The Stress of Packing

As of right now, it has not even registered in my brain that by the end of today, I will be on a flight heading to India. I could have been overthinking it a bit, but there has been so much to do in preparation, that I cannot get myself to even think about actually being on the trip. For the past couple of days, my attention has mostly been focused on my checklist. One of my biggest fears for this trip is that I will somehow forget something of the utmost importance, such as pills, money, or underwear. Even this morning I find myself looking through my suitcase, checking for things that I know I already packed. While I’m on the topic of fears for the trip, I have to say my biggest fear is getting sick somehow while in India. This past week has been my first healthy week all break after having pneumonia, so the last thing that I want is to be sick again. A surprising coincidence is that my mom actually has a friend who is in Mumbai right now, and he has been updating her about his trip. Unfortunately, he got very sick from some food that my mom did not specify and now he has to “wear two pairs of underwear just to be safe.” With that in mind it would really be quite unfortunate if I forget to pack underwear.

Maybe I Am Tripping !

Been In New Jersey for a while now, I enjoyed my vacation back home but as the clock ticks down I get more and more nervous. I am excited to be in India but I am not excited for this over seas flight . To be completely honest, it feels like my whole family is coming with me. They are waiting for the pictures just as bad as I am waiting to see it in person. I am nervous but so excited at the same time. First time being this far from home but at least it is warm like Florida. Praying and praying even more for this flight to land safely there and back. – Re’

A Whirlwind Of Emotions

Before this day ends, I’ll already be on a 15 hour flight to the other side of the world. I’ve always wanted to go to India for a semester but since our school didn’t have an official study group, I was slightly bitter. That’s why getting accepted into this program is something I’m so grateful for. Taking an art history course was something I had never done before but I pushed myself to go out of my comfort zone for once. Surprisingly, it was very enjoyable to learn about architecture of temples and caves. Like everyone else, I’m extremely anxious about this trip. I keep repacking my bags and checking if I have everything needed. I’m a bit paranoid that something problematic will happen but hopefully nothing will. Excitement overshadows my feelings of nervousness and paranoia. As I’m writing this, I’m so thrilled that I just can’t fall asleep even though it’s almost 4 am. I can’t wait to experience a new culture as well as see the sites we learned about in class with my own two eyes. I’ll probably be overwhelmed when we first arrive at India and won’t be able to pay attention to anything said so please bear with me. I look forward to spending these next ten days with you guys and making unforgettable memories!

The Final Countdown

In less than 12 hours I will board a plane that will take me from San Francisco to Newark, beginning my long trip to Mumbai. Until now, the thought of India has seemed far away and intangible. Now it is close, right in front of me, and more real than ever. I don’t really know what to expect when I step off the plane in Mumbai. People who have traveled to India have told me that some of the first things I may notice are the sounds, which won’t cease until I board the plane back to Newark; the smells, which will be stronger than anything I’m used to; and the sights, which can be at times beautiful and at other times heart breaking. Whatever my experience will be during the too short time we are in India, I know it will only be a glimpse into a corner of the world which is, in the grand scheme of things, small, but which is also bursting at the seams with colors, people, culture, and history. I cannot wait to see what this magnificent country has to offer, and to soak in every moment that I am lucky enough to spend there.

Courage and Joy

It is morning now in Mumbai. The first thing I saw when I woke up was the sad news about a shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. How frightening that must be for all of you who are about to fly, and for your families, as it is for me. I don’t want to let this moment pass unremarked, for your sakes or for those who have suffered in Florida.

We all know at some level that we live in a dangerous and unpredictable world, but if we let that knowledge dominate our thoughts all the time, we would never taste the sweetness of any moment, as Reyna’s beautiful post says so well. Smart research shows that our lives are in fact more safe than they have ever been in human history, but our communications technologies plus our human tendency to focus on dangers magnify our sense of the prevalence of disaster.

Certainly we expose ourselves to different challenges when we travel, but locking ourselves up at home is no guarantee of safety either. My choice has been to travel as widely as I can and meet as many people as I can, hoping for the best from all of them even as I acknowledge that not everyone deserves my trust. I stay alert for warning signs as I venture out every day. And I have enjoyed such kindness and friendship everywhere I go. The rewards have far outweighed the risks.

The fifteen of you have all taken the brave step of committing to this journey and I take very seriously the trust you put in me as you do so. Your safety is my first and constant priority. And not just mine. Security at U.S. airports will be heightened after this latest shooting. Security at Indian airports is more intense than at any U.S. airport I have seen. You will see security measures all around Mumbai too, and these have been in place for years. Gun laws are much more restrictive here than they are in the US.

Keep all that in mind if it helps, and take this step with me anyway. We will be brave together but not foolish. It will be wonderful to see you on Sunday evening.

The Unknown is Confusing… and VERY Exciting.

Sometimes it is difficult to get excited about things before they happen, especially if I am not sure of what to expect. That is a bit how I feel about India. Don’t get me wrong — I am, in fact, excited. However, for all that I learned in class, there is so much more left unknown. The cave, temple, and stupa monuments that we studied are only a TINY portion of Mumbai and Aurangabad, and a far smaller portion of the entire country. So, with so many questions unanswered, so much exploring to be done, and so many experiences remaining to enjoy, the question of about what I exactly I should be excited remains unanswered.

What I am excited about is putting an answer to some of the questions and filling in the blanks in my understanding of India. Amidst the many isolated and stagnant monuments that we studied in class is a dynamic and unique Indian culture to which I am entirely foreign. I cannot wait to feel the culture that we have been studying for the entire semester. I have a good feeling that I will be most excited once this feeling begins and want to explore as much as possible.

So now, nearly exactly 24 hours before arriving at the airport, it is time for me to start packing. See everyone soon!

Excitement Before India

I want to start off this post by stating that I hold the same excitement that many of my classmates have previously shared about going to India. However, the way I have been dealing with this excitement has been somewhat obsessive. Over the past couple of days, I’ve spent most of my free time looking for anything relating to India online. I have looked at everything from youtube vlogs to random photographs people took on their trips. The purpose of this was to gather as much information as possible so that I would be prepared for all the things I could see and do once I actually get there. I feared that I would miss out on experiencing something incredible because I didn’t do enough research on the places we would be staying.

My case of “fear of missing out” put an overwhelming pressure on me that I did not know how to deal with. After exhausting myself with endless researching, I realized that the only way that I would be able to genuinely enjoy being in India was to not rush from place to place with the goal of seeing all that I possibly could. Instead, I should leisurely bask in all the sites, sounds, and tastes around me. With that in mind, I can not wait for all the amazing memories I am going to make in an breathtaking environment alongside such wonderful peers.