India First Impressions: Being a Minority

Everyone told me before I came to India that I would be in for a major culture shock. In a lot of ways, that was definitely true. After seventeen hours of flying, I walked up to the visa desk to get my first stamp in my passport. Although the lady at the front desk spoke English, I had a hard time understanding her accent and largely made a fool of myself trying to understand how to complete my visa. I’m fairly certain that she stamped my visa out of pure desperation to get me out of her hair.

Afterward, I grabbed my luggage and headed out of the airport to find my boyfriend who was supposed to be waiting for me. The first thing I noticed was how few people looked like me. Well…. nobody looked like me. For the first time in my life, I realized what it’s like to be in the minority. Not only in the minority, but to be the only person who looks like you. Of course, it probably didn’t help that I’m pale compared to most white people 😉 .

Throughout my first few days in Madurai, (I promise this is 100% true) every time I stepped out of the house people stopped what they were doing and stared at me. When we travelled to a smaller village, kids pointed at me and yelled at their friends to come see me (I only know this because my bf translated for me). At first, it was fun for me. I felt like a mini celebrity lol, but after a few days it felt exhausting. I just wanted to be able to blend in again.

On top of that, I had no idea what anyone was saying other than catching a few words here and there like yes and no which my bf had already taught me. Otherwise, I was completely dependent on my boyfriend translating for me. It’s amazing how blind you feel when you can’t communicate with someone. You feel handicapped in a lot of ways.

However, I think all of this has been a great experience for me. It’s always a good thing to get a new perspective on life and walk in someone else’s shoes for a little while. It’s so easy to take for granted being around people like yourself and not realize how it affects those who aren’t. It’s also so easy to take for granted even something as small as being able to understand those around you. Just something to think about the next time you encounter someone who may be struggling to learn your language or fit in with your culture.


India Update: Visas and Shots

So, as you may or may not know, I am going WAYYYY out of my comfort zone in order to visit my boyfriend’s parents and friends in India. As I have only ever been in english speaking countries, this is a lot for me, and I would like to say that I’m completely excited and not in the least bit nervous….but that’s just not true. I am incredibly nervous. Because of my anxiety, I am terrified to get back on a 24 hour flight. I’m terrified to change planes in another country. I’m terrified to meet my boyfriend’s family who may not understand what I’m saying like my own family does, and I’m terrified about being a minority when I’ve always been in the majority my entire life.

All this aside, I am excited about this opportunity too. I’m excited to experience a culture so beautiful, rich, and very different from my own. I’m excited to take this next step with my boyfriend and his family, and I’m excited about getting to see parts of the world I never in a million years thought I would.

Anyway, on to more practical things….

For the first time I have to get a visa to enter another country. I’ve heard from others that having an American passport is like owning a golden ticket because, for a lot of countries, including New Zealand, you can basically just walk into the country without having to go through an application process. Unfortunately, India isn’t one of those countries you can just walk into. I spent all last night trying to make sure I completed my visa application the correct way and feeling that split second of panic about the possibility of not being let into the country due to something wrong on my application. (Honestly, I had no idea traveling was such a process!!)

For the application, you have to upload a picture of yourself similar to what you would get for a passport application. You also have to scan parts of your passport and fill out a fairly short application stating your reasons for traveling and other information they may need on you before allowing you into their country. Hopefully I’ll get it approved sometime soon.

India also has diseases that are not so common in the US, such as malaria and dengue fever which are carried by mosquitoes. Because of that, I went ahead and made an appointment with the travel clinic at my college to make sure I was safe health-wise before I jumped across the pond. I was sad to hear that I needed two shots (I HATE shots!) which I got. One of those is still hurting pretty bad while I type this.  :/ I also found out about some preventative measures I could take for the mosquitoes.

I’ll be taking a preventative for malaria before, during, and after my visit just to be safe. There’s also this bug spray that you can buy which repels mosquitoes from your clothes and belongings, but apparently you can’t get it on your bare skin and have to wait until it completely dries before you can touch it or bring it inside….so I won’t be using that. It kind of scared me lol. I’m just going to try my luck with some safer mosquito repellants.

Basically that’s about it for not regarding India. I just have to wait until my visa gets accepted and then start packing closer to the time I have to leave!

If you want to hear more about my adventure to India, don’t forget to follow my blog! Also, if you have any tips for me, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Quick Catch Up: College, India, and Getting Certified to Teach

So, I have pretty much been off the grid for the last month. I haven’t made any videos. I haven’t posted on Instagram, and I haven’t written anything on my blog. I’ve basically just been sitting in my room working on stuff to get certified to teach, which is a lot harder, longer, and more complicated than you think it would be. There’s like this 30 page document you have to write and submit along with two videos of yourself teaching, and that’s only one part of it. It really just takes so much out of you when you don’t have time to do the things you really enjoy and express yourself. Anyway, because of that, I’ve been incredibly busy and stressed which has affected pretty much everything else in my life, so I’m really happy to say that I finally got it finished and can get back to focusing on other things I enjoy doing like social media.

I have to say that all of that stress really took a lot out of me. I got to the point where I hated going to school everyday and having to interact with people. Since I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, I had a really short fuse with just about everyone, including my family and my boyfriend. I had to force myself to get up in the morning and get ready for school, and there were days when I really just couldn’t and had to take personal days off to get myself mentally prepared for the next day. I know this sounds extreme, but a lot of stress can just turns you into a completely different person.

It was also worsened by the fact that I’m not 100% sure that teaching high school is exactly what I want to do with my life. Don’t get me wrong. I usually love interacting with the students and seeing the pride on their faces when they understand something they previously didn’t, but teaching can be a really emotionally draining job since you always have to be on call for the students whenever they need you. I’m just not sure it’s what I’m supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.

For someone who likes to have everything planned out and orderly, this is a really scary thought. I’m graduating next semester, and I’m still not sure what I want my life to look like afterward. For some people, like my boyfriend, this is exciting. For me, it’s terrifying.

Luckily, I have a lot of people to support me through this, and I started to see a counselor so that I could talk through some things. By the way, I highly recommend seeing a counselor if you’re going through a major transition in your life, and it’s starting to affect you. It just helps me so much to be able to talk to someone and have them listen and talk you through it. I know that, for some reason, there’s a stigma associated with going to see a counselor, but there really shouldn’t be, and it definitely shouldn’t stop you from going. Everyone needs help now and then, even if they don’t want to admit it.

Anyway, moving on to happier things. For a while now I’ve been planning to go to India in December in order to meet my boyfriend’s family. Recently I finally bought the tickets, so it’s starting to feel a lot more real. I’m incredibly excited but also really nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never been anywhere near India (I’ve only been to New Zealand outside of America), and although I know about the culture from my boyfriend, I still feel like I’m going to be in for a major culture shock.

I’m going to try to blog about the trip, so if you want to hear more, make sure to follow my blog!