Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't fight against the current

In a country where the traffic laws are relaxed and arriving 30 minutes late is generally acceptable, it is advisable to go with the flow. On Monday afternoon around 3:00 I had a conference with a MCC professor. At the conference he talked to me and the other three international students about our field placements, as well as signed a few forms. Around 3:30 he casually invited us on a field trip to Mahabalipuram Beach which is an hour and a half away from school. The bus left the school at 3:50.

In the U.S. context, this situation rarely happens. Going on this trip back home would have meant knowing about it for weeks and singing a ridiculous amount of consent forms. But I’m in India and none of this happened. Instead at 3:50, the other international students and I joined the first year MSW (master of social work) students on a trip to Mahabalipuram Beach, despite there being no additional room on the bus. When I got to the beach I was pleasantly surprised. Mahabalipuram is an oasis with beautiful palm trees and a coast line that stretches for miles. At the beach I put my feet in the water, collected sea shells, and took pictures like a tourist.

Around 6:00 the MCC students and I met with a group of high school Swedish students to talk about cultural differences between India, Sweden, and the U.S. We broke into about eight small groups with five people in each group. There, each person wrote down two questions that would help them to better understand the other person’s country. When all the questions were written down, they were placed in an envelope and traded to another group to ensure anonymity. Question topics included marriage and dating practices, politics, and musical interests. The first question I answered was whether or not it is okay to spank a child. I learned so much about Sweden and India. After the group discussion, I ate a fancy dinner and watched the MCC students perform a department dance.

The trip was unexpected, but I had so much fun and learned a lot. Going with the flow is the way to go.

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