Tummy Trouble


Warning: Diarrhea talk below.

It’s hard to love this place when it’s essentially eating your stomach. I’ve been having a pretty rough time for the last 36 hours, mostly sleeping and laying in my room, running to the bathroom every couple hours. But today is the first day of classes, so we walked 3 kilometers (about 45 minutes) to school this morning and I basically wanted to pass out on the side of the road. Diarrhea tummy and heat don’t really mix too well.

I don’t know how people here deal with the stomach flu or other things that make your stomach unsettled, because the food here isn’t really soothing for my nausea. I’m sure they have soups of some kind, but I had a hard time even venturing out of my apartment yesterday for fear of needing a bathroom and not being able to find one.

Lipton boxed chicken noodle soup has definitely saved me, so I’m not about to keel over from lack of nourishment, and I brought some Gatorade so at least I won’t die here! (It’s not really that bad, I just like being dramatic.)

Anyway, today should be exciting to say the least. Wish me luck!

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First Impressions


…aka a whole bunch of babbling about this beautiful, crazy city. I sent my family an email and figured instead of writing a new post, I’d just post parts of it here (lightly edited for clarification purposes) because I’m exhausted and it’s only 8 pm. The sun sets here around 6:30, so…it’s hard to stay up super late because we feel like it’s so late already.

