Christina is a final year business student with a love for mythology and historic tales. This passion has lead her to travel for every summer in the past few years to a different country. She hopes to save up and travel across India again, but this time for an entire year.
Why did you choose this program?
India has always fascinated me. I took up a course online about Indian mythology and that pushed me even more to visit the place. In the summer of 2017, I was finally able to make this happen by saving up for it in the months leading up to it. My biggest reason was that it was the cheapest project that I could find and along with that it was providing almost everything like meals, stay, activities during evening and weekends.
Being a student, having a budget program was very important for me.
Along with this, the person allotted to me, who got in touch over a Skype call, was really sweet and helpful.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
They provided me with a pre-arrival booklet which had all the information I needed about booking flight tickets, visa, etc. Although I made all the arrangements, like visa, tickets, vaccination, myself; their booklet guided me and I was in touch with my coordinator, Aman, over Whatsapp, who helped me alongside.
Once I reached India, all the things were taken care off, so I didn't have to worry much after I reached.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
My biggest advice would be to join a trusted travel company for a volunteering program. I joined through The Tarzan Way and I would definitely recommend them, but research and choose the one suitable to you.
I met quite a few travellers in India who had decided not to travel with any support and they faced quite a lot of problems, ranging from small issues, like having bad rooms, to bigger issues, like being cheated, etc.
If planning on travelling to India, make sure you have a trusted travel company with you. India is a very safe country, but having someone you trust and has your back makes all the difference. TTW allotted a coordinator to me in India who was always available on text or call and lived quite nearby, so I always felt secure.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
My day would begin really early since the other girl I was sharing a room with was a fitness nut. So she would end up waking me up at like 5-6 AM for a morning job and fitness session.
Our breakfast would generally consist of Indian food (alu paranthas, which are heavenly - they have potato stuffed inside, curd, pickles, etc., was the general thing; there would be variations at time too, like poha which is basically indian cereal and so on).
After breakfast, on weekdays we would go for volunteering work. I was working with children and taking care of their sports activities, so I would mostly spend the entire day in the field handling class after class of over-energetic children. My roommate had a bit easier job of teaching the kids Maths in class, but she said that they were as energetic in class as in field.
Afternoons would generally be spent taking part in some activity that TTW arranged, such as cooking class, Hindi class, sightseeing trip, etc. We are provided the itinerary before we sign up and they have quite a lot of such activities included in the project during evening and weekends.
Evenings and nights would generally be spent resting after the tiring day, although we did often go out for shopping and dinner.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
India is a country which does not have the best reputation when it comes to travellers and that is what scared me the most. How was a prepared to face such a chaotic country?
Truth be told, it is nothing like what people believe it to be. There are bad elements everywhere and that is what is shown everywhere else in the world, but Indians were actually one of the most helpful and kind-hearted people I have met out there.
The biggest change that I had happened in me because of this is that I no longer believe what is feeded to me by social media and news channels.
Any final thoughts?
Travelling Abroad is a scary thing to do, specially if you are a young, solo, female traveller like me, but there is nothing to be scared of. Just put faith in yourself and take the leap. I can promise you that the memories you make and places you see will change you and your perspective about everything around you.
You are stronger than you think!