I arrived in India on the September 6th 2015. I chose India for my exchange semester because I was looking for a real culture shock. I was truly interested in East Asian cultures and was motivated to experiment culture really different from all European one. Therefore I could improve my cross-cultural competence. In comparison with other Asian cultures, the Indian one is internally diverse and that fact made my choice easier.
I got registered at IIM Indore, one of the best institutes of Management in India. Indore, which is the largest city in Madhya Pradesh, is centrally located in India. It is a good basis for travelling.
My first couple of hours in India were strong in sensations. The heat, the very high humidity, the smells and the noise in the streets, but also, the way of driving and the sacred free cows put me directly into another world.
I first arrived in Delhi from France and then took a flight until Indore where I met some IIM students, part of StepCom, the association which is in charge of the exchange students. They have been, and still are, very welcoming and helpful. I am really very happy to have fallen with them.
The IIM campus is pleasurable and its sports complex is very pleasant. The way of life is very different here than in Europe. On the campus, people almost never sleep. There are no week-ends, classes could be and are frequently scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. This was a little bit difficult on the beginning. Also, coming from France, one needs to adjust to a bit less organized and pre-planned environment. Receiving emails late in the night with readings or assignments for the next day session is something that is usual to happen. All the students live in hostel buildings on IIM Indore campus which is located at 45 min drive outside of the city of Indore. Therefore, staying late at night to work on a presentation for the next day is nothing surprising. It is a very different way of working than in Europe. One of the most important things I understood is to be able to enjoy my time here is that I had to stop trying to have everything the way I have it in Europe and to accept very soon that I am in a totally different culture. From that moment I just tried to adjust myself.
On my first travelling trip, I went to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal and then to Rajasthan (Jaipur and Udaipur). I really enjoyed it. This first experience out of Indore was intense and represented my first true initiation to India. We were two foreign girls travelling and had to accept that, as tourists, being overcharged (even on the water bottles!) was totally normal. That was a little bit difficult at the beginning because we always had the impression to be considered as stupid. My second trip was in Kajuraho and Orccha, which were beautiful. And today, the 30th of October, I am preparing myself for my third one. I am going to Nainital, one of the HOP destinations. This trip in the Himalayas, organized by IIM Indore, will last one week and, I am sure, will also be a very great time.
The best possible advice I can give to the other students coming from abroad is to come informed but without having any expectation on what they will experience in India as everything is possible in Incredible, magical India. Above all, stay open-minded! 🙂
This article is written by Lina El Quasri, an Exchange student from France at the IIM Indore campus.