Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Journey, Orientations, and Meeting our Host Families

On our way to Chennai, India it was me, Cee, Tenaya, Zoe, Anastacia, and Zoe all together for 30 hours of uncomfortable and tortuously long flights. I have to say that I am so glad that we had each other for support on the way there!! :) The planes were pretty uncomfortable but luckily I had my pillow (Cee haha:) ) When we finally arrived in India we were all taken to a hotel and the next morning we were given a orientation on Indian culture and host families. That....was not so fun considering I had just spent 3 days in Washington doing orientations.It wasn't so bad though. We did some icebreakers and I met the other students who would be living in Chennai and I found another girl named Nat from Thailand who would be going to school with Zoe and I. I also met two Italians Allessandra and Eduardo and the two Austrians Teresa and Alexandra who we had met back in Frankfurt who were on the same flight as us YES abroaders to Chennai. The second we met we all had a immediate connection and it was a big comfort to know I wasn't the only one with doubts or feelings sadness for being away from family and friends.
                                                               Meeting the Family
 After the orientation, we waited for our host families to pick us up from the hotel. My family came in smiling and happy and they immediate hugged me :) it was so exciting to finally meet them at last! In orientations they told us not to expect hugs and kisses from our families but it seems like this time AFS was wrong!!:) My family was very warm and my sister Priya immediately grabbed my hand as we walked out of the hotel. It was nightime when they picked me up so I didn't get much of a glimpse of Chennai. On the car ride home Priya, Monica and I talked and talked about India and America and my flight and our own families. When we arrived at the apartment, before I entered, they did a welcoming Puja (prayer) for me where they burnt camphor ( some type of flammable phosphourous substance)and put it in a bowl and waved it in circles in front of me and behind me and then placed a flower garland around my neck. After we ate and let me tell you it is very hard to eat with your hand!! I got food all over myself and for those of you interested in a exchange in India practice eating with your hands beforehand otherwise you will feel embarrassed getting food everywhere. My family was very helpful though and taught me some techniques on eating with your hand. I was exhausted after all the flights and right after dinner I went to bed and passed out the second I hit the pillow.

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