My Trinh reflects on her summer in Hong Kong participating on the Summer Global Internship Program and how that program allowed her the opportunity to speak in front of Dean Makhija and 20 Alumni Buckeyes living in Hong Kong.
Going to a school with an alumni network of more than half a million strong, I knew that no matter how far I traveled, there will always be a Buckeye there with me. This fact was reaffirmed when I got to speak in front of a group of more than 20 Buckeyes in Hong Kong.
This summer, I traveled to Hong Kong as part of the Fisher Summer Global Internship Program. Not only has this program acted as a catalyst to kick start my professional career, but it has also acted as the highlight of my college experience. When you first come to college, you always hear people encouraging you to go abroad, no matter what the experience is for. When I first entered college, I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to fulfill the advice of those people. But luckily, through the generosity of the Buckeye community, I got to experience this once in a life time opportunity.
Throughout my time here in Hong Kong, I’ve experience many first, from climbing a mountain in a thunderstorm, to swimming next to oxen on the beach, to squid fishing, to being stuck in typhoon. But none of these experiences, to me, were as freighting or rewarding as the opportunity to speak in front of the Dean of Fisher College of Business. When I first heard that I was selected to prepare a speech for Dean Makhija, all my peers and the OSU alumni network in Hong Kong, I felt a wave of nervousness and fear wash over me. What would I say to these people? Were any of my experiences here really that exciting for them to hear about? But, all these emotions were eased and the questioned answered as soon as I started speaking.
I remember looking around the room and seeing nothing but encouraging smiles and nods from those around me. From every lame joke I made, to every fact I listed, the crowd that surrounded me never failed to laugh or show excitement for what I had to say to them. I realized at that moment that the Buckeye community that I am apart of is one that is always going to be supportive, caring and responsive to whatever I do.
These individuals that I spoke in front of wanted nothing but to give back to me and to help me achieve whatever goals I aspired for. The best thing about my speech, was not delivering it to the crowd, but the conversations after that came from it. Each individual that I spoke with would offer me business cards and information about their company after I expressed interest in them. They all showed genuine curiosity about my experiences and all wanted to know more about how they could help create more life changing experiences for me. These individuals to me define what it means to be a Buckeye.
Being a Buckeye means that you will always have people that will give you support when you need it, help you up when you’re down, ease your fears when you have them and encourage you every step of the way. But, most importantly, being a Buckeye means that no matter where you are in the world, so long as you yell “OH”, you will get back an “IO”.
Michael Bougie, discusses his experience travelling to Madrid, Spain through the Fisher College of Business Global Internship Program.
The last time I left the United States was when I was twelve years old, and back then, I did not appreciate my voyage abroad as much as I could now, so I took every opportunity to see the sites this summer. My eight weeks in Madrid flew by, and I can credit the friends I made, the places I went, and the opportunities I had for this fast-paced, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. When describing my travels there’s only one phrase that comes to mind, “things to do; places to go; people to see,” and that is exactly how I’m going to break down my summer in Europe.
Things to do: On the top of my agenda in Madrid was my internship with Ericcson—a company at the forefront of communications technology that leads the ICT industry. I worked every day on projects regarding the future use of 5G applications. Here I am pictured with my boss. He was one of the reasons I loved my internship as much as I did, and he said he would write me a letter of recommendation at any time. If it wasn’t for this program I would’ve never met him!
Places to go: Because it had been so long since I had been out of the country I took advantage of the cheap European flights and trains and explored more than just Madrid during my time. I ended up going to Dublin, Ireland, Budapest, Hungary, Lisbon, Portugal, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Ibiza, Spain on different weekends. I love that Europe is filled with many different cultures and types of people all so close to each other. I saw so many beautiful places while I was there, but if I had to pick a favorite it would’ve been Dublin, Ireland. We got to Dublin on a Friday morning, and we spent the entire weekend site-seeing. My advice to anyone looking into this program would be to take advantage of the time you’re there—go see the world beyond your internship location and really dive into all of the different European cultures.
