My India experience will be one that I will never forget. From the crazy way they drive to the way they bobble their heads, India will forever be engraved in my heart and mind.

Being that this was my first time out of the country, there was no way of knowing what type of experience I was about to embark on. I mean, yes, I’ve talked to others who have traveled abroad. I even talked to a few that have traveled to India, but no matter the length of the story, the detail, or even the over the top sound effects one may place there is nothing that compares to actually visiting India in person.

Before departing for India with (then) 21 other strangers, I had this weird perception that I would be lost in this enormous country to just take in the sights alone. To try and figure out answers to the one hundred and one questions I had. Little did I know, is that all 23 of us (including Dr. Gaspar) would become sort of a little family. We took on everything all the cities had to offer, from New Delhi to Mysore. We stuck together like glue while riding the little tut-tuts, poising for the natives, and even playing endless games on our many bus adventures. The lack of phone service may or may not played a huge role in our quality time, but it is something that I am extremely grateful for. I got the opportunity to really bond with most of them over the 2- weeks we were abroad.

Apart from all the fun exploring, we had plenty of time to learn about the actual business environment of India. We visited a number of businesses while we were there, as well as, our partner institutions. We had got first hand experience of how business may have to implement some very unique business models in order to accommodate not only the lucrative market that is India, but also combat many obstacles within each and every state of the same country in which they conduct their business. I really felt as if each business had something very unique about them, which allowed them to thrive, or even establish a presence in India. The total business environment of India (in my opinion) is extremely hostile. It seems as if you have secure a business strategy that not only works for your company, but also deal with countless external factors such as; power outages, huge infrastructure problems as it deals with transporting goods, and well being of their workers.

After coming back home from my adventurous abroad, I already knew I would get the typical questions like, “How was the trip? What did you like/dislike? Did you ride an elephant? Did you like the food?” The last questions being my personal favorite. It is really hard to explain the unique taste of some of the dishes, that was prepared, but all in all they were to die for.

If I had to recommend this trip to anyone else, I would do it in a heartbeat. You just do not go and visit India. You really go and experience India. That is something that may sound a bit strange to some, but for those that have made it from New Delhi to Mysore and back, will completely understand where I am coming from. (Masala)

Categories: 2016 Trip

My time in India was incredible and something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. This was my first trip outside of the US and it sparked something inside of me to become the next world traveler. I find myself looking at the map on my wall wondering where my next adventure will be. Growing up in the US is like growing up in a bubble. I love the US and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, however, there is so much more out there. Different cultures intrigue me and I want to continue to explore. I loved exploring India and I loved conversing with the people there. It has impacted my life in more ways than I probably even know. I have been back for about a week now and I am still reflecting on my time abroad.

 

Before I left, many people had talked to me about India as a place that is very dirty, has corruption as well as a huge population, and is a place that no one actually follows the traffic lanes. While I found all of these to be true, I found that India has this incredible way of having this mess that actually functions pretty well.

 

When I first got off the plane in New Delhi, it was hard to breath due to how polluted the air was. I saw first hand how unsanitary everything was. I noticed stray dogs everywhere and when we drove down the first main road (not within a lane), the amount of homeless people was astonishing. We then started our cultural visit the next day and we interacted with many Indians. I remember thinking how different our cultures and lifestyles were, but when I had a conversation with an Indian, I realized that we are all connected and really not that different from one another.

 

Despite all the challenges, India has many notable companies that are very successful. We were lucky enough to get to meet up with some of them! I believe India is on their way to becoming a major powerhouse with their huge population. Yes, they have obstacles to overcome but they have done a great job on progressing thus far and I suspect we will eventually be looking at a more developed country. While traveling we found that North and South India are very different. I believe the South is more of the direction that India will head, as they have a lot better infrastructure.

