I’ve had some of my greatest life experiences during the four and a half weeks I spent on a Round Square exchange program in India. Through Round Square, Cate arranged an exchange with Daly College in Indore, India. Last spring, Rishika Maheshwari came to Cate for roughly a month, and then I completed the exchange from mid-July to mid-August this summer. Every day in India was an adventure.
At Daly College, I was considered a student—I followed their strict schedule, I participated in the athletics and even dressed in their school uniform every day. Though I spent the majority of my time as a boarding student on campus, the school provided me with many opportunities to visit historical sites and explore India. I frequently took day trips to the museums, temples, and of course local markets around Indore. Additionally, the most memorable part of the exchange was the week I spent travelling to Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur with six other exchange students that I met at the school.
What made this experience so unique was that not only did I meet Indian boys and girls my age, but I also made incredibly valuable relationships with the exchange students from across the globe. Including myself, there were two Americans from California, two Germans, two Canadians, and a gap student from Colombia. Other than spending time together at Daly College – comparing our lives back home, and sharing the mutual experience of being in a foreign country—we spent a week together on the tour of India, from the Amer Fort to the Taj Mahal, and from riding camels to holding cobras. In Jaipur, we spent lots of time in the markets, bargaining frequently. In Agra, we learned about the history of the Taj and the Agra Fort. In Delhi, we were given an exclusive tour of the Rastrapati Bhawan, the President’s Estate, arranged by the former principal of Daly College who now works for the government. We didn’t get to meet the President, but we were only about ten feet away from her bedroom.
Another component of the exchange that I absolutely loved was my Hindi class, which took place at least three times a week. During the short time that I was in India, I learned tons of useful phrases, some of the written alphabet, and the National Anthem. The National Anthem was sung everyday at the school, so I was able to sing along with my friends. I also learned how to sing a beautiful Sanskrit prayer, which I hope I will remember for the rest of my life. It was amazing to communicate with my peers using phrases I had just learned from my Hindi class; immediately after stepping out of the classroom, I was able to utilize my Hindi vocabulary wherever I went. Because I was so intrigued and passionate about learning Hindi, the girls of my dorm (called Bharati House) decided to cast me in their Hindi play.
The hospitality of the girls I lived with was a type that I’ve never experienced before. I had little trouble adjusting to their school and their lifestyle, because of the genuine kindness that the students and teachers of Daly College possessed. My exchange to India was absolutely the best possible way I could’ve spent the summer of my junior year.