People to see: I went into this trip knowing only a few people on it, but I ended it with friends I know I will have a bond with forever. I traveled the world with strangers who turned into close friends, and I loved every minute of it. I have every intention of keeping up with them, but I know that even if we do fall distant, we will always have fond memories of the adventures we shared together.
My experience traveling Europe through this program was unforgettable, and I would recommend this opportunity to everyone. I will always look back fondly on the things I did, the places I went, and the people I saw. It’s been real Madrid…
Hari Adhikari discusses the factors that made participating in the Summer Global Internship Program in London the best decision he ever made in his life.
I was a little skeptic when I applied for the Summer Global Internship Program (SGIP) through Fisher College of Business at the start of the spring (2017) semester. One part of me said, I should really expound on this opportunity but another part of me wasn’t ready to live in a foreign country for 2 months. As I type this blog, I only have a week and half before this remarkable London internship ends. My decision to accept an internship in London this summer has easily been the best decision I have ever made in my life. Here’s why:
1. Professional Development: London is a global hub for businesses and companies. Some of the world’s largest companies and businesses are headquartered in England and operate through here, making it an exciting place to work and develop yourself. It is one thing to learn about business concepts/ideas in academia but it is completely another thing to apply those theoretical ideas in real life.
At my company, I have had the exposure that I needed to enhance my problem solving and analytical skills. Working and analyzing large business database, preparing slide deck for an important meeting with a client, writing out business propositions, and developing end-to-end product portfolios include some of the important business skills that I have had the pleasure of acquiring through my work this summer. I have also become better when it comes to time management, business communication, team work etc. Besides the obvious benefits that comes with an internship, an international internship such as this will set you apart from your colleagues in the ever competitive job market. During my time here, I have also been able to expand the list of my professional networks.
2. Personal Development: Not only has this internship help me grow professionally, it has also propelled my personal growth. Living in a foreign country by yourself away from your family and friends impacts you in many ways than you think. It effectively makes you a new person. Since the day I landed in London, I have had to do things that I would have never done if I had decided to stay in Columbus. I have learned how to be self-sufficient. Whether it is grocery shopping or figuring out how to get navigate the underground train system (tube) or preparing my own meals, I have broken out of the dependent shell which I was so accustomed to living under around my family members.
3. Broaden Cultural Experience: One of the best things about this internship has been the fact that it has allowed me to develop a greater awareness of the world, and our place in it. This experience has helped me essentially escape the American bubble. America and England share same language, but don’t be fooled by that. There is a substantial difference between these countries. I have learned a great deal about the British culture and the British people in this past two months.
In addition to that, traveling to countries like Germany and Netherlands have fine-tuned my intercultural skills and awareness. Traveling and learning about new culture, people, and food also helps you become a global citizen. Often times, we are too carried away with what’s going on around us only. But when you actually push yourself out of your comfort zone and become open-minded, you will experience things that can help you moving forward. Add cultural competency to your outstanding experience, and you will set yourself apart from your peers.
4. London Attractions & Activities: London is one of the most historic cities in the world. That being said, there are numerous landmarks and attractions that you can visit while you are working here. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Tower of London, River Thames, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye etc. just to name few iconic London venues to visit. There are also ample of activities that you can do in London during your free time. Whether it is revisiting the history through the lenses of arts and/or antiques at the British Museum or it is playing 5 v 5 soccer at the famous Hyde park or attending a concert at the packed O2 arena or standing at the prime meridian line which separates the Eastern and Western hemisphere, London offers you so much to do.
Grace Schneider explains why she is grateful to have lived, worked, and traveled in Madrid Spain during the Summer Global Internship Program.
Who ever said work has to be boring? This past eight weeks I have lived, worked, and traveled in Spain and around across Europe while having the time of my life! Madrid, a city that I now consider a home, is described as, “a city of elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks.” But I came to realize it is much much more than that. It’s a city with embedded with centuries of exciting history, architecture characterized by symmetry and elaborate exterior, and we can’t forget it is home to football club giant Real Madrid. But even in this short blog post I can’t explain the love that has developed for the people and culture of Spain.
