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India

Molly Aldridge's Experience
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Name: Molly Aldridge
Major: Special Education
Program: COST
Traveled Abroad Before: Yes

Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?

A: I think about all of the things that I saw while I was there. I saw poverty to the extreme, homelss people and animals everywhere, trash all over, people staring at me constantly, and hearing the langauge.

Q: Why did you choose this destination?

A: I chose this becuase I wanted to be forced out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be an outsider and the minority to make me feel uncomfortable. I was forced to live outside my box. Traveling to a foregin country alone is one thing, but living and surviving is a whold differnt challenge.

Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?

A: I was there to teach. The school I was at was very clean. It was in a city that was more wealthy. The kids had to pay tuition and wear uniforms. They had many resources and it was a great school with a great education for the kids. I was surprised at how strict the teachers are with the kids. They often yell at the kids for dissipline.

Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?

A: If you choose India, make sure that you are up for an adventure. You will experience things there that you will never be able to explain. You will be forced to see things that you never want to see. The amount of poverty you will see, will change you forever.

Q: What advice would you offer?

A: I advise you to bring peanut butter or some easy packing food for you incase you do not like the food or your stomach is not agreeing with the food. It is very spicy and every meal has white rice searved with it. By the time I left, I was so sick of white rice, I felt like I never wanted to eat it again. Another thing to bring is toillet paper. Most places have toillet paper if you ask for it, however it is not just sitting out. YOu have to ask for it. Otherwise, it is nice to have it.

Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?

A: I was there for my elementary student teaching.

Todd Kimball's Experience
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Name: Todd Kimball
Major: Writing
Program: SIP Pondicherry Program
Traveled Abroad Before: Yes

Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?

A: People. The streets are overflowing with them. Smiling faces, prodding eyes, curious glances, an endless ocean of humanity all pining for the attention of foreigners. I see colors, an endless array of dark red Earth, vibrant green palm trees, and brown cow hides as they stroll down the street. The world is alive. Monkeys are hopping between tree tops. Crows are pecking at unguarded chapatis as Tamil women chase them with bamboo brooms. There's trash on the streets, but it goes largely unnoticed. Trudging through sludge is part of the challenge. A man juggles chai cups and pours them out for a crowd of pushy mustaches. It's a unique place to be alive. Not an easy place, but one that'll never be forgotten.

Q: Why did you choose this destination?

A: I wanted to study abroad somewhere challenging. Boarding the plane for Abu Dhabi in Chicago, I thought to myself; "This will be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life", and it was. It was the biggest challenge I've ever undertaken, and also the most fulfilling one.

Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?

A: Being chased on a motorcycle on the Indian Freeway. Stray dogs snoozing in classrooms. Swimming in the Bay of Bengal alongside village fishing canoes. Paragliding off the Himalayan Mountains. Sitting with an ice cream bar and patting the cows' heads as I wait for the bus to come by. The music, the colors, and the endlessly generous, friendly, and sometime overly eager attitude of the Indians. Each moment was a triumph, each day was a success. Not a second was wasted. Not a day went by I didn't feel alive.

Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?

A: You will gain perspective on life outside of the classroom, on a wide range of self led trips exploring villages, hill tribes, waterfalls, mangrove forests, holy sites, and so much more. Sunny Luke, the program director, is a fantastic and fascinating man, but he's not there to be your dad. If you're leaving for India, you need to be ready to stand on your own two feet, and be ready to take life's greatest ecstasies along with their most depressing and painful woes. India is a place of extremes. Be ready for it.

Q: What advice would you offer?

A: Go without expectations and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime, with all the excitement, disappointment, and experience that that entails.

Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?

A: To see life in its purest form: Raw, authentic, and free from the illusions we craft for ourselves.