There are not many things that can alleviate my stress before finals, but this semester I have discovered that an upcoming Study Abroad experience is definitely one of them. Whenever the beast of exam anxiety rears its ugly head, I just say to myself, “Well, all I have to do is survive this semester, and the next will be full of new adventures halfway across the globe!” And just that quickly, I switch to daydreaming about the upcoming spring semester, when I will be traveling to Pune, India, for an internship experience with the NGO Child Family Health International.
In some ways, my experience won’t be entirely new or unknown. I spent a few of my childhood years in India, and the city of Pune is actually in the same state that I was born in. I can still speak the local language, though I wouldn’t call myself fluent. I’ll definitely recognize some of the food- I’m especially looking forward to mouthwatering “chickoo”, a fruit which tastes nothing like the kiwi it deceptively resembles, and can’t be found anywhere in the US of A.
But in many important aspects, my experience will also be entirely new territory. My memories of life in India consist mostly of elementary school days and evenings spent at home with uncles, aunts, and grandparents. This time around, I’ll be living by myself in a city apartment, far from family. And most significantly for me, I’ll make a huge transition from the “school” world to the “real” world. I’m not sure exactly what my internship will entail, but I know that it will be eye opening. I’ll be thrown into the world of urban hospitals and small rural clinics, living and working with a wide variety of doctors, nurses, and patients, along with other foreign interns and medical students. My internship focuses on maternal and child health, the face of which is much different in India as compared to the United States. I’m ready to be surprised, challenged, and deeply affected by what I will see and learn.
I can already feel the excitement building. More and more frequently, small incidents will remind me that departure is near. I didn’t join my friends in hectic class scheduling for the spring, but instead browsed pictures of my possible rotation sites. My ears perk up during my long global health lecture when the professor mentions something that might be relevant to my work in Pune. The latest addition to my holiday shopping list is a gift for my new host family. I know I still have a couple of months to prepare, but the anticipation can only get stronger. I hope that some of you are also excited for this journey and want to share in my adventures- the more the merrier!