resident Director, Ishmeet, who are both amazing. To welcome us and celebrate Gavin’s birthday, they took us out to the mall to enjoy some authentic South Indian food and watch a movie. I feel really blessed to have an incredible group of fellow students at Tagore as well as SIP faculty to spend the next couple months with, and I can’t wait for what this semester holds.