Thursday, August 2, 2012

What I Learned in India

by Allie Safran of beauty & the feast

Today, I'm excited to feature Allie from beauty & the feast. I kind of feel like Allie is a kindred spirit, sharing my same passion for food and love of travel. About a year ago, Allie spent 5 months in India, a country I'm just slightly incredibly fascinated with, and she is here today to share her experience there. Be sure to check out her blog and especially, her posts about IndiaAnd, here's Allie.....
Hello FEST readers! I’m Allie from beauty & the feast. When Catherine asked me to write about India, I was absolutely thrilled. You see, I spent five months in that country and it has continued to be a very special part of my life and who I am. 
Growing up, I was always taught to give back and service projects were always part of my life. When I graduated from college, I knew it was the perfect time for a long term volunteer project, so I chose India and a special orphanage there where I taught English. In this small, rural village called Nellore (four hours north of Chennai in the south), I was the only English-speaking Westerner for about 500 miles. The town didn’t sell toilet paper and air conditioning was a true rarity. To say the experience was tough is an understatement, but I would go back in a heartbeat given the chance.
Besides volunteering, I was able to travel throughout the entire country, seeing some of the most incredible sites (of course the Taj Mahal blew me away) and meet some of the kindest people I’ve ever encountered.
India is a challenging country. Between the extremely different culture and language to traditional customs and even the food, it’s definitely not the easiest place to visit. The main thing I learned while in India was to be patient. The culture is so vastly different from what we, as Americans, are used to. Trains are notoriously late; stores will often not have toilet paper; you may have to use a bucket instead of a shower; people may treat you oddly because you’re an outsider; the list goes on. But what’s important to remember is that you are a visitor in their country and I promise, smiling goes a long way. If you’ve ever considered traveling to India but fear is holding you back, my advice is to not let that get in the way. You’ll undoubtedly be nervous traveling to such a crazy different country but I can guarantee you’ll come back to your everyday life stronger and better.

3 comments:

Treasure Tromp said...

oh, I would love to go to India one day!

Jenna said...

Wow, what an incredible, incredible experience! I know what you are saying about the stark contrasts, I was there in 2006 and it was both one of the greatest and most challenging weeks of my life... looking back I'd definitely do it all over again :)

xxx
Jenna

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