I worked in the Human Resources department for the company Aegon Seguros, a financial services company. Here I was welcomed with open arms by amazing co-workers that I can now call friends that quickly made me feel a part of the team.
In these eight weeks I helped create, collect, and organize employee variable compensation information. I also had a chance to take part in an EVP (employee value proposition) video for the company. In this video we promoted the company culture and environment in hopes of attracting a wider and more diverse selection of candidates and applicants for positions in the company. With many other projects, I learned to see all aspects of the HR department, but also the interconnectedness of all the departments. As a marketing major, I was thrilled to be involved with the EVP video and the opportunity to work with the marketing and communciations departments.
Overall, this experience allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I traveled to Valencia, Toledo, Barcelona (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Munich (Germany), Porto and Lisbon (Portugal), Rome and Florence (Italy), Dublin (Ireland), Dusseldorf (Germany), and ended my trip in Paris (France). I loved every second of this trip and I couldn’t be more grateful to have lived, worked, and traveled a little bit more of our awesome world.
Amanda Conaway, participated in the Summer Global Internship program in London, England where her nerves quickly disappeared throughout the excitement of being abroad. She shares her experiences traveling new countries, meeting new people, and creating endless memories that made for a summer she will never forget.
I still remember the day I sat in on the Ohio State admissions tour hearing about all the students who studied abroad and thinking how amazing that experience must be. Never did I think I would be one to pack up and leave to live in a country I knew little about. Fast forward, almost three years later, and here I am half way through my two month long internship in London, England and am already sad thinking about having to leave.
The days leading up to departing my hometown, Buffalo, NY, were filled with mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited to be able to experience life in another country but I was also nervous that I might get homesick being away from everything I was familiar with for that long. Deep down I knew if I could adapt to a new state for college, I could do another country but still I had my doubts.
What if I got lost? What if I missed out on everything that was going on at home? Would I miss my family? Would I miss America? These were all the questions going through my head leading up to this trip and let me say all of these questions where answered quickly once I arrived in London.
I remember boarding the plane and it was that moment where it hit me, I’m really doing this. Ten hours later I had arrived in London, the place that I would be calling “home” for the next two months. I remember this day so clearly. I remember walking an hour, going to four different grocery stores trying to find peanut butter, PEANUT BUTTER. There are no one- stop shops like Walmart or Target in a city like this and that was an adjustment in itself. To me, this was my first biggest “culture shock”. I remember getting on the Tube (underground railroad) that was going the wrong way and almost getting lost, walking on the right side of the sidewalk while everyone else was walking on the left, and trying to get food at 9pm but realizing every place closed before 8pm. To say this day was not filled with “tourist moments” would be an understatement. Looking back to those days it seems like just yesterday that I first got to London. I laugh to myself thinking about those first couple of days where I was a visitor in a place I was so unfamiliar with. But now I walk through the streets of London feeling like it’s my home away from home.
Those first days in London I learned so much, not only about the city but about myself. Those doubts and uncertainties went away the moment I stepped off that plane and the rush of excitement immediately came to me. I realized that this experience was a once in a life time experience and to just embrace each moment being here. For me, being in London this summer has been a pivotal moment in my life and I know I would not have had all these moments of realization had I not gone.
Traveling abroad you learn to appreciate where you came from but also learn to appreciate the differences that make up the world. There is so much to see in life and so many places to go that I think people sometimes get so comfortable in their life that they miss out on all these experiences.
For me, I don’t like going through life being “comfortable” I want to get out of my comfort zone because I know those are the moments you grow the most. I can one hundred percent confirm this statement. I learned how to be independent and how to adapt to a place that I was unfamiliar with. I learned to live in the moment and truly be happy with the life I currently live. There are so many moments where I just stop and think to myself “Wow I cannot believe I’m here right now”. Interning abroad for two months has made me grow more as a person than I have in two years of college. At the end of this trip I will have been to four new countries, six new cities, and have created endless memories.
