Post-Madurai Reflections

It’s been a few weeks since returning from India, but I wanted to wait on this last blog post until I was fully immersed back into Penn. It was an interesting transition, and it casts light onto some of the challenges immigrants face when coming to a new modernized country like the US. Of course, the transition is much easier for me considering I’ve grown up my entire life in the US, but still it does give insight.

One of the biggest changes was the pace of life. There seems to be no lull in the late afternoon like there was in India. Here, there is a push to always be doing something. If not classes or studying, then it’s tennis, information sessions, GBMs, and parties. Sometimes I look back and I’m not even sure how we passed the time after work; somehow with dinner and going to the gym, the day always wrapped. In India, there seemed to be a value placed on just sitting around. Not particularly doing much, but just enjoying and relaxing. Also, the day at Penn ends at 3 am, while in India it rarely went past midnight.

Another hard transition has been the food. Man the food in Madurai was amazing (widely regarded as the best place for South Indian food). Parottas, mutton chucka, and idlis at all hours in the night, it was awesome. Though having gone home first upon coming back to the US helped, now I’m at Penn. And I pretty much refuse to go to the Indian restaurants (at least for the time being until I can’t bear the lack of spice in my food).

One of the funny things I talked about with the other interns who came with me, Jane and Zach, is the “scandalous” clothing in the US. Not saying it’s scandalous to wear shorts or a tank top, but that’s how it would be perceived in Madurai. Not going to lie, I was a little taken aback by the amount of “skin” when I came back to the US. Now of course, it seems the normal again. But it makes more sense when my parents refuse to let my sister wear short shorts, or when they argue the morality of high school dances.

Another tough part is not being able to travel as much. That was one of the best parts of my summer in India. Every weekend, Zach, Jane, and I would go somewhere. As you have probably read in all our blog posts, we pretty much covered most of the major places in South India: Kodaikanal, Ooty, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Cochin, Alleppey, Munnar, Rameshwaram, Coimbatore, and Chennai. Not being able to do so now feels almost empty; there is a lack of new stimulation if you will. I hope that this upcoming school year, I’ll be able to the find the time to make road-trips. Even getting on the road to visit the other east coast cities would be a cool experience.

There are many other major changes when coming back to the US, the way people talk to each other, the technology, the more materialistic lifestyle, everything is more expensive, and of course the weather (who would’ve thought that I now feel 70 degrees to be on the chilly side??). But it’s traveling like this that shows how much we should appreciate the things we take for granted. It shows what we sometimes miss out on in life because we are used to doing this a certain way and fail to consider different perspectives, merely out of ignorance. I made a lifetime of memories in India and gained fresh perspectives on certain aspects in life. I’ll be forever excited to share my experiences with everyone and will fondly look back on this summer. And I hope, sooner rather than later, that I will be boarding a flight to make another trip back.

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About abhinayrcasi

I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a rising senior studying Bioengineering and minoring in Biological Basis of Behavior and Healthcare Management. I hope to go to medical school once I graduate. I came to Aravind to observe ophthalmology in addition to conducting clinical research and performing healthcare management operations studies. I am an avid sports fan, including tennis, baseball, cricket, and basketball. I especially love tennis and follow Roger Federer religiously. I love watching movies, both Tamil and English. I also enjoy eating and traveling, and I look forward to doing all of these while in India.