First impressions

I never thought I could feel so strongly about a certain place until I arrived in India for the very first time. Since stepping outside of Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai, I’ve relearned how to cross the road, tried some of the best street food of my life, totally reevaluated my concept of personal space, observed more religious traditions than I could count, experienced Delhi belly in Delhi, and picked up just enough Hindi to amuse the chaiwallah when trying to ease my insatiable chai craving. I can see why people either love or hate India — and I can’t possibly imagine going back home to Chicago in August.

Although I don’t start my internship at Shahi Exports in Bangalore until June, I wanted to come to India early so that I could travel around some of the North before heading down South for 10 weeks. As an Urban Studies major (C’20), I’m thrilled to be able to experience life in some of the most dynamic cities in the world and also to work with a highly dedicated team of people to learn about the role garment manufacturing and corporate social responsibility play in the world’s largest democracy.

Life in India somehow seems both astonishingly fast- and slow-paced at the same time. Everywhere I turn, there’s so much movement, energy, and people, and yet going somewhere or accomplishing any task typically takes much longer than usual… But in a weird way, I like how everything seems more flexible than in the States. For every nonexistent location on Google Maps or excruciatingly slow cab ride through noisy traffic, there’s a charmingly friendly resident excited to practice his English through conversation or unexpectedly beautiful home temple just waiting to pleasantly surprise me and my travel buddy Oliver around every corner.

One of my goals for this summer is definitely to work on being able to let go and embrace unexpected situations wherever and whenever they may pop up. I’ve already been incredibly humbled and blown away by the things I’ve seen, people I’ve talked to, and (of course) the food I’ve tasted, so I’m beyond excited to see what this summer has in store!

Mumbai

Here’s me stepping out of the hustle and bustle of Crawford Market in Bombay (notice the sweat!)

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About Piotr Wojcik

Penn Urban Studies c/o 2020 ~ intern at Shahi Exports, Bangalore, in summer 2018