1 week left. In exactly 1 week, I will be back on American soil. I can’t believe these 3 months have flown by so fast. I have learned an incredible amount and my mind might explode if I try to comprehend anymore. I feel like it’s the week before exams and I have been taking 20 credits of 500 level philosophy and gender studies courses. I have always enjoyed writing essays for exams but have really re-kindled a love for writing, especially on socially, controversial topics. I love hearing everyone’s thoughts even there are many disagreements because their arguments also steam from an experience or up bringing. I have added it onto my life bucket list to ‘have something published.’ It may be an article, a short story or research findings but most likely it could be about these sensitive topics of education, arranged marriage or gender differences.
This past week we had some time for holiday since it was Holi so I became even more cultured on many subjects. I have taken a western religions class but this week was my eastern religions class. Most conversations had, were centered around Hindu traditions and the stories behind every ritual or festival. Next were discussions about the origins of Buddhism. I got the chance to visit Bodgaya where the tree is, that’s said where Buddha received his enlightenment. Next came discussions on Islam. Two of my friends’ fellows joined for a boat ride on the Ganges and evening snacks. One is very passionate about his being a Muslim and will share his beliefs with anybody so we challenged him on the importance of religion and why Islam? In Patna there is a big population of both Muslims and Hindus so it makes for an interesting society. It used to be very dangerous in that area but in the past 5 years it has really settled down and progressed. The danger isn’t due to a war on religion but rather a competitvity for land and resources. Bihar is one of the oldest civilizations in the entire world so there are many, many people living there and everyone is fighting for their space and basic needs. The normal human being isn’t born a thief but rather it’s in times of need or desire where the mind set changes. This leads into another point of national pride and hope in the human race. Indians have so much national pride often displaying the flag, being honored to join scouts and guards and often singing the national anthem very proudly with fists at each side. However, the people don’t have hope in their own kind. Yes, it all stems from a history and experiences but still there is something missing. When I was headed off to travel everyone was very, very worried about me. Understandable that I am a white, American girl traveling in India but I had my mobile and steady head on my shoulders with vast travel experience packed along. As they would give my travel tips I would already have that knowledge plus more to add on to it. I’ve done my research and made sure I knew what I was getting in to. I didn’t run into even one problem in my 11 days of traveling. I found everyone only the kindest and most helpful along the way. Most people speak English so I could ask questions if I had any.
During my travels I got to experience many wonderful things! There’s an instant connection when traveling as a foreigner with other foreigners. There are perks such as special fast lines and tickets while at the same time the locals try and rip you off. For those of us who have been living here for a while we can read the scammers and smell a rotten deal from a mile away. Needless to say it was great meeting other travelers and crazies off exploring the world just like me.
My holiday was wonderful but now I am ready to enter my last week with full force moving forward. I have hit that spot where I am excited to go home yet just finally am feeling the breakthrough in the culture, with the people and at work. I am constantly looking to expand my mind and learn more about life happening around me. As much as this was a vacation it was more of also a learning experience, about myself and how I handle different situations.
My time here in India has been nothing under amazing. I have been living once in a lifetime experiences and meeting the most amazing people. After 3 months of living here, everyday things still happen where I simply must smile and laugh. Living in India is a day to day learning experience and the only thing that gets you through is an open and flexible mind and a sense of humor. I am thankful to everyone who has taken me and made me a part of their family for they made my time here so special. Who knows where the wind will lead me next but as for now it’s back to America. Back to Oregon. Back to Portland, my good ol’ stomping grounds. The final countdown, of my last days here in India has begun so I’m making it count. Next time I write it will be from back in the USA. ~Anna
“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love