One of UVA’s newest and most exciting programs is the UVA in India program. Taking place during the spring, it allows students to pursue studies in Indian language, history, and culture. Participants in the program learn how to rigorously apply their experiences in-country to their schoolwork, through research projects and internships. This semester, six UVA students are studying abroad through this program. One of them, Amanda Finn, agreed to share her experiences in India as well as her reflections on the program. Read through to see what she has to say on her semester abroad thus far!
Why did you choose the UVA in India program?
Amanda: I chose the UVA in India program since it was the first semester it had ever been offered. Also, I had been abroad to other countries in Europe, but figured that spending 6 months in India would be completely different than anything I had ever done in my life. I think I was looking for more of a challenge/cultural shock, and that’s why India seemed perfect!
What were your thoughts going into the program? Were you excited, or more nervous?
I was super excited beforehand. I had been abroad before, but never to anywhere so drastically different from the states! I honestly had no idea what to expect before I left, besides what I had heard/read from travel books and people who had previously been there.
Tell me about your first days in the program.
The first few days when we were here we just sort of walked around and explored. We actually had a student from UVA who is from Delhi show us around for the first couple of days (he was at home in Delhi for winter break). He took us to Old Delhi on our 3rd or 4th day of being in India. If you look up Old Delhi, you can see how INSANE it is (our house is in New Delhi). There are literally thousands of people on the streets, carrying anything you could possibly imagine. It’s the busiest place I’ve probably ever been. So I would say we really jumped right into the swing of things and immersed ourselves in the culture of Delhi.
What are some moments from your trip that stand out as particularly memorable?
The fact that there are only 6 of us makes it awesome for traveling as a group. We’ve been to Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mumbai, and Goa. Seeing the Taj was obviously amazing! Some of my favorite moments were riding camels and elephants in Rajasthan, Holi festival in Goa, and then all of the random hilarious encounters we have with people on the streets.
Describe the greatest challenges you have faced so far, be they language differences, homesickness, emergencies, etc. How have you dealt with these challenges?
We did go to the hospital for an allergic reaction, that was interesting! I think we would all say a big difference (not necessarily a challenge) is the food. We have a cook living in our house, so she cooks a traditional Indian breakfast, lunch, and dinner! If any of us has an issue we normally just talk about it over dinner and kind of just laugh about it.
Have you met other young people either from India or from other countries?
We take classes at Jamia Millia Islamia University with other Indian students. We’ve made friends through class, as well as through different connections we have with people who live around the city.
Looking back on your experience so far, what is your opinion of education abroad, in particular the UVA in India program?
I’m so glad I studied abroad, and in India in particular. I miss a lot of things about UVA, but the experiences I’ve gained through this program are seriously once in a lifetime!
The UVA in India students, taking a group photo outside a temple.