Monday, April 11, 2011

I survived a semester at an Indian University

I officially finished university lectures today. I wish I could say I am sad that I am finishing up here but ‘relieved’ would more closely resemble the truth. I would love to be able to write a long list of things I will miss about this university the way Jessica Watson did towards the end of her sailing adventure but all I could come up with was friends. Having said that, my time studying here has been a very steep learning curve and no doubt has brought about much change in my own beliefs, ideals and values and for that I would not wish to change my experience.
Ok, so while my lectures have officially finished I still do have to come back to the uni at the end of May to sit my end term exams. During this time my classmates will all head off to different schools to complete their practical teaching .This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about studying in India – teaching in India! However, when I arrived at the uni I was told it would not be possible for me to teach in Punjab because I didn’t speak Hindi or Punjabi. I have no idea why they couldn’t have told me this while I was in Australia but I am beginning to think that many Indians actually believe a large majority of people outside their own country speak their language. Of course I have since found out that there are in fact many primary schools in the area that are strictly English medium and I even know a Polish girl who speaks English as her second language who teaches as an ‘authentic English teacher’ at one of these schools. I feel now that perhaps the real reason I am not permitted to teach at one of these Primary schools is the fact that in LPU I am studying how to be a ‘university’ lecturer not a primary school teacher as requested and promised.
Nevertheless things have worked out well because I now have a month free. And with that I have booked a plane ticket to Sri Lanka where Brent and I will be volunteering at an Elephant conservation centre. Next to horses, I am slightly obsessed with elephants and completely captivated by their beauty and magnificence. I suppose we could have found an Elephant centre in India to volunteer at but when you are so close to so many countries it makes sense just to pop over for a look (oh and did I mention there is better surf in Sri Lanka!). I am told that while we are at the park we will be allocated our own elephant to care for. This includes cleaning his paddock (I am no stranger to mucking out stables and paddocks but I assume cleaning an elephant’s paddock might be a ‘bigger’ job), bathing the elephant, feeding him and giving him any medicine or first aid care required. Contrary to what you might think, caring for an elephant is not an all day job so while we are there (and this was the clincher for me wanting to stay at this particular centre) we also get to choose another volunteer project to partake in. There is an option to teach English to the local children and adults in the Buddhist temples (which is what I am hoping to do) or you can volunteer in their completely self-sufficient organic garden (which is perfect for Brent given he is studying Environmental Science). In addition we can also accompany the local vet on his house visits for those people with sick or injured pet elephants – strange but true. Apparently there is little to do at night time at the centre so I have packed my books and intend to study for my end term exams.
We head off early Wednesday morning so I’ll keep you posted on the Elephant adventures.
Some of my Guidance and Counseling classmates - my teacher on the right in the pink top sitting

Some of my educational entrepreneur classmates


  1. Kristen, just happened to check back in with your blog. Good timing! It certainly sounds like the whole experience was bitter-sweet, but I am truly glad it was you who we 'sent' to India, if that makes sense. It seems you've both made the most of every opportunity and you've kept a very open mind to everything that came your way. Not many could say they've have the experiences that you have!
    I certainly think you should be sharing your experiences (and photos) with a wider audience too, if you have the time/opportunity. I'm very sorry to hear about your grandmother and your friend - as you say - no matter your expectations you can't ever really be prepared for encounters with mortality when they arrive.

    Keep enjoying your last days there and good luck for your exams. If you're planning to start teaching as soon as possible any school will be blessed to have you!

    All the best!

  2. Hi Jacqui,
    great to hear from you! thank you for your kind words :) I actually have a year left of university but I just can't wait to get out there and teach! We are currently in Shri Lanka taking a little time out and it's amazing how retrospect helps you to appreciate your experiences more, so hopefully when we get back we will be able to tackle India head on. I would love to share my blog with more people but I really have no idea how. I am struggling to find the time to update it at the moment but I'll look into it.
    Take care