Tag Archives: india

Namaste, India!

India Blog Post

India was a place I have only dreamt of visiting, yet here I was on my way to this colorful, diverse country. I was ecstatic, to say the least.

Our ship arrived in the port of Cochin, India located in the state of Kerala. I woke up that morning, opened my port-hole to see a few local authorities standing outside. They noticed me peeking out and waved with laughter. Great start, can’t wait to step off the ship!

Finally I was able to disembark and I and one other friend headed out into Cochin without much plan or idea of what we’d do – just eagerness to get off the ship. It actually went pretty well! We managed to push through the dozens of taxi drivers begging us to use their service, and got a ticket to ride the ferry to the other side of Kerala. Once we got there, we realized with the bustling streets that it would not be the safest to walk along the area (nor would it be the most productive, considering both my friend and I had a 5 day trip planned with a tour group and we had to be back for pickup in the evening.) A local pulled us aside and said “100 rupees for tuktuk tour! Interested?” Now, a tuktuk is this sketchy, tiny, open-air vehicle that locals and tourists take as taxis. We heard about these tuktuk tours before, and actually this was the cheapest offer we had heard. Not only did it seem convenient, but also fun. So, we took this guy up on his offer and he took us on a short tour of the area.
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We stopped by museums, old churches, shops, and even the beach. The beach was particularly fun – there were goats and dogs everywhere, as well as locals playing Cricket. He also showed us the local life, and we had a stop at a laundry place, where locals washed all their clothes by hand. We ended the tour with a stop at a place to grab lunch – The Dosa House. I never had a dosa before, they are kind like spicy, flavorful pancakes with assorted chuttneys on the side. (pardon any misspelling)

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When we got back to the ship, I packed my bags and was ready to rock n’ roll to my text India adventure. I had a 5 day, 4 night trip planned with a tour group organized by one of the other Semester at Sea students. Our first flight would take us to Hyderabad, India.

We got to the airport that night, boarded our flight and eventually arrived at out hotel in Hyderabad. The guy who organized this tour for us was actually Indian himself, and his grandma (who lives in Hyderabad) came along with us and met us at the airport. She greeted us with bottled of waters and smosas – quite possibly the sweetest woman alive. We also had a meal ready for us when we got to the hotel, which was Biryani, a spicy indian rice-based dish served with yogurt and breads. It was delicious, but quite frankly I thought I was going to die by how terribly spicy it was….it was…the good kind of pain though. Yummy..satisfying…but painful.

The following morning we stopped at various museums, but what really highlighted the day was a visit to a local all-girls college that was actually run by the grandmother I mentioned before. This was absolutely amazing. The girls all excitedly greeted us with hugs, served us snacks, and we spoke to them about college life in the US and our experiences in India. Turns out, we made the Hyderabad newspaper!

That evening was something absolutely mind blowing. We had the opportunity to see Hyderabad’s famous night-time laser show! Lasers reflected off of water and presented beautiful images and told a beautiful story of India. Bollywood music played in the background, locals all danced together. The laser show, which was conveniently in English, spoke of how India came to be with it plethora of religions. At the end, it brought Islam, Christianity and Hinduism together as one in complete harmony. Seriously, I pay for a plane ticket back to India just to see that laser show again.

In the next few days we got to visit Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal in Agra/New Delhi. Both of these places were surreal. I could not believe I was actually there, and I did my best to absorb every second of its outstanding beauty.

The Taj Mahal, as many of you may know, is one of the world’s greatest wonders. Built in around 1632, it was created by Mughal Muslim emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved and dearly departed wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Inside rests her tomb.