 

I suspect India will change dramatically as far as infrastructure and development goes. Who knows, I might have to go visit again when I’m older. I learned so much from this trip and wouldn’t trade it for anything. India was so unique and had some of the most breathtaking architecture that I had ever seen. When I first laid my eyes on the Taj Mahal I was speechless and it was completely breathtaking. I would encourage everyone to travel the world and learn about the culture and businesses because it truly does impact you and you will carry those memories with you for the rest of your life.

Categories: 2016 Trip

It has been a week since I’ve roamed the exciting streets of India and I must say that it still feels unreal. With being asked how was my experience and how was India overall, it is quite difficult to explain. The best way to do so is visually show people all the amazing things that I encountered. It is true that India is a place that you have to visit in order to get the true feel for it, books and documentaries don’t serve much justice. Of course, every good thing has its down falls. In comparison to the U.S it is clear to see that India has a lot more improvement to make in order to become a well rounded leading country in today’s world.

Explaining to people how India has so much potential  is highly important because there are many people who are uneducated on the youth who are gearing up to take control of India. Visiting two college campuses in India and interacting with the students allowed us Americans to see the love and dedication that they have for their country and its improvement. The students at the campus are innovative individuals and have to follow a strict class schedule which in America we have the ability to choose. We also visited a school that was dedicated to a much younger generation. Prior to the visit we were informed that their school meal was the only guaranteed meal that might receive for the day. Where in America there are some communities that suffer from a hunger problem, but to a lesser extent. It was a huge reality check that even though we may complain about simple things that have little to no meaning, there are children across the world who are struggling to find a meal. Walking through the streets and seeing families in poverty was a hard thing to handle.

While in India we toured a few companies to learn on how they have grown so much and are so successful. One tour that stood out in particular was Hero Motorcylce company. In high school I interned for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio, Texas. With insight on how an American company operates I was excited to compare the differences in the two. In America safety is always the number one concern because employees are highly valued . In the Hero factory I quickly noticed that the many employees did not have hard hats, eye protection or steel toe shoes. In the Toyota plant in America, visitors weren’t even allowed on the floor without a hard hat. In addition, in the Unibic cookie factory, employees were working in flip flops which is something that we’re not used to in America. Nonetheless the businesses that we visited take great pride in their product and are continuing to break down barriers and achieve even more success.

With the improvement of infrastructure the economy of India could take off faster than ever. In most commercial areas in the U.S the city would make sure to keep up with that area’s appearance to attract customers and encourage tourists to explore. In India it is extremely common to find uneven pavement and incomplete sidewalks. There were many times where myself or other individuals almost tripped. With the chaotic traffic, walking through the streets of India required a lot of concentration. Everything there is fast paced and of course, us Americans stood out like a sore thumb. As soon as we landed in Houston and exited the airport, it felt strange to actually hear the hum of the car on the road and hear no honking what so ever. The best way to explain Indian driving is to compare it to a child playing a racing game.

Excluding all of the major differences, India was  an exciting place. From the phenomenal buildings and history to the spicy and delicious food, I am truly glad that I got to experience such an amazing country.

Categories: 2016 Trip

For the last three days of our 15 day excursion through India, all I could think about was the bacon and cheese Whataburger I was going to devour as soon as we landed in Texas. And when I got home that’s exactly what I did. However, after binging on every American thing I had wanted the past two weeks, I started to think about all the things we did and saw while in India. We saw some of the most beautiful cultural sites and visited many companies based in India. We experienced some of the nicest people in India and some of the (what we would consider) most rude. That being said, the way we view behavior is very different then Indians. Actually, almost every aspect of our lives is different, down to the most basic things like using the restroom. I had a very difficult time trying to explain my experiences to people here a home. The English language has over one million words, and although I do not know them all, of the ones I do know, I have still recently been at a loss when explaining things I saw or felt.

