Do you like India?’ and ‘Do you enjoy your time there?’ are questions that are easy to respond with just a single word: Yes!
Instead of that, ‘Do you feel homesick?’ or ‘How does it feel to live abroad?’ are questions that are pretty hard to answer.
India has a great influence on the way I feel. Most of the times I have a great feeling, I love traveling, meeting new interesting persons and seeing something new wherever I go.
But there are also times when I don’t feel that well. It is not just that it is sometimes hard to face challenges, but it is the way I feel when I walk through streets. There are people who seem familiar to me, people who are smiling at me, but for sure there is always something new to discover. On days I am not feeling comfortable in my skin, I cannot ignore the feeling that people are staring at me and judging me. Even if I am sure that they are not mean and that this is not meant to be discriminating, it feels like that sometimes.
I am aware of the fact that I don’t always feel great if I am in the city where I’ve grown up either, but people there seem to accept me as I am, are used to seeing faces like mine and are just bored of judging. Even if I have days where I feel honoured to be such an attraction, it makes me kind of sad that I will always be a foreigner and a stranger to most of the people here. That’s human nature.
Dealing with problems might be a greater challenge here than it would be at home. Asking myself if I have the right to complain while I am surrounded by people who are suffering from ‘real’ problems, can feel depressing and frustrating. If it comes to small problems here, they often seem hard to be solved and the reason for this is that I don’t have my family, my friends and my social background behind me.
I learned to face challenges on my own and even if I talk to other volunteers or my FSL-India coordinator and feel to be understood by them, it is and always will be a great personal challenge to accept behaviors, to adapt to situations and conditions and still to feel relaxed. I’ve also learned to be thankful, to appreciate things that seemed natural to me.
Knowing that I have a home here, too and that I enjoy the time when I am teaching in school (Niveditha High School, Basrur) and traveling on weekends and holidays gives me motivation. Furthermore, I am surrounded by people I like. My family and project partner Pia, my host family, neighbors, other volunteers, people we met during travel time, people smiling at me while I walk through streets and so many more. It is the openness and kindness of people what feels best.
All in all, I like to conclude that India is great, the mentality of Indians is enviable and India is the perfect place to find myself.