by: Courtney Kreb
I am finally getting around to writing my first blog post after being in Bangalore, India for almost a full week and what a week it has been. It has been a whirlwind full of activities, some that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Everything here is just so new and different to me. Even after much preparation and talking to those who went on the trip last year, nothing can truly prepare you for Bangalore. The city is exciting, huge, loud and truly has so much to offer. From riding in rickshaws to figuring out how to pay group bills in rupees and how much that means in dollars, it would be hard to fully describe everything that my mind has been taking in. There are some things that will take time for me to adjust to, like BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper), and other things that after a week I am already used to and find comforting. From day one I have found that everyone here is so hospitable. Every single interaction with people I have had in Bangalore has been extremely pleasant compared to the United States. Not only are the people here welcoming and friendly, but they make you feel right at home. When I stop to ask questions, especially about my gluten free diet, I get the sense that they actually want to help me and have gone out of their way many times to do so. Everyone has been so accommodating and made me feel very comfortable eating here which was my biggest concern going into the trip. It continues to amaze me how personable the people of Bangalore are compared to at home. This has me often finding myself wondering what the people I meet in Bangalore would think if they visited Chicago.
As for the schools, they are amazing in every way possible. As a group, we toured all four of the schools that students in our group will be placed at for the next six weeks. I was shocked by the size of the schools and the amount of land they sit on. Every single school was beautiful and unique in its own way. I will be at Vidyashilp Academy with two other students, Liz and Maddie, during my time here. From what I have seen so far after the tour and my first day there, this school is fantastic. After just one day with the teachers and students there, I am eager to get back and see more. As I continue to blog I cannot wait to share with you my experiences at Vidyashilp and all that I learn about their intriguing schooling system.
P.S. Bangalore is 10.5 hours ahead of Chicago