I came home with a whole new perspective on our way of life. Yes, many of us have earned what we have, but if we were not presented with the opportunities we have here, we most likely would not have as much. We take for granted our education, our legal system, our national security, and many many more things that we are entitled to just from being in America. India is a fascinating country, with rich culture, amazing food, and some of the most amazing human works I have ever seen. The fact that every state has its own language (or two or three), is an amazing feat. Can you imagine driving to Oklahoma and not being able to talk to a person at a convenience store? That is very much what its like in India. The way they drive in India is insane! The entire first week we were there, I was constantly afraid we were going to wreck or hit someone. Traffic signals and lanes are just suggestions, not rules. If there is an open place on the road, you take it. The honking is almost constant. They actually honk to tell each other where they are!

This was my first time abroad, and I will say, it was amazing. I may not have liked everything about India, but it did give me a new perspective on my life and the life of people around the world. It opened up my eyes to just how different the world is from small town Texas. I would not trade this trip and the memories and friends I made for anything in the world.

 

Categories: 2016 Trip

After thirty hours traveling back to Texas, forty eight hours of sleeping, and a million “american” meals I can truly say that I loved every second of my time in India. I have been asked a million questions regarding my trip and all of stories have been filled with exciting, funny, once in a life time experiences. If it weren’t for how long it takes to get there, I would be on a flight back at the end of the semester.

We began our journey in New Delhi which was shocking from the minute we stepped off of the plane. There were dogs everywhere, so many people I couldn’t even count, officers with guns, and smog. The drive to the hotel was just as informative, as I learned that there are no real driving laws in India. After an exhausting day of traveling we only had a few hours to get settled and squeeze in a little bit of shut eye before an full day of cultural visits. Melody, my roommate, and I lost precious minutes while trying to understand how to turn on the lights in our room. After about ten minutes of confusion, and a tutorial from our neighbors, we finally learned to place our hotel key in the electricity slot. That was one thing I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by.

The next morning we started the day off bright and early, and very sleepy. Our first stop was the largest mosque in India which I adored. This was the first place I was able to experience the culture of this incredible country. The architecture alone was breathtaking and the people were incredibly nice. During this day we had many visits that met all of my expectations, but what really grabbed my attention was the non tourist attractions. Luckily, we are able to afford a nice charter bus to take us to all of our destinations, but outside those windows were things I had only seen in movies. I couldn’t have prepared myself for how many people were homeless, in need, or making a living by selling anything they could. I was utterly shocked by how much bargaining was done because these people just needed any amount of money they could get to survive. It really put into perspective how lucky I was to even have the opportunity to witness the difference of my every day life from theirs.

Outside of New Delhi we took a four hour bus ride to the Taj Mahal. This was one of my favorite places to visit based solely on architectural achievement and history. To imagine the time period that this massive structure was built in and the seventeen years of work it took to complete made the entire thing even more awe inspiring. I never understood fully that the Taj Mahal had been built out of a passionate, unbreakable love until I witnessed it for myself. And it’s truly unfathomable that the entire building is made out of marble and is 99.9% symmetrical. There are few places that I have been in my life that I believe are something you must see in person to fully appreciate, but this is definitely one of them.

Continuing our study abroad we moved on to Bangalore, which was surprisingly very similar to LA. Immediately when we landed we noticed the clear skies, palm trees, greenery, and clean streets. There was an absence of dogs and honking, and had established a better environmentally friendly mindset. On this first day myself and another student were separated from the group and had a grand adventure locating them on our own. I personally thought it was a great experience that no one else would have the pleasure of retelling to family and friends.

While in Bangalore, we again had many visits that were all very enlightening. Only one touched my heart and made me fall in love with the people even more. Akshaya Patra is a foundation that focuses on providing school children with lunches. They believe that no child should be deprived of an education due to the lack of food. I had the opportunity to meet with the students at one of their schools and I’ve never met a group of kids so excited to meet new people. They helped me pronounce their names, and laughed at mine. They thought it was funny that I wore my hair in a bun and how I said certain words. The best part was at the end of the visit I offered a hug to them, and although at first they didn’t seem to understand, they warmed up to me and left an impression on me to last a life time.

