I had experienced culture shock once before when I travelled to Japan. I do not know if I can quite compare that experience with my time in India thus far. The magitude of the population is truly overwhelming. From the minute I stepped off of the plane in New Delhi, I was surrounded by people – lots and lots of people. India is very full in nearly every way possible – full of different languages, religions, and smells. It’s truly an experience to be here. I cannot very well describe my time here, but I will try.

On the first day we travelled to many historic sites in India, to include: Jama Masjid, Red Fort, and the Humayan Tomb. Jama Masjid is a very large mosque located in the center of the city. All of the women in the group were forced to dawn long dresses, and we all took off our shoes. I suppose we were really emersing ourselves in the Indian culture. The mosque was ellaborate and very well maintained, but other sites demanded my attention. Young, scarcely clothed children grabbed at my hands begging for money, as their mothers could not feed them. It was my first real experience with some of the people here. Not to say everyone in India is in need, but this really impacted me. After we left the Jama Masjid, we travelled across New Delhi to the Red Fort, which should come with a map. We stayed with our tour guide for majoroty of the visit, but when left to our own devices, many of us got a little turned around. Our last stop was the Humayan Tomb, a “knock-off” of the Taj Mahal, which was also massive. All of the sites are very incredible, it all feels very surreal while there. When leaving the sites, the group was immediately approached by merchants, as we are all clearly easy targets. Yay for Americans!

That night, I took my first stab at real Indian food. I very much enjoy American-Indian fusion, but this was quite different. Firstly, the buffet was frightening, and I had no clue what was what or which thing to eat with which. Secondly, I’m not too lucky, and I struck out with my first plate. I tried tid bits of others, but I decided to hang it up and settle with granola. I figured I had a lot of time to be adventurous.

We departed the hotel for the American Center early the next mornig. The group encountered a great deal of securtiy, and I was chastized for my iPad. Oops. While there, I learned a great deal about the current political practices of India as well as the corruption. Mr. Craig O’Connor answered all of our questions very honestly, as he spoke about how difficult it truly is to operate and thrive in India. Those with power continue to exploit those with none. Great changes must be made, and he remains quite hopeful. As do I. After a better lunch experience, we made our way to Indiabulls, a financial services company. A few young entrepreneurs from New Delhi left India to learn the ropes of big business and continue their education. Years later, they all returned to India to create Indiabulls. Now, a billion dollar company, Indiabulls has risen to the second most competitive financial services company in India. The speakers were all very excited about the future, as profits were estimated to rise continuously. After a long trek back to the hotel, some of the group and I gave way to Western food. I thoroughly enjoyed my Americanized cheese pizza that night.

Overall, I have really enjoyed myself. I can really appreciate the various cultures present in India. I am really drawn to the people’s ability to coexist well amongst their differences. I cannot fathom a street with seven different religious insitituions on it in the U.S. I mean, I can fathom it, but it would in no way be peaceful. At first, I thought India was quite chaotic, but as I watch the people communicate with one another, it seems it all works just fine. That is all I have thus far, but I’m sure a great deal will happen before I head back to the states.

-Alison Stinson