I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in India with the STEM Path to MBA: Reverse Innovation program this summer. I have known for quite some time that I would like to study abroad, because I think it is important to be exposed to a wide variety of cultures. I will do nearly anything to avoid becoming the stereotypical oblivious college student in an intellectual and cultural bubble that has no earthly clue about anything outside of that bubble. In fact, the primary reason I chose a trip to India instead of any other study abroad trip is that India is so starkly different from the United States in so many different ways. If I had chosen a trip to a more “western” nation, I do not believe I would gain as much from the experience.
As I write this, I am in the process of packing. It may sound strange, but I am not worried in the slightest about making sure I have everything I need for the trip. As an Eagle Scout, I am no stranger to preparing for an adventure. Further, packing is made easier than normal because we were encouraged to pack light when it comes to clothing as we will have the opportunity to purchase clothes in India. My only real concern right now is figuring out how I will occupy my time during my fourteen hour flight from Toronto to New Delhi. While reading is certainly the classic airplane time killer, I can only really read for a few hours before getting bored of it. Regardless, part of my preparation is deciding which books to buy for my flight.
Despite that I soon be leaving the United States to stay in India for three weeks, I am not experiencing that wide range of emotions and feelings that I have been told that I will probably feel. I think the reason for this is that the whole thing has not really sunk in for me yet. I am willing to bet that it will hit me about five hours into my flight to New Delhi, but for right now I am far too focused on getting ready to be nervous or anxious or experience any other classic pre-trip jittery feelings.
However, even if I am not as nervous as I perhaps should be, I do have one basic concern about this trip. While I am in India, I am implicitly representing many things. I am a Christian, an American, and a University of Alabama student, and those are just the big ones. I will be watched for the entire duration of my stay to see how I act and present myself. I am acutely aware of the huge responsibility that this situation brings with it.
As I mentioned before, I expect to gain a new perspective on the world by traveling to India. Part of the experience will be seeing the different income levels as described in Factfulness. This will allow the students going on the trip to determine how they can best use their talents to serve the local population. Also, we get to see the Taj Mahal during the trip, and I am very excited about that.