After another long drive we arrived in Mysore, where I celebrated my 21st birthday with the group. Dr. Gaspar thoughtfully had a cake made for me and everyone sang happy birthday. Then we headed in to town for some of the students to get a tailored suit made. During this time a parade appeared out of no where! There were people dancing in the streets singing to the God Krishna. I joined them and danced with the kids in the middle of the street under a curtain of sparklers. It was one the most incredible end to a well celebrated birthday. In Mysore we also had the opportunity to visit Reid & Taylor. This was my favorite corporate visit because, as a supply chain management major, I was able to see their supply chain operations first hand. I never knew the amount of time and effort that was put into making thread and fabric. It was one of the coolest experiences I had been a part of, and I was even able to take home a swatch of their most expensive fabric.

All in all, India was one of the greatest trips I have ever been on. Studying abroad here was something I will never forget and I hope I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to go back one day.

Categories: 2016 Trip

It has been a week since I was in India and I am still reflecting on my time there, but I have come to a few conclusions. One, India is a very exciting place from the people, to its food, and especially their culture. Second, India is definitely a country to watch in the business world, because with a growing population that will soon earn them the title of the most populous country in the world they will be put into a position of power on a global stage. Third, India is heading in a positive direction and making moves to shift their status of a developing country into a developed one, even with their slow progress, they are making an effort. Which is the first step.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, India is a place of dichotomies. In the north it is very polluted and populated, some might say overcrowded. It definitely meets your expectations of the typical picture of India we have in our head. However, in the south it is much more developed and has better infrastructure, and not what I expected. Despite this difference there are still many notable companies emerging in both areas. This is a testament to the corporate global force that is India, with so many people there are so many minds and with that there are emerging companies that are creating amazing things and doing it a lot better than a lot of companies all over the world! This could definitely be seen in two companies of the companies we visited, and they also were the ones I found the most interesting. In New Delhi, we visited Hero Motorcycles and that was an amazing experience for me. I had never seen anything being manufactured before and this was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. It was a combination of machines and manpower, and it was so efficient. It surprised me how sophisticated their manufacturing process was. We flew into Bangalore next, which was very different from New Delhi. It was clean, new, and there were tall buildings everywhere. It is definitely filled with a lot of young people, probably because it is the tech center of India. We visited Infosys, which looked a lot like Google with its amenities and policies. These two companies represent some of India’s greatest companies as far as success and sophistication. It’s interesting to see how an environment like India that is still a developing country and has such little infrastructure can produce companies such as these. It definitely surprised me and I am sure others. We also visited the U.S. Commercial Service, which really opened my eyes to the true environment of business in India. I never realized that the U.S. worked so hard to improve trade with India and would matchmake with companies wanting to enter the market and those within India. They reiterated what I had suspected, that India is a great place to do business, but it is currently still difficult and that you should enter with caution.

After visiting India I can see firsthand all of the challenges they face, from the lack of sidewalks, trashcans, electricity, and toilets to the abundance of trash, stray dogs, power outages, and people. However, seeing two dramatically different places such as New Delhi, which to me represents India’s present state, and Bangalore, which to me represents a glimpse at India’s future they definitely are on their way to becoming very powerful on the global stage once they fix these infrastructure problems among other things. Seeing, firsthand, that India is on the right track and taking those initial steps is very encouraging.

Overall, my trip to India was eyeopening and it was a blast! I had the time of my life in India! I encourage anyone that gets the chance to go to India, to do just that and go. I ate some delicious and sometimes weird food. I saw some amazing sights. I met some great people. I made incredible memories. And finally, I learned more than I ever thought I would!

 

 

Categories: 2016 Trip

“Wait, are you serious?” is the typical reaction I get from people when they ask what I did for winter break and I tell them I went to India. The trip flew by so quickly, I hardly even think it was real sometimes. Then almost always the next question is, “How was it?!” and surprisingly, that can be highly difficult to answer. I don’t really know how to begin my answer. India was everything from frustrating to breathtaking, and I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it.

