Why India? The more I am asked this question (specifically by my worried parents) the more I understand my decision. There were key moments in my life that brought me to where I am now, so allow me to offer some background information. My name is Lizette Grajales and I am a rising Senior at the University of Pennsylvania. As a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, I am studying Biological Basis of Behavior with a minor in Chemistry and an ambition to pursue a career in the medical field.
I began my educational career as a first generation Latina at Penn eager to maximize my learning in every way possible. The social and academic challenges I faced taught me to proudly value my cultural identity and to appreciate experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I quickly realized my growth was tethered to moments of adversity, frustration and (of course) awkwardness, thus, I grew eager to be challenged in my learning experiences.
I always knew I wanted to travel abroad as a student but I was never sure where I would go. As I began applying to programs, I sought opportunities that matched my busy pre-med schedule with my personal goals and ambitions. Fortunately, I found that exact thing in the CASI summer internship program. This summer, I was given the great opportunity to intern at Aravind Eye Care Systems in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This allows me to live abroad during the summer break and leave my pre-med course schedule uninterrupted while also gaining invaluable clinical and research experience in a hospital. However, what I am most excited about is having the opportunity to be in a new and unfamiliar environment. India, with its welcoming and vibrant culture, offer me the chance to have a unique lifestyle that will certainly push me out of my comfort zone.
Besides learning about the country’s culture and the operations of the Aravind hospital, I aim to learn to let go. I anticipate having difficulties adjusting but I know that each moment of frustration or confusion will bring a new a lesson. As I leave behind my overwhelmingly busy schedule, my typical responsibilities, and my usual habits, I will focus on living each new experience with an open mind and serenity. Being so far away (in miles and hours) from the people and places I love will surely be difficult, but with each new day, I will push myself to be more comfortable with letting go.