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By Lauren Criss-Carbooy from USA in Delhi on YES Abroad Program

Since coming to India, I have changed in ways I would never have imagined. I am from Alaska, U.S.A., which to say the least, is an extremely different environment than Uttar Pradesh.  When I first came to India, I was terrified but excited to see what my exchange had in store for me. My first month or so was a whirlwind of new experiences, both big and small. Each small moment seemed to be a big step towards my personal growth and my adjustment to India. I counted a list of firsts, first time shopping in an open market, first Indian celebration, first day of boarding school, among many others. Since my time here, I have picked up a little bit of Hindi and learned to read and write, (if only at elementary Hindi level), I have made lifelong friends, learned to cook Indian dishes, participate in service projects, and learned countless things about Hinduism and other vibrant Indian religions. With each new experience I have and each new challenge I conquer I feel that I have become more confident and closer to India. India has become my second home and I feel that my bond with my host family and friends and culture will continue throughout the rest of my life. This exchange experience has given me the opportunity to learn what I am capable of and continues to challenge myself. I have also had the opportunity to share some of my own culture with my family and friends here. I have celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my family and given a presentation to my classmates on life in the United States. It was really interesting to see how their expectations of American life matched up with my own experiences. I can’t wait to see what other experiences and adventures are in store for me in the coming months!