Over this past week of adjustment back to the states life, I’m spending time trying to deeply reflect on my journey to India. There are three main reoccurring themes that have stuck out to me: people, time is never important, the beauty in differences. The people have to be the biggest asset India has to offer. India is a third of the physical size of the USA, but has three times the population size. This whole concept was hard for me to even image, until I experienced Sunday morning flea markets in Delhi. And then I was finally able to comprehend the sheer amount of people. Furthermore, the students at the universities that we visited were some of the coolest people I have ever met. It blew my mind how on the other side of the world, there are young adults, just like me with similar interests, goals and values. The students I met were beyond welcoming and let us dive in and explore their culture without hesitations. I absolutely loved learning their dances, languages and simply just getting to know more about them.

Also, the whole concept of time was a huge theme during this trip. It felt like it would take forever to get across town. We would visit companies that were only 10miles away, but would take an hour to get to! Bus time then became a fun time of talking with friends, looking out the window, and trying to catch up on much needed sleep. Jet lag was also extremely real. The 180 flip of 12 hours difference really messed with my body coming there and is still messing with me now that I’m back. I still wake up super early in the morning and feel like crashing at 4pm in the afternoon. Maybe in a week I’ll finally be able to be back to normal… although I do like being energetic for my 9am class!

Finally, my journey to India has really made me appreciate the differences that cultures have. It was so exciting and fun to be able to learn how people on the other side of the world live and think. I loved seeing how devoted the Indians were to their faiths. I might not understand their religions, but being able to see how others worship was truly fascinating. I also enjoyed developing a new love for curry and naan! I might not be able to eat it the way they do, but I sure as heck enjoyed the tastes! Even seeing how they conduct business was fascinating. The work-life culture and balance was neat to see in the companies.

Overall, my journey to India was a once in a life time one. I know that I may not have the opportunity to experience anything like this again and I’m so incredibly thankful to have been able to take part in it. Until next time India!

IMG_4481IMG_4500

Categories: 2016 Trip

For four years I dreamed of going to India. At first, it was a fascination with the culture that drove me to want to visit, but as I learned more about the country, I found the reason I so longed to visit the country is because of their devotion to what they believe – the way the live is a direct representation of what their religious ideals and as a result, the entire cultural worldview of India is shaped from these beliefs.

 

Hinduism is the main religion in India. The main tenants of Hinduism are the belief in many gods, who control different aspects of ones life. Additionally, the Hindus believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is a major factor as to why they have cows and other various animals roaming free around the city. I learned, they believe the cows are sacred – they could be their reincarnated ancestors.

 

Something that caught me off guard about the Indian culture is their hospitality. They are some of the most loving and caring people I have met. I had the opportunity to have dinner at a Indian’s family house in Bangalore where I felt just as loved and cared for as if I were in my own home. They made me a traditional Indian dinner and dessert, but also were mind enough to make me pasta, “just in case you missed home!”

 

The other unique thing we had the opportunity to do in India is visit a couple of college campuses. We had the chance to interact with students our age we are learning the same materials we are. We talked about culture, life and current events and were able to have genuine conversation as friends.

 

Finally, I got to see first hand the poverty that is so prevalent in India. India is a thriving economy and the businesses there our booming. But, that does not make up for the fact that there is so much poverty around. There are children and families everywhere on the streets begging for money and asking for food. Poverty is definitely something India will have to deal with in the near future even while their economy is thriving.

 

India was all I could have imagined and more. The colors are exciting, the people are incredible and the entire culture is exhilarating. There is so much to see, so much to do and so many people to meet. I am thankful for my visit to India and look forward to the opportunity to visit again in the future.