If I could give any advice to people considering studying abroad, I would say this… keep an open mind from the moment you get there to the day you leave. You will enjoy your time there a lot more if you learn to let yourself adapt to the culture and accept the differences of that particular place. You WILL get lost but don’t let this scare you. We live in an era where technology can pretty much get you out of any situation and live around people who are willing to help. Getting lost and having to find your way around a city is all part of the learning process. The biggest piece of advice that I can give is: do as much as you can and try and meet as many people that you can.
For me, the people on this trip has made this experience one of the best parts. You will have people that are experiencing the same feelings you are at one point or another and people that came in with the same doubts as you did. Trust me, if you surround yourself with people those feelings of being homesick will immediately go away. Don’t let being afraid of missing out or people back home stop you from going abroad. I promise you WON’T miss out on anything. You will be experiencing so much more in a new country that you will be genuinely sad to have to leave. Being young is the perfect excuse to go abroad and I would encourage everyone to go if they can once in their life.
Jumping into a new country and culture on the Student Exchange Program, Talia Bhaiji shares her first experiences of struggles and inspiring interactions, starting her life in Thailand.
My name is Talia Bhaiji and I’m a rising junior at OSU studying Finance. I’m studying abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, and I’ve been here for about 2 full days now. Just a little background about me: I’m from Strongsville, OH, raised in a biracial Asian family, and have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot growing up. I knew I wanted to study abroad, and after being here for 2 days I know there is absolutely no way I’m regretting this decision.
For starters, I have to say I did a lot of preparation for this trip. Months of planning went into my packing list, things I was going to buy, and every little detail of the trip. I know it may seem tempting to not over plan and go with the flow, and I agree that is a natural part of traveling, but I made sure to have all large logistics down and that certainly fared me well when things did not go as planned. My flight over was very rough and I did not find the travel experience very pleasant. It took me a total of 28 hours to travel from Cleveland to Bangkok, and while it was cool to go through 4 time zones (East, Central, South Korean, and Bangkok time) it was definitely hard on my body. I had to carry quite a lot in my carry on as I ended my suitcase at 49.5 lbs before my flight. It was hard on my back and irritating to lug things around in so many airports, so I would definitely just suggest bringing very minimal and lightweight things. I honestly only ended up using my phone for music and then after that, I watched movies on the long flight (they were included), so I didn’t need all the things I brought. The flight over will be very rough as you’re changing time zones frequently and traveling 28 hours is really difficult. Make sure to book your flight in advance (3 months at least) and give yourself enough time for your connections. Also bring things to do and bring sleeping pills! You will thank yourself later when you can’t sleep on the flight (I can guarantee it).
My time in the airport was a bit difficult with the language barriers. I think the population of people who speak English in Thailand was a bit overstated, and I’ve found that probably about 10% of the people here speak it (at least that I’ve met). The positive is that it has really encouraged me to get immersed in the language and communicate in Thai rather than solely relying on English. I’ve just got my sim card and Google has been such a lifesaver for translating and maps as well. I also was able to transfer money, use my Charles Schwab accounts and my debit card, get acquainted in my room, and finally get on board with the time change, and registered for classes, so I finally feel as if I’m getting into a schedule, which is always a welcome feeling.
Side note: I cannot recommend using Charles Schwab enough when it comes to banking. They have no international fees, not ATM fees, and that is a huge deal. Thailand is a cash based country as is all of Asia, so you will be withdrawing money frequently and every single time you withdraw it is a $9 fee. Charles Schwab rebates all that money at the end of the month, so you’re getting a lot of money back. Also, you can take money out worldwide for free, meaning that if you forget to convert money before you go to Cambodia, you can get money out at any ATM in Cambodia and pay no fees for it as well. It has been a lifesaver and has made my friends here very jealous 🙂 I also end up booking a lot of things because my credit card is the only one accepted.
The people here are truly amazing. Not only are the Thai people absolute so sweet (The Land of Smiles!), but the exchange students are wholesome and wonderful and honestly some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I know it sounds weird that I’ve been here for 2 days and know these people well, but when you’re lost in a foreign country and you are stuck with people, you tend to bond very quickly. I also get the opportunity to ask them questions that I never would have thought about. I’ve been able to ask my German friends about WWII and how they’re taught history, and we talk about the French about the recent election, and they always ask us about the election in the US as well. Now’s the time that I get to speak to people involved in these issues and living in these countries, so the view from a local is really cool.
