Monday, September 7, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Vannakum (Hello in Tamil),

I have finally gotten around to setting up this blog now that I have been in India for over three weeks! But as I say in the title of this post, better late than never. Hopefully, I will be able to update frequently and keep everyone informed about my journey, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, over the next nine months.

As I'm sure that many of you who will read this know, I will be spending nine months in India on a Fulbright Scholarship. The goal of the Fulbright is to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. And they go about doing this by sending American students and Professors all over the world to conduct research, to teach, and to experience the lifestyles and cultures of places near and far. The purpose of my nine months in India has several facets, but there are three that I hope to concentrate on. The first is the reason why I received this conduct research on tuberculosis at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. CMC is one of the premiere hospitals and medical schools in all of India and I am privileged to work and live here. Interacting with the physicians and students here and experiencing first-hand how a non-American medical system functions is going to be an incredible experience.

Secondly, I want to truly experience the Indian way of life. My hope is that I will be able to break away from my comfort zone and enmesh myself in Indian culture. I know that I will never be able to completely fit in, as I am separated by barriers of appearance and language and background, but I don't want to be a stereotypical tourist either. I think that I will gain the most benefit from simply living here, without restrictions and without judgement. Although I have already found this a challenging task in many ways, in three short weeks I have already reaped the benefits of this policy as well. And I still have a long way to go before I am able to be completely accepting and to fully let go of my fears and doubts.

Finally, I hope to travel... And I have already leapt into working on this goal! Vellore is an incredible city to be in because it is truly Indian. Apart from a few other international students at CMC, there are no foreigners in Vellore. It is not a commonly traveled stop for tourists (it isn't even listed in the Rough Guide to India) and so life here is still very Indian. For example, there is not even one Western restaurant to be least not one that I've spotted. I suppose there could be some hiding somewhere. I'll have to keep exploring. But because Vellore is so small, it also presents only one small piece of the whole huge, complex, and intricate puzzle that is India. Over the course of the next nine months, I want to push myself to visit and witness as many pieces of India as I possibly can.

Since I am so late in getting this blog set up, I have three weeks of information to share with all of you! Over the next few days, I am going to post some emails and journal entries detailing my experiences thus far and try to get caught up. I'll also try to put up a post with more details about CMC, Vellore, my research, what daily life in Vellore is like, and some of the every day things about Indian life that have really struck a chord with me.

This is the furthest away that I have ever been from my family and it is the biggest adventure that I have ever undertaken. I am often filled with fear of the unknown and sometimes think about how easy it would be to just give in and come home to where I know that I am safe and loved and where I fit in. I don't think I thought about what it would be like to live in a place where when you walk down the street everyone knows that you don't truly belong. It is something of a hard transition, but despite that I am already falling in love with India. But as I make this transition, I would love to hear from all of my friends and family back home! Keep me updated about your lives and adventures as I tell you all about mine! You are all always in my thoughts...

I think I'll end this first post with a quote that I wear around my wrist and that came from the man recognized by most as the founder of India, Mahatma Gandhi:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

With this journey I am trying to be and do, rather than simply watch. I hope that in some small way I can live up to these famous words.


  1. Yes, I agree...this will be the adventure of a lifetime, for you there and for us, as followers here. I'm excited to join you on your journey Sarah. Love you.

  2. you've missed the real question though . . . have you met any attractive men yet?