Letters from around the world

Meghan Doherty

Senior Meghan Doherty (left) has learned to read, write and speak Marathi while studying abroad in India. (Meghan Doherty and Mattie Young-Burns)

I laugh when I think back to my first few weeks in India. Back in the days where crossing the street felt like a difficult level of Frogger, where the writing on the signs and buildings seemed like a secret code and when simple tasks like eating or bathing with the supplies given were a mystery.
I have now been living in India for almost three months. Even though I sleep in an old Indian couple’s flat, under a mosquito net and on a bed that is as hard as the floor, I feel very much at home.
Now I cross the street with confidence, and only get a teensy bit scared when five people all on one motorcycle whiz by. The script that covers the city is no longer a code but a new alphabet I have mastered and enjoy writing in. Eating with my hands and bathing from a bucket feel like the way things should be done and I am already dreading the return of the fork and knife upon my arrival in America.
Every day here is an adventure, if you want it to be or not. You think all you have to do in a day is go to the post office and mail a letter. But this turns into getting lost amidst the crowded streets, haggling with rickshaw wallas who try to overcharge you and avoiding the red thumb of an elderly women trying to smear your forehead with powder. You finally reach the post office where nobody knows English and all of a sudden “two stamps please” in Marathi becomes the line between failing and succeeding in your task.
But in between the moments when the hot, fast and dirty city of Pune throws challenges your way, are the people. The man who gets a bag of pears and pomegranates ready to hand to you on your walk to school or the little girl who wants to practice her English and asks you what your name is three times just to hear it again. Or the rickshaw walla who is so impressed with your ability to say “turn left here” in Marathi that he smiles while doing the famous Indian bobble of his head. This may not be a cushy study abroad experience, but it sure as hell is a rewarding one and I would not trade it for anything.
Have a beautiful day!

(Nhi Nguyen)

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