Zeyn Janif, Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
Short-term program: Reimagining India Experiential Learning Program
India (December 2018)
I had the privilege to join 50 other students from universities all over Australia on a short-term study program in India, which was funded by the New Colombo Plan, an Australian initiative encouraging students to study abroad in the Indo-Pacific regions. I was excited to travel to India not only because I had never been there before, but also because it was a country full of mystery to me.
The amazing people of Indogenius provided an intense itinerary designed for us to engage with India’s past, present and future. Some of the main subjects we were introduced to were the culture, history, technology, economy, innovation, and a whole many more to list. We visited various religious sites, including one of my highlights of the trip, a visit to a Sikh temple. I felt a real sense of piety as I immersed myself into the rich culture, and what struck me was just how significant it was in their everyday lives, something we rarely see in western society. I even had the chance to attend a traditional Hindu wedding where I saw the continuity of a strong culture and religion focus as I congratulated the bride and groom.
My highlights as a student included visits to the various businesses, including the multinational corporation, Infosys, the Indian version of MIT, IIT Bombay, a visit to Jaipur Foot; a non-profit organization providing free prosthetic limbs to millions, an elementary school catering for children from poor family backgrounds, and a visit to one of the largest slums in Asia. These experiences deepened my appreciation for life and encouraged me to have a greater focus on the wellbeing of others and myself. There was so much that was covered on the trip, that it managed to have some relevance to the diverse study backgrounds among the 50 of us. We travelled to 4 major cities in India; New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai, and there was really not much time to relax. The days started off quiet early and went long into the night, I recommend bringing bulk Berocca tablets or consider drinking coffee if you don’t already. We were lucky enough to stay at comfortable 4 star hotels, which included an abundance of food buffets encouraging us to indulge into the Indian cuisines. A friendly FYI, I highly recommend you build your spicy food tolerance before going, as some of the food can be unforgiving. Among the many flavorsome dishes, my savior was actually the masala chai! One of the things that made this trip really enjoyable was experiencing India with all of the amazing people I met.
From the Indogenius members, to the students, we all seemed to get along right from the get go, and by the end we had all formed new friendships and remain in contact with each other to this day. We had some really entertaining moments, from our Bollywood dancing and games nights, to the hamstring pulling yoga sessions. Despite it being a short 2 weeks, I had found growth both personally and professionally, and had learnt more than I ever would have in a classroom. If you’re thinking of taking the big step in overseas study, just remember to soak it all in and enjoy every moment, because it will be gone before you know it.