As much paperwork as I thought I had to deal with for college and grad school admissions, it is nothing compared to trying to live in another country. I have a newfound respect for my friends who are international students trying to live in the US. And, I think to myself, this is the best possible situation — Fulbright is already taking care of so much for me, the people I’ve dealt with have all been kind and helpful: my fulbright advisor at Yale, the people at the IIE, the people in India at the USIEF, and all my contacts both here and in India. Yet somehow I am still missing things that I need to get other things that I don’t quite understand yet. Admittedly, I am the kind of person who gets the most pleasure out of instantaneous accomplishment, but I have been learning a lot about patience and enjoyment of each part of the process, however daunting it may seem.
On the upside, though, every day I am talking with different interesting people. I am finding myself in different circles and making connections in communities that are really far outside of the world I know. And I haven’t even left the US yet.
By nature, I’m not someone who will go out of my way to introduce myself to people I don’t know — Astrid Baumgartner brought this up recently in one of her workshops: sometimes we recoil because we think the people we approach won’t like us or want to talk to us. For me, I often fear that I will say things that are culturally inappropriate and perhaps offensive (i.e., I still cannot figure out when I should be calling someone Mr./Mrs/Dr. versus X-Ji) But on the contrary, I’ve found that the Indian people I’ve talked to so far have been incredibly kind and helpful, and respond to my queries with a kind of directness that puts me at ease.
I can’t wait to see what the coming months bring and how the things that I’m now seeing on paper develop into real cities, friendships and journeys.