Categories: 2016 Trip

It’s been a week since we got back to the states and I miss India more than I ever thought I would. I had no idea going in that I would love the trip and country as much as I did. I originally chose India as my study abroad destination, partly because my friend talked me into it and partly because I wanted to go somewhere that I’d never go on my own later in life. As of today, I would go back to India in a heartbeat for a family vacation or any reason really. I had such a great time!

When I arrived in New Delhi, I immediately saw all the things that first come to mind when people talk about India: trash everywhere, tons of people, and their crazy driving style. In the beginning, I had a hard time looking beyond the filthiness and poverty, but eventually I could look past it all and take in how unique and amazing the country really is. I have never seen anything like it and at first it was hard to grasp that I was indeed half way around the world. The first day of exploring we saw some amazing things like a mosque, a fort, and what seemed like a million people walking on the street, which helped it sink in that I was, in fact, in India. A few days into our trip we headed to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It was definitely breathtaking and everything we learned about it from the tour guide was very intriguing. I remember thinking the whole time, “there is no way this is real” but I was looking straight at it, so it was. It was definitely the best attraction we got to see. After about four days in New Delhi, we found ourselves on another plane heading south to Bangalore.

Bangalore was so different than New Delhi; it was more industrial, where New Delhi had more government buildings. The traffic was way worse and the roads were much narrower. It also seemed like it was still developing because there were new buildings going up everywhere. But the trash was just as bad and it was still very populated. We did more company visits than sight-seeing here, which makes sense because this town was booming with huge companies. I had never seen an assembly line before, so I found those company visits the most interesting, with UNIBIC being my favorite because I love baking. Our time in Bangalore was short, after just three days we were packing up and heading to Mysore, my favorite city of the trip.

Mysore was way different from both New Delhi and Bangalore. It was more historic and I thought much cleaner (if there is such a thing as clean in India). I didn’t see as many stray dogs either and later I found out from one of the students at SDMIMD, it’s because they have dog shelters there. The traffic was also not that bad and the city was more spread out, so there didn’t seem to be as many people. Here, we had more free time and were less rushed to get everywhere so it was more relaxing to me. I also got to ride a motorbike around the city which was so thrilling. From the beginning of the trip, I was so entertained by how Indians drive, so actually getting to experience it was probably the second best thing I did on the trip (right after seeing the Taj Mahal of course). Although we had the most time here, it felt like no time had passed and we were packing up to head back to America.

As our time in India came to a close, I really thought about the life changing trip I had just been on. I reminisced on all the things we had done in such a short time and realized that I had made the best choice by choosing India as my winter break study abroad. I am so glad I had this opportunity and will cherish the memories for a life time. And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll find my way back to India.

Categories: 2016 Trip

What an adjustment it has been coming from India, where everything is different, jumping back into a normal routine with hardly any down time before starting back to school, meetings, and friends. Although everything looks the same on the outside starting this semester compared to ones in the past, there is something different about this semester upon returning from India. I am not satisfying with my small little life after seeing such a beautiful and unique way of life. There is a world beyond my mediocre problems and every day petty routine I so easily get trapped in. It has been a challenge this past week back in College Station processing everything I experienced. Although I have traveled many times in the past, including to Nairobi, Kenya, this trip was incomparable and sparked something deep within me. I fell in love with the people and culture in India and am already dreaming of when I can return. The sights, colors, traffic, and food- it all combined to make one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

As a country, India has such beauty, life, and the potential to be the leading global competitor. There are more questions than answers when it comes to the problems the nation faces, but by starting small and tackling the issues head on, I believe there can be a reversal. Education is a huge factor that could change the course of poverty, law enforcement, and making sure citizens are informed. Indian’s as a whole possess immense talent and passion, and that is something that cannot be learned.

As we drove through the city of Agra to the Taj Mahal I noticed the phrase “India Rising” painted periodically on walls throughout the city with a rising sun. I could not have chosen a better phrase to describe what is happening in India. I cannot wait to see where this nation is in 20 years and all that the people come to accomplish.

 

Categories: 2016 Trip