Jet lag hasn’t really been a problem, which I’m surprised about. My sister always takes like a week to adjust, and her husband does too. Even one of the girls in the program who has travelled extensively said she’s surprised none of us are too jet lagged because usually she just sleeps for like a day or two when she arrives in Europe. So I guess we’re lucky! Or maybe we’ll feel it tomorrow? Haha…who knows.
It’s gorgeous here — I love the trees, they’re super tropical looking. There’s one kind that looks kiiiiinda like a jacaranda but with less blossoms that’s so gorgeous. They have bright orange/red blossoms and every time I see one I feel so happy. :)
I think mostly the weirdest/most different part is all the trash on the streets and sides of the roads. It’s everywhere, and people sit in trash heaps sometimes and pick through it. There’s also a lot of cow dung on the sidewalks that you have to avoid (it smells so bad!) and cows just chill on the side of the road really peacefully. There are donkeys too. The cars barely even slow down when people cross the street, but when cows cross the streets every single car comes to a complete stop and waits for the cow to cross, because they’re sacred here and slaughtering them is illegal, etc. They’re really beautiful animals — I don’t think I’d ever realized how massive they are.
You have to look down almost all the time when you walk because there are often huge holes in the sidewalk and if you fell in you’d seriously hurt yourself because they’re several feet deep and usually filled with icky water. We also live across the road from the open sewer-river thingy and it smells pretty bad but…honestly I’ve already gotten pretty used to the fact that everything here just smells a little bit decomposed. Sometimes I walk by shops that smell like incense and stop for a minute to cleanse my nose :)
Most of the people here are very dark skinned and pretty short, with rounder features than Europeans. They definitely seem tiny compared to me and a couple of the other people in the group, and when we bought a few clothes yesterday I didn’t fit in many tops because everyone here has narrow shoulders and really small chests, whereas I don’t. But the pants are all long enough, and I found a nice tunic. We have to wear a chulidar  (tunic and pants with a headscarf) to the temples, and our heads have to be covered in those. Whenever you buy pants or a chulidar outfit they give you a matching headscarf, so I have two now. The clothes here are so diverse for the women, it’s hard not to stare at the women because they’re all so beautifully dressed and I always want their outfits! Hahaha. Even the poor women typically look really nice in their clothes — appearance/nice clothes are really important to them here. If they have nice clothes but they’re badly wrinkled, etc they’d almost rather not even go outside.
We went down one street today that had more beggars than usual, but there were only like 4 or 5. Usually they have children, too, and they follow you for a bit because they assume all americans are very rich, but unfortunately we just have to walk by. I want to help, but I can’t really do much for them and hopefully they’ll find luck elsewhere. It’s hard seeing the really poor children, though, because you know they’re likely to be poor all their lives. It’s more common up north to see people begging in commercial areas. Here there are some slums nearby and I’m sure those are more devastating than anything I’ve seen yet, but there’s much less poverty here in Bangalore, whereas up north there are more people, less space, less education etc…
There have been a few womens shelters though that we’ve walked by, and a YWCA with free counseling and I think cheap housing for working women, which is really nice. This city is pretty progressive for India, and they have a school for “spastics” as they call them here that I think we’re gonna tour because it’s a pretty big deal here to educate them instead of forcing them to be destitute. We met one man yesterday who is getting his PhD who has a developmental disability and was so lovely, and he goes to that school so we will see him again. He was so happy to see us :) We’re required to do several hours of community service/volunteering here at a non-governmental institution, so I might look into helping at the womens shelter. I’m not sure yet.
Everyone here is so friendly at the university, and they smile a lot when they talk and are typically very pleasant. They also bobble their heads a lot which is so lovely. It’s a side to side motion that is SO adorable and endearing, and they say it when they agree with you or as “ok” or just when they’re talking and want to make a point.
Almost everyone here speaks English, unless they’re very poor, because there are over 20 languages in the whole of India (here it’s kannada) and not everyone speaks Hindi (it’s more common in the north) but people are from so many places that their only common language is English. I’m pretty sure almost all classes here are taught exclusively in English, because we’re allowed to sit in on psychology classes etc, which I think I will do.
Everyone in the program is so happy to be here and has a real passion for India. We all wanted to come here to be outside of our comfort zone, and we all have different things we loved about India that we came for. Our apartment is nice sized, and we have a nice living room (with a fridge in it haha) and a water purifier so we don’t have to boil all our water. We have a bathroom in our room and the shower is just a shower head like a foot away from the toilet…the entire bathroom is essentially the shower, and then you get the whole room wet when you bathe haha. It’s actually really nice. I’ve taken basically cold showers every time so far because it gets so muggy. I think typically people here fill up a big bucket and then scoop water onto themselves, so I did that today because our drain was a little clogged and I wanted to try it. I actually think I might bathe that way a lot here — it was really easy and nicer than using a ton of water to shower.
We live in a “suburb” of Bangalore, Koramangala, and even though it’s outside of the main city of Bangalore it seems so huge. We walk about 45 minutes to the university, but there are lots of places to eat and shop nearby which is nice. I haven’t taken an auto-rickshaw yet but I will soon. That will be a whole new adventure!
I still have to get used to how many people stare at us when we walk around. They just love to look at us…we’re “exotic” which is something I’d never experienced before. I was surprised, though, because people set up stands on the side of the road to sell fruit or shoes, but they never shout out at you to buy their goods. They just sit patiently and wait for you to come to them, which is really nice and less overwhelming.
The cars honk ALL the time, mostly just to let you/other cars know they’re there. People ride lots of motorcycles here and weave in and out of traffic, so sometimes they zoom up on you out of nowhere while you’re walking. But strangely I never feel afraid here. They truly live without fear, and I think I’ve accidentally adopted that. Caution, yes. Fear, no. You just walk out in front of traffic when you need to cross the street, and the cars/busses etc slow down but normally don’t stop. You just have to keep walking at a steady pace — don’t run — and you’re fine. It’s always a minor triumph every time we successfully cross the street, and we’ve gotten really good at it, even on big 4-6 lane streets.
Don’t worry Mom, we’re all ok :) It’s very normal here.
I haven’t gotten sick yet — I’m expecting to, as are we all, but so far it’s been ok. They eat heavy meals in the morning, lighter lunch, light dinner. It’s strange to eat spicy food in the morning, but also really delicious. I had a butter masala dosa (kinda like a rice pancake with mushed potato, onions and spices that you dip in a sauce) this morning. I ate it all with my right hand and was so proud of myself :) I also had fresh mango juice (more like a puree) that was so amazing I thought I might cry. Mangoes are in season for one more week — once the monsoon season starts they all rot and don’t make it to market. I plan to stock up soon because MANGOES ARE MY EVERYTHING.
All my love from India! xo

India


So uh…in case you guys were wondering…

I’M GOING TO INDIA.

This summer. Study abroad. INDIAAAAAAAA. Whatevs.

I found out today while I was studying for an exam (I may have been so heavily caffeinated that upon receiving the email I had an excitement- and caffeine-induced seizure in the library) and was immediately distracted, so I walked home to shake off some of the jitters. After studying a bit more at my apartment, I made the mistake of taking a study break and looking at some of the documents I was given about traveling abroad/housing info/class registration/plane tickets/visa info/don’t get malaria/this is gonna be a huge culture shock and…

Now I’m super overwhelmed. Super super excited, but also super overwhelmed. I have to constantly remind myself (seriously, every three seconds) that I have time to deal with all the paperwork and that I should just allow myself to be happy I got into the program and now it’s time to study for my test.

YOU GUYS. I’M GOING TO INDIA. I. AM. SO. HAPPY.

