Pre-Trip International Experience
I'm not much of a photographer, so when I headed off for a week of travel in India prior to the start of our official international experience, I left my camera charger behind. Mistake! I ran out of battery on Day 1 and spent the rest of the week with no camera, no internet, and no journal. My mother will not be happy, but it was liberating to live in the moment in the midst of the shutterbug tourists. We have a week between the end of classes and the start of international experience. Many people use this time to visit family and friends, take a vacation, or travel in the country they will be visiting. I chose to travel alone in Maharashtra before joining our group in Mumbai for the India trip. It was an outstanding counterpoint to our formal international experience, and one that I would definitely recommend. The formal part of our trip has exceeded my (high) expectations and been an incredible source of learning and personal growth. But there are certain things that you will never learn when someone else sets the itinerary, however good it may be. At the end of my week of travels, I felt like I only knew one fingernail of India. But the trains I rode, food I ate, beds I slept in and people I met helped me to contextualize the high-powered meetings and macroeconomic discussions that characterize our formal trip. To me, independent travel is an integral part of the international experience!