There seem to be two common reactions I get when I tell people I’m going to India for an internship: jealousy and excitement or the bewildered and wide-eyed response; “why India?” I can see how some may be taken-aback. India doesn’t often end up on the top of everyone’s dream destinations list.
Most of the people I’ve talked to have said something or other about the dangers, chaos, pollution, poverty, overpopulation, and any other expectations that many Americans typically have about the South Asian country. I get it. I know these things are extremely real and serious in many parts of India, but they’re not all that India is. And they shouldn’t stop anyone from going. They’re sure not stopping me.
Yes, I’ll be honest. I’m extremely nervous. My anxiety has been building up for weeks. And, now that I leave in less than 24 hours, it’s at its peak. I feel this overwhelming mixture of nerves, excitement, and joy that is currently at the level of Sue in the SNL Birthday Party Surprise skit:
Yup, looks about right.
I think I’m anxious because I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know much about India other than what I’ve been persistently reading online and in my “Lonely Planet” guidebook. But I think that’s the beauty of this trip. There’s something wonderful about packing up and heading to a country that you’re entirely unfamiliar with. Not only do you get to experience a culture you’re unaccustomed to, but you’re forced to break your boundaries and escape from your little bubble of comfort and normalcy. And what’s more beautiful than detaching yourself from what’s familiar and doing something that scares you? We’ve all got to push past our fears and apprehensions at some point. If we didn’t, how would we grow?
For the most part, though, I’m extremely excited to see what India has to offer. I can’t wait to experience all its magic, colors, smells, tastes, sounds, and people (and the animals too, duh). And I can’t wait to physically delve into the culture head on, rather than read about it on a screen or book. Many have said to be prepared for a huge culture shock and I say–bring it on. I’m ready for a life changing experience.
And yet, even while I write this, the fact that I’ll be in India so soon doesn’t feel real. It probably won’t fully set in until my dad’s car pulls away from the departures curb and I walk towards the airport doors with my suitcases and sweaty palms. My heart will most likely feel like it’s about to burst through my chest (it already kind of feels like that now), but I know I can do this. I can do this, right? Yes. I can. I can. I can.
India, here I come.