This must be what doing cocaine feels like. Except…not? I don’t know, my test tomorrow is for my drugs and alcohol class, so maybe if I was studying I’d know what the effects of cocaine are. Oops.

I’ve gone insane. The caffeine hasn’t worn off yet. To prevent myself from further embarassment, I’ll just stop here, but I’ll leave you with this lovely gem:

There’s an SNL episode in which Zac Effron explains the differences between attending a musical high school and actual college. He talks about a song he made up called “nervous but excited” and that song needs to be written (probably by me) because it’s exactly how I feel about India. Nervous, but excited.

So yeah, click here for the clip of that…

Love you all! Wheeeee!

I Got Married at a Party


With this ring, I thee...see ya.

With this ring, I thee…see ya.

Once, I was married for about three seconds. Well, okay, that’s a lie, but it felt that way.

I should start by saying that I don’t really go to parties, because:

1. Drinking is illegal for me, as I’m only 19 and in the U.S. you have to be 21. Which I personally think is a mistake, since everyone in college wants to drink and will find a way to do it whether it’s legal or not, but that’s beside the point.

2. Most parties in college consist of a lot of alcohol consumed by a lot of people.

3. See number 1.

So I don’t tend to go out to parties much, but about two months ago I did, (and didn’t drink, Mom!) and was having a lovely time dancing on my own (because boys are afraid of my sick moves) when my friend noticed a guy standing behind me, staring at me. She thought this meant that he wanted to dance, but I personally thought it was because he was out of his mind on a whole lot of illegal substances which could potentially have put him in the hospital. But at this point, he was at least semi-responsive and looking at me, and somehow managed to ask me if I’d like to dance. I said yes, mainly because I am an awkward monkey and don’t know how to talk to someone whose blood is half alcohol and half weed.

We had been dancing for about 3 seconds when he rubbed my butt. With his hand. In a very…rubby…way. And then he removed his hand from my trouser area (thank goodness) and held my hand. Really strongly, in an “I am now dating you” sort of way. I know this sounds so ridiculous, but I think it was one of the nicest hand-holding experiences I’ve had, creepy guy/butt rub aside. And then he looked deep into my eyes, and might’ve continued to my soul had he not been so wasted that his gaze shifted to my ear.

The point is, I got a butt rub, hand hold, and soul-searching gaze all in about 10 seconds before he walked away, at which point I busted out laughing for about a year. Because really, I could’ve been creeped out or offended, but this sort of thing would only happen to me. My friends? Would’ve danced with a normal fellow and had nice conversation. Me? Butt rub hand hold all the way.

Oh, and did I mention that I sat about 10 feet away from him in my class two days later? Yeah. I see him all the time. Best part? He doesn’t remember. But I do. I remember. And he is my husband. My creepy, slightly rapey husband.

Wink.

We’re All Dying


finalsI have found the depths of the library. It’s kinda dark over here, I can’t lie. But it’s the only way to escape my aftermath-of-atomic-bomb disaster of a dorm room and get some studying done. Not that I’ve gotten any done yet…Oops. Sorry, college, WordPress calls.

It is that infamous week of the dead that comes just before finals week. And finals week comes right before the stress-induced coma that comes right before a food-induced coma that comes at the holidays. If that makes sense. Sorry, my brain fell out yesterday.

As my epic gal pal Chloe so wonderfully put it, “I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same as I do before finals. If it continued into my adult life, it could cause alcoholism, and that’s some dangerous territory.” Or at least I think she said that. I was overdosing on Ancient History at the time.

For those of you who don’t know, Dead Week is the week before Finals when students are supposed to study, prepare, etc for their final exams. At some universities, all classes are cancelled so that students don’t die of stress, while at other universities professors are prohibited from giving tests or assignments that week.

At my university, Dead Week isn’t very dead. I’ve already taken two tests this week, and I still have 5 finals next week (paper due Sunday night, and two exams each Monday and Tuesday). I want to write a strongly worded letter to someone in the administration and tell them that everyone I know is crumpling into a helpless heap because of this workload.

I have “stocked up” on my traditional 1 can of diet Pepsi that will get me through finals week (any more than a few sips a day and I’ll turn into a jittering mess) and am attempting to catch up on sleep this week, so hopefully I’ll pass everything and you won’t see me begging on the street selling “pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue” before Christmas.

I think we all know I’d be a rubbish homeless person. Besides, the only thing I really could offer in return for $$$ would be to psychoanalyze you or do your makeup, and I while I can do a mean cat eye in 30 seconds, I feel like there’s a low demand for that on the streets. Ain’t nobody got time for that.