Alumni Spotlight: Morgan Kennedy

Morgan may be described as one part science-nerd, one part social-activist, two parts artist, and ten parts adventure-lover! Her major was neuroscience at the University of Rochester however is currently participating in an additional year of study where she is investigating women's issues in public health, something more aligned to her career goals in global health awareness.

female headshot

Why did you pick this program?

Morgan: IES is the go-to accredited program by my university and I have experience studying with them in Dublin during my junior year. I knew I wanted to study in Delhi, and the IES program there is a small and intimate size - something I was looking for especially when studying in such a very different cultural and economic condition.

I figured that given the size, it would be a very supportive and friendly network.... and I was right: IES Delhi staff and professors were fantastic. They arranged great trips and activities, gave us space to explore and live on our own, provided us with important information and help (such as taking us to the Doctor if we requested).

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Morgan: GO FOR IT. Oftentimes abroad programs are the same cost as your university or even cheaper... and any specific costs such as airfare and cost of living may be covered by scholarships. In both times studying abroad with IES, I received a small scholarship from IES which covered most of my plane ticket.

tree covered mountains

Besides money, people may be discouraged by credit transferring. If that is a concern, it is something that can be worked out with class rearrangements with a study abroad advisor or even with the program, who may have ties with local universities. Believe me, the chance to live and study in a new culture, make worldwide friends, gain more competence and confidence in adapting to new and different situations, and the fun and adventure that awaits is priceless.

Volunteering, interning, living, studying, traveling abroad will develop your personal skills and interests much more than any class will - and furthermore, participating in a program abroad will inspire you to perhaps study things you may not have otherwise pursued or had the opportunity to take!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Morgan: My favorite story is something very simple, but something I feel is testament to my entire experience in India. One morning, I stopped to greet a women on my street who was sweeping dust and trash. She only spoke Hindi, and I used my very very little bit to say hello and introduce myself after she looked so excited that I had greeted her.

Since that day, every morning I would walk by to reach the auto stand and she was there working, we would say hello, ask how one another was, and share a huge hug. Sometimes, she would pinch my cheeks. I cannot think of a better way to start my day then to see her, my friend Savitri. That is generally how I felt in India, when I made efforts to speak in hindi or embrace Indian culture (ie. my clothes), I was welcomed and rewarded.

canal stairways

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Morgan: Have an open mind. This is true for for any program, but especially when your are going to a place that may be very different from your home town or city. Especially in living with an Indian family home stay, attending an all-girls women's college in Delhi, and volunteering for an organization that works for poor migrant laborers, I experienced and learned things beyond the scope of my wildest expectations. India is not an "easy" place to live as an American.

I say that, not because it is "unfriendly" (quite the opposite, westerners are received well), but because the standards of living are very different from what is the norm in the west. Poor sanitation, crazy traffic, beggars, and a very populous urban area are a lot to adjust to. But that being said, you learn the most about yourself and about a culture when you learn to navigate a place of that nature.

With the support of IES's EXCELLENT staff, you will feel at home fast. Nearly everyone on my program did not want to leave... we all grew to love the chaos, communicate (even in Hindi), and befriend the city. Delhi is a huge and beautiful with much to offer - from the narrow alleys of old Delhi, to the shinier-than-any-mall-you've-ever-seen shopping centers of South Delhi, there is something for everyone.

Besides keeping an open mind, have an open suitcase! Especially if you love the Indian aesthetic like me. Bartering in the bazaars is fun and very regular part of live in Delhi... and there are too many beautiful (and cheap!) things to bring back to your loved ones and to remember your trip by.

delhi street market food

Also, I felt best when I wore traditional Indian clothes (especially in the heat!), so you won't need to bring tons from home. Keep your jeans in your closet.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

Morgan: This trip was meaningful to me because of all the great connections I made with local people. From our IES family to my Indian classmates and homestay family, I really felt like I was really LIVING in and experiencing Delhi, not just a student on a program abroad

Simply buying pomegranates off the street and hailing an auto in Hindi became a part of daily life that I looked forward to.