India is the second-most populous country in the world. The majority of the population lives in rural conditions and the average income of an Indian is no more than a few hundred dollars a year. While these facts may paint a picture of India in your mind as a struggling developing country, there is more to what meets the eye. India is a country rich in culture and home to some of the biggest known personalities in the world. If you have decided to take a semester abroad in it, then you have made an excellent decision. Let’s have a look at a few things that you must know before you finally take that trip to India.
You Will Experience a Culture Shock
Make no mistakes, India is a lot more different in the United States, and when you arrive there, you will experience a culture shock. Things work differently in different parts of India. If you are in a big city, you will see a crowded metro as you have never witnessed before. The food there is too spicy for our liking. A lot of people wear different clothes than you see in the US. Especially the women, as you will most of them are wearing sarees. And as a tourist, you will feel like a celebrity because Indians love their tourists.
As I said, things do not work the same way as they do back in the states. If you think that you will be able to manage your expenses on your own, then you are wrong. You would not be able to find a job any time sooner after arriving because of the language barrier. And even if you do you would not be able to earn enough amount. So make sure you have enough money to get through the entire semester. You can also ask your family to send money to India from the U.S. as it has become quite easier with the help of money transfer services such as Western Union.
Second Biggest English Speaking Country
Do you know India is the second biggest English speaking country by population! That means it has more English speakers than Canada and even the UK. So, you will be able to get by quite fine there. Not everyone in the streets speaks English, but you will be able to communicate fine at the university and the restaurants. It will also make it easier for you to socialize as the young generation in the city areas of India is quite fluent in English.
It Is Immensely Diverse
The best part of visiting India is that you would not experience a single culture but a handful of them. India is a lot more diverse than you think. You will find all kinds of people in India. There are hundreds of different languages spoken in the country and the dialects are even greater in number. You will see the heartbreaking scenes of slum houses and you will witness people having fun inexpensive cars. The possibilities of how your experience in India will go are countless.
Despite all the progress in the last century, India is still a traditional country. One of the things they pay special attention to is the way they dress. All Indians, women especially, tend to be conservative when it comes to their attire. As a foreigner, you should follow their dress code whenever going outside your apartment or dorm. When in classes, observe how the majority of the students are dressed and adjust your wardrobe accordingly. The same applies when going out on the streets. As a general rule, try to blend in. You can always buy some Indian clothes and wear them. They are very colorful and fun to wear and people like to see foreigners dressed in their traditional garbs.
People Will Stare
If you are coming from a Western country, no amount of blend will hide the fact that you are a foreigner. Get used to the idea that people will stare at you. That may be uncomfortable, but in most cases, it is harmless. They are just curious to see blond hair or white skin. In general, Indian people love to help foreigners and will often bend over backward to accommodate you. This can be very helpful if you get lost in infamous gullies and your GPS quits on you. Ask a local and they will gladly explain or even guide you to your destination. Their curiosity can be excused.
Pack A Lot of Patience
Time moves on a different scale in India. The phrase “It will be done today” doesn’t necessarily mean today in the Western sense of the word. The Indians have their ways and they are pretty set in them when it comes to doing things in a timely manner. Do not take this personally, it just the way things are and you, or anyone else for that matter, can change it. You will save yourself a lot of agitation if you accept that fact. Another thing that annoys most foreigners is traffic. The streets are packed with all sorts of vehicles and pedestrians and at times it seems that there is no movement. Indian cities are massively overcrowded and traffic can be a nightmare. The same goes for public transport. Arm yourself with patience, and try to enjoy the experience as much as you can.
There are more than 1.2 billion people in India. This is especially obvious in big cities, where universities are located. Everything is crowded, from study halls and classrooms to dorms and streets. At times, it can seem that half of the human population lives in India. With so many people, it can’t be helped. This is one of the things that overwhelm students from less crowded countries. They often say that this is the biggest shock they experience when starting their studies in India. People with social anxiety can have a hard time adjusting themselves to the Indian crowds. In time, you will get used to it, to the point that streets of any major city in Europe or America will look deserted when you go home.