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Lacey Cooper's Experience

Name: Lacey Cooper
Major: Psychology
Program: Pondicherry, India
Traveled Abroad Before: Yes

Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: My first thought is that of an unpredictable experience. Even after researching information about the country you are traveling to it is impossible to fully understand the nature of the culture you are about to engage in. India provided me with once in a lifetime experiences that I never knew were possible before venturing to the eastern side of the world. Not only did I gain friendships that withstand cultural differences and physical distance, I also made future career connections. I now have a stable idea of my future and have reliable connections to help me achieve those ideas. In every way possible India was unpredictable, but those unpredictable times helped me to create a stable future for myself.

Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: I had always heard of people talking about their unbelievable experiences abroad and I wanted to experience something similar. It seemed like the further people ventured away from the western world the greater experiences they gained. I wanted to feel completely out of my element by submersing myself in the unknowns of the eastern world. India seemed like the perfect destination to experience all of this.

Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: Pondicherry University's campus is your typical campus, that is if you are familiar with sharing your college experience with scorpions, bats, snakes, geckos, goats, cows and the occasional monkey. Because the classroom buildings are open the students sometimes have the pleasure of sharing their lectures with these animals. The atmosphere of the campus is carefree and accepting. The lectures run on this same mentality with lessons that often turn into group discussions with a lot of class participation. Unlike American universities, it is common for students to stay in one room for the entire day. The lecturers will change but students will remain in the same room for the duration of their semester. Also unlike universities in the states there are countless festivals. It is not uncommon for certain classes to be canceled once a week for a religious festival or traditional gathering.

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: As I was told before I committed to India, ¿India is not for everyone.¿ Although India was certainly perfect for me, it can be somewhat uncomfortable at times. However, traveling abroad is somewhat uncomfortable no matter where you go because it is not your home. At first you might not understand why things function the way that they do, but the key to falling in love with a new place is learning how to accept it the way that it is. Do not venture to India thinking that you should or will be able to change it, instead let India change you.

Q: What advice would you offer?
A: Learn as much as you can from the Indian culture through interacting with the locals but also be willing to learn about other cultures. The American students at Pondicherry University live in a Foreign Student's Hostel which is the perfect tool for getting engaged in several different cultures. After making friendships with individuals from Sri Lanka, Germany, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda and Nigeria I have a significant understanding and appreciation for cultures that I knew little or nothing about. Get involved and ask questions! What better way to learn than through gaining life-long friendships?!

Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: My academic goal was to gain as much knowledge about Indian and Asian culture as possible. I'm a psychology major and was specifically interested in how cultural religious practices influence mental health services in India. I was blessed with numerous opportunities to participate in religious rituals from several different religions and gained a stronger appreciation for world religions.

Question? Email Lacey !

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