I already know in 5 months it’s going to break my heart to leave. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet people from Paris, London, Lithuania, Switzerland, Japan, Texas, California, Italy, Germany and they’re all so amazing. The commonality is that everyone is adventurous, chose to be here, and all worked hard to get to this point. There’s an excitement and a drive in everyone to make the most of their time. Something else to remember is that everyone went abroad to meet new people, so they’re genuinely interested in getting to know you. I think that’s so different in the states, especially at Ohio State because we do have so many people from the same geographic region, so it is a different experience. I find myself having amazing conversations about the logistics of the United States versus other countries. We talk about people’s daily lives, so what kind of transportation do they take to school, how do their universities work, what are OSU football games like (all the time!), what do they do after school, what are their families like, what are their classes like, etc. I know that college in Europe is a very different experience; it’s more of a means to an end than an exciting experience. In the US it’s viewed as a privilege and as the “best four years of your life” or as some kind of experience, but I think that may be because we pay for it versus other countries where it’s given as a right to many people. It’s really cool to see what people think of the US and the way that our countries interact. I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn about everyone’s cultures and what their homes are like.
I will be updating soon on how my time here is going. I already know it’s going to be amazing, and I cannot wait for all the upcoming adventures. I’d like to thank everyone for the financial and academic opportunities that got me here and I am so looking forward to all the adventures ahead!
A message from Anastasia Cook to future student who are considering a semester abroad on the Student Exchange Program: Go, Experience, Live! She shares her heart filling memories and the reasons why you should go abroad to Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Italy.
GO. If you are considering it, but not sure if you will feel home sick, if you will make friends, you won’t like the location, or whatever reason: YOU WILL BE FINE! Exchange was seriously the BEST 5 months of my entire life. I never wanted it to end. No, this is not because I choose a blow off course load, and just partied the whole time. I went to “the Harvard of Europe” AKA Bocconi, a program only available through Fisher. This was so much better than a regular program because it was useful classes, and the professors are world recognized lecturers whom have a deep passion for their subject.
I decided to take Corporate Finance, even though it is a known “difficult” class even for full time Bocconi Students. After about a week, I found myself reading the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times in my free time, not only because it helped me during our open discussions in class, but also because I was shocked that I could actually fully understand what the articles were saying. Not only this, but we were given two case studies throughout the semester that were from Harvard and Stanford. These studies also brought real life situations into the classroom, thus showing us the applicability of finance in everyday business life. Some classes were harder than others, but now this is a school I am going to apply to, for my MBA; pretty cool.
Besides the school, THE PEOPLE. All I can say is: my best friends are Swedish, Norwegian, German, and Italian after this short time period. I have already booked a flight back to Europe during the summer to visit my friends that I have made. When you combine many people from all over the world, its not a lonely feeling. People are so keen on meeting as many people as they can, and genuinely want to get to know you. We started out attending international student events that Italian students held, to throwing our own events that the Italians then came to. It was so cool to see how you find your “group”. Trust me, you will never be alone.
I have to mention the Erasmus student group here, because they truly got me out of my shell. I went to speed dating, social nights, and weekend trips to Tuscany with this group. From this, I ended up planning a 2 week long spring break in the South of Italy with some of the people I had meet through this group. My favorite memory that I had from one of my trips was going to Morocco, four wheeling in the Sahara Desert and then spending the night at a desert camp.
If you couldn’t tell already, I studied in Italy. Milan to be exact. Many people at first were shocked that this was not “so quaint” and filled with cobble stone streets, but it was SO MUCH MORE. One of the least touristy cities in Italy, thus filled with actual Italian culture, and hidden secrets that one would only know of if they actually went to school there. I HIGHLY recommend this city and this program. I took friends from home around to some of my new favorite places and although it was not the Colosseum, I swear they liked it way better than the tourist traps.