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We also saw quite a lot of monkeys running around…
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On the final day we took a trip to down town Delhi for a visit to the Jama Masjid Mosque. When we arrived the mosque-keepers (for lack of a better word?) covered the women in scarves and clothing, and we removed our shoes and were able to enter the mosque. Somehow I wondered away from the group and found myself floating about. The inner mosque was filled with tourists, however as I got to the back of the mosque there was a second exit. The back was higher up on a platform, and presented an absolutely beautiful view of Delhi. Only locals sat in this area, praying, listening to music. I instantly felt out of place, and all eyes were suddenly on me. Family’s found me amusing and asked me to take photos with their children. It was embarrassing, but part of the cultural fun travel brings.

At the end of this day our tour operator surprised us by taking us to a place where we could celebrate India’s holiday known as “holi”. It was a little early, but it was just for fun. The tradition is throwing colorful dust on everyone around you and screaming “HAPPY HOLI!” It’s supposed to be a lot of fun, and it brings friends and family together during this time. It WAS a lot of fun, although getting that stuff out of my clothes, hair and skin proved to be a challenge

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And so ended our tour and we were transferred back to the ship.

On my final day in India I spent it at a local boy’s orphanage. The boys at the orphanage were all once street-children, working and begging for any penny possible before picked up by the orphanage. The kids all danced and preformed for us, we played games such as soccer or basketball, and finally had a traditional Kerala meal served to us on banana leaves (probably the most delicious thing I ate on the trip!)

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12 countries in 112 days: My semester at sea

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The MV explorer; my new home for the next 4 months!

 

Spring 2014 Semester at Sea blog!

Hey guys! Have not heard from anyone in a while, but of course this is because I have not posted in a while. I’ve been home, in Michigan, doing my usual university-work lineup. Nothing special, but as some of you may already knew, in one month I leave for a Semester at Sea!! My amazing experiences in South Korea and Morocco were simply not enough for this crazy girl. I am excited to blog about this amazing opportunity here on my little wordpress! Spread the word because honestly I want people to hear about this opportunity and be pushed to it as well in life!

Wait, what? Hold on a second Danni. What in the world is a Semester at Sea?
Well, put simply and quoting from the Semester at Sea homepage:
Semester at Sea is a multiple country study abroad program open to students of all majors emphasizing comparative academic examination, hands-on field experiences, and meaningful engagement in the global community. A wide variety of coursework from 20-25 disciplines is integrated with relevant field studies in up to a dozen countries, allowing for a comparative study abroad experience that is truly global. The University of Virginia is the program’s academic sponsor. Students from 250-300 colleges in the United States and the world participate on Semester at Sea each term. Credit earned is transferable to a student’s home institution.”

Let me get this straight: you’re going to be living on a ship?

You guessed it! I live on a ship in double occupancy cabins! There are classrooms, pool areas, salons, food courts, ball rooms, a library, book store, snack booth – you name it and it’s there, everything I need to thrive while at sea! Naturally in ports (and we are in ports an average of 5 days) I will be traveling around and staying in hotels and such. And host families! So far I have plans to stay with host families in multiple countries in order to get the full cultural experience!

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Picture of one of the cabins on board

And where exactly are you going?
(Briefly Mexico) Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco(Yay! Back to Morocco!!) and London! Possibly more depending on my budget (Might hit a few countries when I debark in London, but that’s actually unlikely)

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How can you afford this!?
Well, I can’t. If it was not for scholarships and a work-study I earned for Semester at Sea I would not be going. I received a merit scholarship, need based scholarship and was hired for a competitive work-study. I am awaiting on one more scholarship that is worth 10,000 through an honors society, but it is unlikely I will receive it. (Only one was available. And a girl mentioned to me since she is involved professionally with the program she will pull some strings, so I just applied for a good shot!) I am also taking out loans and emptying out my savings. Unless I get that last scholarship, I will be eating ramen noodles for a year after I return. Worth it.

Read more on my Semester at Sea on my wordpress at the tag https://elusiveambitions.wordpress.com/category/semester-at-sea-2/

If you guys have any more questions feel free to ask! I will be posting more about it as time gets closer! I also have a tumblr dedicated to Semester at Sea so feel free to follow me at
http://seathroughneweyes.tumblr.com