University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First Generation Abroad: India

February 28th, 2018

I am happy to be writing to you since returning from the 2017-2018 India Winterim Study Abroad Program. It was an adventure to say the least, but I hope my letter will provide you with some insight and direction in your choices of studying abroad. I will describe the sites visited as well as the field based learning opportunities.

I studied abroad in Bangalore, Karnataka, India in the section titled: Youth, Nutrition, and Foods. This program aimed to educate students about India’s overall culture and cuisine, the ways in which schools and businesses work together to feed India’s children living in low income populations and/or living with disabilities, and the history of India to provide a better understanding of it’s current landscape today.

As a first generation student like you at the University of Iowa studying Global Health and Pre-Nursing, memorable experiences for me included working with children with disabilities at Samarthan. The courses I have taken at the University of Iowa in regards to Health and Human Physiology and Nutrition helped me immensely in understanding the nutritional needs of children.

Other memorable experiences included: visiting Ashkaya Patra, an organization working to serve breakfast and lunch meals to children in school, ‘camping’ in the mountainous area of Coorg outside of Bangalore, learning how to cook my new favorite Indian dish Pani Puri, and being treated with such respect and kindness by our hosts of the program and other Indian people.

While study abroad trips are exciting, there will be cultural barriers to which everyone reacts differently. Similar to many of my peers identifying first generation college students, I have never traveled much. These barriers, such as not having my normal routine, different food and eating patterns, and a new group of people to adapt to and learn from gave me some anxiety. I learned that every new experience requires me to adjust and continue to learn for my future career.

With these barriers aside, there are many insights from the Indian people that encouraged me to learn and grow. This program was based on food and cooking, so many discussions and cooking lessons were held. I think one of the most valuable lessons I received from the Indian culture and people themselves was their positivity and kindness towards one another and the goal to keep their culture alive and the ones they love healthy through one of the best medicines: food and nutrition.

It would be impossible to write about all the experiences I had like visiting Dubare Elephant Camp, making new friends, and yoga. Consider studying abroad and know that there may be some challenges, but use your patience and the resources you have. Studying abroad gives you another way to learn and shapes an additional way of thinking other than your own. It was worth it for me.

 

Please note that the opinions and views expressed by diversity ambassadors are solely those of the students and do not reflect or represent the views of International Programs or the University of Iowa.

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