Kiley Williams
Class of 2017

My Time in India

I love to travel because when I do, I gain a new set of lenses to see the world through.

When I was in middle school and my friends were watching Cartoon Network, I preferred to watch the Travel Channel and day dream myself into a new place every day. As a sophomore at Morgan State University, I was finally able to see my dream come true and begin my first study abroad experience in India.

In December 2018, my family dropped me off at JFK airport. This would begin a journey that took me the furthest I have ever been from my family. I returned to the United States at the end of January with a fresh perspective on the world, a special love and appreciation for Bollywood movies, and a place in my heart for India’s people.

Fun fact: I saw celebrity Diggy in my terminal of the airport in London.

Part of the reason why my study abroad experience was so dynamic was because of the many cities that I was able to experience during the short while I was in India. I flew into the capital city of New Delhi and spent 2 days there. My cohort then bused to the city of Agra for a day, then we spent 2 days in the city of Jaipur, before flying to Hyderabad where we would take a 3-credit class on Contemporary Indian Society. Each new city that I visited had many remarkable, beautiful, and unique experiences to offer. While traveling, I toured sites like the largest mosque in India “Jama Masjid”, the acclaimed Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri Palace of course the Taj Mahal! I also had the opportunity to ride an elephant, ride on a campus friend’s motorbike and “free rock climb” up to 3 stories high. Many of my experiences carried me beyond my comfort zone, and I loved every minute of it.

While studying at the University of Hyderabad, I explored the bustling city of Hyderabad, dubbed as India’s hi-tech city. Hyderabad is home to hundreds of IT companies and houses many offices familiar to Americans like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Citigroup.

In the classroom, my cohort and I interacted with professors of various ranks and tenures, many were Deans of their schools of study. We learned topics like Spatial Diversity of India, History of India, Gender and Society in India, Religion and Politics of India, Economy of India, Technology of India, and so much more. Each day, I learned something new that enriched my experience.

A huge part of my study abroad experience was the immersive learning that took place within me daily as I tried to absorb every moment. While in India, I was able to research how the lack of proper access to toilets affects rural Indian adolescent girls. Aside from learning about India’s challenges like the caste system and violence against women, I also saw many instances where I as an American could learn. India has a hugely diverse population and strives to honor that, having 3 times as many public holidays as America. In addition, India is extremely civically responsive, creating and revising new legislation at a pace where it seems that America falls behind.

Of course, there are some cultural differences that I had to get used to: shaking head “no” means “yes”, greeting others with a head bow, hands in prayer form and a “Namaste”, and hearing the national anthem that plays before every movie in the theaters.

Some of my favorites of India include: the flavorful spice filled and spicy food, chai tea and biscuits break twice a day, the daily disarray yet total sense, Bollywood dance moves and music, the taxis without windows or doors called “auto-rickshaws”, and the sunny 86-degree winter weather daily.

Before I went, people complained to me that the people of India were so poor, but by the end of my journey I could say that the people of India were so rich. Their wealth is stored up in the rich world heritage sites, innovative entrepreneurship, and the diverse yet united exceptional people.

I love the amazing country of India with all its sensory overloads. I am so grateful to God and all others who helped me make this invaluable experience possible. I have been encouraging my friends, family, and now you--to continue to travel and to explore the world made for you.