I am tearing up writing this, because I would give anything in the world to go back even just for one more week. GO, EXPERIENCE, LIVE!!! It goes by so fast, so really try to soak up every single moment…. You’ll never get a chance like this again.
From anxiety, discovery, to excitement, John Xu shares his emotionally enlightening journey of studying abroad on the Student Exchange Program to Hong Kong Science and Technology, Hong Kong.
Studying abroad for a semester in Hong Kong was not only the best decision I’ve made in college, it was the best decision I’ve made in LIFE. I remember when I first decided I was going to commit to a semester abroad, I almost wasn’t able to because I signed up too late. Every week that led up to leaving the country I’d get more anxious, just because of the fact that I’d never spent an extended amount of time out of the country. I knew I was pushing my comfort zone and that it would help broaden my horizons on a global scale and give me more diverse career opportunities, but it was still nerve wrecking anticipating the process I was going to put myself through.
However, as soon as I stepped off the plane in Hong Kong and hopped into a taxi to my university, I realized I had made a great decision. From the moment you arrive, you begin to realize the difference in culture and environment of the country you’re studying abroad in compared to back home. Those difference were exciting for me; from the food to the city life, to the university environment, everything I did was exciting because it felt so fresh and unique. It seemed like every other day I was experiencing a “once in a lifetime” moment that I had to document and cherish to the fullest extent. I was able to extend these moments by traveling to 7 other countries in Southeast Asia during my semester, allowing me to experience the differences in all of the Asian cultures. By the end of the semester, I had made friends with so many people all around the world who had also chosen to study abroad and gained not only the perspectives of people in Hong Kong but everywhere around the world. I truly feel like I built something special with the group of people I became friends with there and that we would always stay in touch.
Coming back home, I realized how much I had changed and grown as a person. I now feel confident in myself to tackle problems ahead of me and create unique solutions to tasks at hand (I backpacked across 9 cities in Thailand and Myanmar for 17 days straight!!). Before leaving for Hong Kong I couldn’t have even dreamed of doing such a thing. Returning from abroad I feel a deeper appreciation for the comforts of life that America provides and I’m thankful for things that I had always took for granted in my daily life. Biggest of all, I’m happy that I now have a global attitude for my career after college, my goal is to be able to make a difference in the people and places, not just around me but in the world. I’m already planning out my next trip abroad, and I can’t wait for you to get started on your journey too. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make the best decision of your life!
Fisher undergraduates Hanna Atiyeh, Roni Groebner, Elizabeth Navarre, Adela Pang and Joe Wimer share their cultural and professional development experience during their 3-week Global Projects Program in Jaisalmer, India.
When we arrived in India, the team believed that the scope of our project was to come up with a way to preserve the fort as a historical and cultural monument while increasing tourism and helping the multiple bodies of fort’s management to better communicate with one another. However, after interview multiple locals, we realized that the problems facing the city of Jaisalmer are more complicated and engineering based. The most prominent issue is the water seepage throughout the fort’s walls that is breaking down the infrastructure. The team identified this slow erosion and destruction as the most pressing issue. Essentially, if this problem is not fixed, the Jaisalmer Fort will slowly crumble away; and, without the fort, the main attraction of Jaisalmer for tourism will be gone. Furthermore, the residents living inside the fort are adamant on staying within the Fort because of their familial connections to the history of the fort. Their homes have been passed down within families for centuries. How they identify culturally and religiously is based on living inside the Fort; it means everything to them to stay.
After hearing the locals’ concerns, researching possible solutions, and touring the Fort to see all the problem areas regarding the water seepage and sewage system, we devised a tentative solution: find the best, non-biased group of engineers to come and evaluate the condition of the sewage and draining system and apply for grants or find a source of funding for the infrastructure study. While we thought our tentative plan was feasible, we needed to wait on our meetings with our client, Crown Prince Chaitanya Raj Singh, to hear his feedback.
