I’ve kind of been putting off this last blog post, partly because I’m lazy, partly because I really don’t know what I can say, and partly because I’m not quite ready to accept that it’s over.
To try to sum up my experience, what I’ve learned, or how I’ve changed in one blog entry will be pointless. I can hardly think of words beyond “great” to describe my experience when people around town ask me how India was, and nothing beyond “weird” when I’m asked how it is to be home. The best I can do is try and come up short.
Looking back on the semester, I find that I spent a lot of time asking questions, both about India and about the way I was experiencing and interacting with India. The funny thing is, now that I’m back, I feel like I have fewer answers than I left with. Maybe this is why I have so much trouble explaining my time there to people here — I can’t say for certain what it was.
The thing about immersing yourself in a different culture is that, after the initial culture shock, you don’t notice yourself adapting to it, changing to fit it, or going with it. It is because of this, I think, that I have trouble pinpointing things — the ways India surprised me, the ways I changed, and the things I have learned. There was no point when I suddenly got it, just as there was no point when I was suddenly changed by my experience. If I look at things objectively, I can see the differences — the food, the climate, the language, the modes of transportation, the sense of humor, the pollution, the poverty — these are the ascertainable things that differentiate New Delhi from Vermont, and yet there is somehow more than these. If I look at myself, I can see the changes — longer hair, less fear, a new tattoo — but I don’t know how I got here from there. These don’t explain why , after a year and a half that was some kind of something, I feel like I’ve finally come out on the other side. The questions don’t bother me, but they do make me want to keep moving.
I can’t pick a perfect moment from my semester, and I won’t detail a thousand better ones here. The best I can do is leave things off in this very unsatisfactory, unfinished manner, and I think that’s how it should be. I’m not done with India, so I don’t have to tie up the ends just yet. For now, I am immeasurably thankful for this experience.