29 Days of India Series: Day 1 (Saturday, May 3)

IMG_0224Greetings from India! or should I say Namaste (fun fact: translates to “the light in me honors the light in you” in Hindi) 🙂

These posts might be haphazardly organized for now because there’s not much down time, but my goal is to capture each day with a post! Some might be delayed due to the spotty wifi connection here, but I am writing them down in Microsoft Word too so the posts will be ready to go!

Day 1: Landed around noon Mangalore time. Took an hour long bus ride to Manipal University. The driving here is definitely different…. Haha. My life might have flashed before my eyes as our bus driver swerved in and out of traffic and I saw incoming traffic like 10 feet away. But we made it safely. They really like using their horns in India not as a way to caution people but to tell others to move out of the way because they’re gonna pass. The lines on the road don’t really hold much meaning to the drivers. It’s all an open playing field.

We got situated in the dorm room. Thankful for the air conditioning because not one minute passes by and you will be dripping of sweat outside. I am on the 6th floor, and I normally never take elevators but this will have to be an exception because the building is directly connected to the outside temperature, but the rooms have individual air conditioned units. Six of us were part of the group that arrived on campus the latest.

Dr. Raj took us on a mini tour around campus so that we can be oriented with where everything is: food court (Indian on ground floor and American on 1st floor but you have to pay), main/library building and convenience store across the street from the university. Sesen let me borrow some money to purchase hand soap and toilet paper, which are essential for personal hygiene. I have to wait until Monday to head to the bank to exchange US dollars to rupees. The most convenient way to exchange would be using an ATM card, but I don’t normally use that even in the US, so I just brought cash. The exchange rate is a little worse (58 vs 61 rupees for one dollar) because of the service charge.

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We had a formal orientation at a hotel in the evening with dinner included. Banana leaves served as the plate. Traditionally, they use banana leaves for welcoming others and at weddings. The picture above gives you a glimpse of the table set up with some fellow study abroad students and Dr. Raj in the background.We received roses, the syllabus and ID cards.

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The internet is slow here, so it takes a while for everything to load and sometimes logs you off spontaneously. So I will for sure re-edit posts. Also, I sincerely apologize but I will only upload a few pictures that I think is the highlight of each day so that completing posts are easier on this limited wifi connection.

I’m keeping a list of useful items to bring/buy and other tips for future applicants or first-time travelers to India:
Facial/makeup removing wipes for easy freshening up
Tissue packs (napkins are rare)
Disinfectant wipes (I’m a clean freak)
Toilet paper (they use bidets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidet, so if you’re not used to using a hose to wipe, bring or buy some)
Hand soap
Hangers (nice closet space available, also useful for drying hand-washed clothes)
Some way to store trash (no trash cans in room. I’m using a plastic bag)
Light sweater (can get cold in room and in classroom)
Blanket with enough warmth (I brought one a little too light)
Bug spray (to apply on skin and to prevent small insects in hostel)
Separate sandals for shower and going out
Nail clippers (doubles as scissors also)
Clif bars or other preferred protein bar

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