No matter how much you prepare for this trip, you won’t understand until you’re there. You should still do as much research on the culture as you can before you leave. Study abroad in India is unlike any other study abroad program. Your education of India is based on real life experiences and interactions, rather than textbooks and lectures. It is a great experience I recommend for anyone looking for an authentic Indian experience. I’ve made a list in no particular order of some things that you would want to know before your journey.
1. Bring your camera everywhere—everywhere you look is a photographic opportunity in India. You never know what you’re going to see.
2. HYRDRATE. You’re living in a desert that reaches 120°F, you’re going to sweat a lot. The palace provides you with an infinite supply of bottled water.
3. Don’t drink water that isn’t bottled.
4. If profusely sweating really makes you uncomfortable, you can buy some body powder that helps cool you down in the heat. It’s available at home or India.
5. If you’re a lady you’re better off not bringing many American clothes. Buy Indian clothes—they’re really cheap and they’re more adaptable to the weather. Don’t bring shorts, or revealing tops. Indian women dress modest. Always cover your shoulders with an appropriate top or scarf.
Here’s two Indian girls wearing kurtas– a long tunic style shirt, with baggy pants. You can also wear legging under the long shirts.
6. If you’re a guy you can pack as many American clothes as you like, because a lot of Indian men dress western.
7. Some simple Indian etiquette—Don’t use your left hand, to eat, to touch, or really anything. Your left hand is impure in India.
8. Take shoes off before entering any temple, home, shop, etc.
9. With that being said, you’re going to want to bring slip on shoes or sandals that are easily removable (trust me).
10. Never say no to chai tea, and try to not say no in general to Indians.
11. The two finger peace sign means toilet in India, so remember that next time you take that adorable selfie.
12. PACK LIGHT. There’s really not much you’ll need, and if you want to bring back gifts keep that in mind.
13. Bring books or anything that keeps you occupied for downtime.
14. Bring a helmet—Indian traffic is crazy! Prepare yourself because you’ll be disappointed when you go to reach for the seat belt that’s not there.
15. Be prepared to have a chaperone with you at all times when you leave the palace (especially if you’re a woman).
16. Be prepared to hand wash your clothes. There’s a bucket in the bathroom you can fill up with water and add some soap or shampoo. It’s not full-proof but at least you won’t smell.
17. Also be careful with washing your Indian clothing because they’re likely to bleed excess dye and I don’t think you want to tie dye the rest of your clothes. It takes a couple of washes to get it all out, so wash items separately.
18. Ladies your hair is probably going to get really dry from the sun, a little bit of Moroccan or coconut oil goes a long way.
19. Have interview questions and translations (if possible) ready before you arrive in India. You don’t have a lot of time and you want to hit the ground running when you arrive. Plus it’s really difficult to get the translators to translate the Gujarati interviews back into English so with that being said…
20. Be assertive and persistent!
21. Take advantage of the currency exchange. One US Dollar is about 55 Rupees. Everything is so cheap!
22. Air Conditioning is a luxury in India, beat the heat and retreat to your bedroom for AC for breaks or sleep. You don’t want to waste your time indoors when there’s so much to experience.
23. Don’t rely on internet. The Wifi is really finicky.
24. Get your vaccines and bring diarrhea medicine—I hate to go there, but your stomach may need some adjusting to the food.
25. Bring some tissues or toilet paper for your travel bag if you don’t feel comfortable using eastern bathrooms (a hole in the ground without toilet paper). The palace has western bathrooms but anywhere else you visit won’t.
26. Bring an electric converter, you may need an adapter too depending on the voltage of the products you’re bringing.
27. Forget about meat, get your last fill at the airport because you won’t be getting it in Dhrangadhra.
28. Prepare to find geckos on your walls, at first it may be scary but they’re actually pretty cute and harmless.
29. Prepare for stares. For many people this may be the first time they’ve ever seen a foreigner.
30. Bring music and learn music. Instruments are cheap to buy in India. I bought a mandolin for $25, and you get free daily music/dance lessons with Mehul.
31. Eat a lot of mangos, because they’re delicious and not as ripe in the US.
32. Bring some American snacks to remind you of home, and in case you don’t agree with dinner.
33. It’s also a nice thought to bring some American or Temple U gifts for people you meet, they’ll appreciate it.
And if you have any other questions, feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org