Studying abroad in Pune is a decision that I will forever stand by. Although I had many challenges, overall my experience from homestay, classes, traveling, to food, were positive. I had a really enjoyable homestay. I stayed with a woman who was super kind, compassionate, and understanding. She really was a second mother to me and I'm still in contact with her now. I think the homestay really added another dimension to the experience because we were able to celebrate festivals with extended family members, visit aunts and uncles houses, and learn more about the food, religion, and traditions from someone's everyday experiences.
I loved that Pune is big enough that there is a lot to do, but not to big that you never get a feel for the city. By halfway through the semester we all really knew the city, its layout, and how to find our way around. I also like that there are a lot of young people in Pune and a lot of colleges so you meet a lot of people (Indian and others) your own age. India is also huge, and during travel week in November (a week with no set programming when you can travel wherever) you are able to really take advantage of everything the country has to offer in terms of languages, cultures, food, etc. and traveling is reasonably cheap/easy. I really enjoyed the times I had with the other people on my program when we went traveling and had the chance to leave Pune. Traveling in India made me a lot more confidant in my ability to travel anywhere. I also made some really good friends in Pune who I am still in contact with. What I did not like about Pune/India was that things are often not as efficient or fast as they could be. When things went wrong (and things always go wrong during study abroad no matter where you go) it sometimes took longer or there were more steps to finding solutions.
I enjoyed the Alliance program a lot! I felt that the staff at the center were really friendly, helpful, and in many ways were like a family to us. The program coordinator and her assistant are really willing to hear your feedback, concerns and do anything they can to help with a smooth transition and enjoyable semester. They help you navigate your homestay, traveling around India and Pune, give recommendations for things to try/see/do, and by the end we were all like a mini family (not to sound too cliché). You also have two excursion weekends all together which are really great bonding times. The center was nice enough. It is at the Gokhale Institute which is really pretty and there you can get breakfast, have your classes, and all the staff are based there.
Most of the time I felt safe and I made the same good decisions I would make in any city I don't know very well. Having said that, I'm not a person who is shaken up very easily. There was a young woman on my program who felt uncomfortable in certain situations where there were large crowds, but I think as long as you are assertive and stick in a group you shouldn't encounter any issues.
The food did get a little repetitive after a while, but being able to eat out for lunch and some dinners offered a nice dose of diversity. Almost all the homestays are vegetarian and so no meat will be allowed into their homes (they also consider eggs to be meat), but outside of that you kind find chicken, etc. in most restaurants. I personally never got sick or anything, but I also spent the summer leading into my program interning in India so I could have been more acclimatized than others. A lot of food will in some way be "Indianized" no matter if its pizza, KFC, Italian food, etc. so just don't expect anything to be EXACTLY the way you would find it in the US.