We met Prince Chaitanya the last week of our time in Jaisalmer. After a dinner where we got to know each other a little bit better, we were able to understand his situation more fully. We met multiple times over the next few days and began to work through how we could offer value-add deliverables. After much discussion and brainstorming with the Prince, we propsed that the team: 1. Create a persuasive argument and presentation for Prince Chaitanya to use for future awareness and fund sourcing presentations; 2. Generate a strategic partnership analysis that outlines all of the possible sources of funding, engineering groups, and a timeline for the project; 3. Draw a map of key players/stakeholders and their relationships concerning the Fort and outlining roles and duties as well as suggesting ways to improve and clarify roles.
After returning to the USA, we will continue to communicate with Prince Chaitanya to further focus our plan. Through our class with Professory Tansky in the upcoming fall semester and with the help of our project Faculty Advisor, Heidi Eldred, we hope to create something of value for Prince Chaitanya and the city of Jaisalmer.
Fisher undergraduates Hanna Atiyeh, Roni Groebner, Elizabeth Navarre, Adela Pang and Joe Wimer share their cultural and professional development experience during their 3-week Global Projects Program in Jaisalmer, India.
Jaisalmer to Jodhpur to Delhi to Jaipur to Agra and back to Delhi. The second half of our time in India proved to be quite the road trip. Throughout the first two weeks of the Global Projects Program, the India Team was lucky enough to have amazing cultural experiences, shown in the first blog. We all thought it would be hard to top the generosity, history, and culture of Jaisalmer; however, I think we all fell in love with every city we visited.
We arrived in Jodhpur by train – a cultural experience itself. Traveling across India by train, watching the various towns pass by and interacting with domestic and foreign passengers, was certainly an unforgettable adventure. When we arrived in Jodhpur, we were welcomed by the most interesting couple who offered up their gorgeous haveli to us. The Canadian wife and Italian husband showed us another side to life in India as they had met in the city and lived there for over 20 years.
The fort within the city of Jodhpur was well maintained and beautiful to any tourist who visited. Our group, however, received a top of the line experience with a tour given by the curator of the museum. He was able to explain, in depth, history, cultural significance, and even take us to various areas of the fort that were restricted to the general public. The “Blue City”, aptly named due to the blue hue of houses around the city, was a stunning site to see from the top of the fort. Our time in Jodhpur was short, but special.
After some unexpected delays in Delhi, we were able to hit the road to Jaipur – the “Pink City”. This time the Nepal team was with us. Driving through Jaipur showed great contrast to our time in Jaisalmer. The city was massive, monkeys were swinging from shop to shop, and the pink glow of the bustling city illuminated its beauty. In Jaipur, we also stayed at an amazing haveli. During our stay, we were able to watch traditional Indian dancing and even got an amusing puppet show.
While the city was beautiful, I think almost all of us agreed that our favorite part was the elephant ride up the Amber fort. Yes, elephants! These gentle giants carried us up to the top of the Amber fort where our tour guide showed us another stunning piece of history. Not only did we get to see the Amber fort, we also were able to see an old-fashioned textile shop with hand blocking and looming. The shop created intricate works of art and offered us all more background on how they came to be. The adventures of Jaipur wore us all out enough to make the five-hour drive to Agra pass quickly.
About an hour outside of the city of Agra, we had time to stop by the Sufi Shrine. Recommended to us by Prince Chaitanya Raj Sing, we made sure to add this stop to our list – and we are lucky we did because it was another rich and diverse part of Indian culture. Our tour guide took us into the shrine and around the palace. From the pandering children to the emanate worshipping, this visit allowed us another glimpse into Indian culture. We all headed to bed shortly after arriving in Agra due to an early morning ahead of us. A departure time of 5 am seemed cruel, but proved to be a wise decision made by our tour guide. The early morning allowed us to visit the Taj Mahal during the sunrise and with minimal crowds; indeed, standing in one of the new Seven Wonders of the World among so few people in one of the most populated countries in the world was an enigma.
The beauty of the Taj Mahal was not exaggerated. From the blue pools to the detailed white marble on the Taj Mahal, our jaws were permanently dropped. The Taj Mahal truly wrapped up our trip to India in the most beautiful way. I know our experiences, the people we’ve met, the cultures we’ve grown to love (definitely including chai at every meal), and all the places we’ve visited will stay with the Global Projects Program teams forever.