EXCHANGE: THE INDIAN WAY

By Meghna Joshi

As of late, a lot of exchange applicants have approached me with the desire to gain a comprehensive understanding of what it is like to study in India. As someone who has been born and raised in Mumbai, I’m probably in a good position to tell you what you must consider before you venture out half-way across the world.

The Institution
The Jindal School of Liberal Arts is a private school, one of many institutions under the umbrella of ‘Jindal’ (who is essentially this big-time billionaire obsessed with ‘quality education’). Do I recommend the institution itself? If I were to abandon my cultural perspective for a little while and assess the distinction of the school: sure it’s great. It is full of facilities for a comfortable life: gyms, sport grounds, common-rooms, dining-halls (not looking forward to that again, are you?), dormitories, etc. It has connections to great institutions across the world and a course syllabus relatively similar to that of UCU. However, from the perspective of someone who has lived in the country her whole life, private schools in India are considered to be easy to get into, though also offer relatively high-quality education. The crème de la crème of the country may be found in top-tier engineering and law schools, along with other specific three-year educational institutions.

The Location
The school is located a little outside of the capital: New Delhi. It is connected to the city via a metro system and other cheap public transport. New Delhi is itself bustling with culture, and has a lot of good food (watch out for the spice though!), amateur theatre, bookstores and shopping to look out for!

Where to Travel
In New Delhi:
1. Sarojini Market
2. Akshardham Temple
3. Qutub Minar
4. Khan Market

Across India (Personal Recommendations!):
1. Mumbai: The glitzy and fast-paced Bollywood capital is a must-visit. If you’re done strolling down Marine Drive (the long boulevard along the coast), you could indulge in some inexpensive shopping at Causeway (watch out for the junk jewellery!), or hang-around at the numerous bars, clubs and cafes in Colaba and Bandra.

2. Goa: probably the biggest party capital in India! With its cheap booze, great beaches and Portuguese-inspired architecture, head to Goa if you need a break from Delhi’s crowds and pollution.

3. Backpack across the Himalayas!

Culture Shock?
You are going to be thrown into a disarray of people, colours, and languages. Remember to use sunscreen if you want to survive New Delhi’s summer (temperatures have known to rise to a whopping 40 degrees!). Your saving grace: you are bound to find someone who can speak English to get you through. Most administrative processes, road-signs, and restaurant menus in India are in English as well.

The Bottom Line
Do I recommend India as an exchange destination? For the specific institution, not so much. For the experience, absolutely. Prepare to push past your comfort zone. You will come back resilient; but perhaps even more so, you will come back with a zest for life after being soaked in Indian hospitality, food,and culture.

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