Becoming a Delhiite in One Semester! Past Review

By (Asian Studies/Civilization., Lake Forest College) - abroad from 07/15/2013 to 11/15/2013 with

Study Abroad Programs in India

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of social skills and picked up cultural cues that I had to learn on site. Much of my understanding about India only came from books and friends back in States, but learning about India in its actual context completely gave me a different interpretation about my major. This made me learn to love India even more and made my Asian Studies degree more valuable.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

There was a lot of course material through the study abroad office, which competed with my Master's level courses at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The readings were interesting though as well as the class field trips. It made our subjects truly come alive by taking expeditions out into the research field. The center has a small library, but it's growing. Many of the resources we needed for IES courses were either online or in that library.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Delhi IES center was more like a home than anything. The directors and staff are constantly checking in on student and try their best to run the office to the best of their abilities. We all try to go on group outings together as well. We also can reach the staff any time for any issue that we have. They really know Delhi as well, so give us lots of advice for the places to visit for anything we need!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a homestay with a very loving older couple, so it was very quiet in comparison to other homestays that had children. I connected really well with my host parents-we would go on religious and work outings together and just sit around and chat while watching TV. I had a large bedroom and my own bathroom to myself, so I had plenty of privacy. The area in which they lived was pretty quiet, though once you got out on the street, that's when the city became alive.

* Food:

My host parents only ate meat once a week, so we had chicken on occasion. This didn't bother me at all, but might be a problem for some non-vegetarians. We had simple food for their diet, which I liked. It was always Indian food as well. We never ordered out-there was always a home cooked meal waiting!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

From my outings with friends I already had, friends I made at Jawaharlal Nehru University, independent trips, and my outings with my host parents, I feel I had an advantage in India due to my extensive immersion in the culture. I was able to navigate through Delhi solo with ease halfway through the semester and help out other students in my group. I also was able to understand a lot of what was happening day-to-day and even blend in.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

IES had a recommended doctor who we could visit for any problems we had. One of our directors even offered to come with us on her first visit. I visited the doctor a few times-one at her home and a couple times at the hospital (hospitals aren't always used for serious issues, but rather more as a clinic). It was a bit inconvenient to go to her home, but the hospital visits were pretty quick and cheap in comparison to hospitals here. I could also pick up any medicine I needed from any pharmacy, which cost cents.

* Safety:

Delhi has often gotten a bad reputation for its safety, but the area in which IES Abroad operates is in South Delhi. This area tends to be well off and much safer and modern than the rest of the city. Taking autorickshaws and the metro wasn't much of a problem around Delhi, though buses tended to be tricky. After 8 pm, much of the street traffic cleared, so that's when I tried to get home or take the metro only. It basically comes down to having street smarts. You just have to be aware of your surroundings and try not to be too friendly with strangers.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Delhi is very cheap, so you don't have to spend much money to get by. Most of my money went towards traveling and food, which tends to be relatively cheap as well. I could get by very comfortably by spending $300-400 a month, which includes traveling to other states with accommodation, eating out, and buying new clothes. I also paid for a gym membership. One expense I didn't really expect was for clothes-you need to buy clothes there. The cotton clothing tends to be more conservative and traditional and is perfect for surviving the Delhi heat!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably spent almost $100 a month depending on how much traveling and eating out I was doing. If I stayed in Delhi, I could get by with around $50 including travel and shopping.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I brought travelers checks and cash, which helped me budget month-to-month expenses. When people used their credit cards here, they were usually charged a fee and had a hard time finding a bank that would accept their cards. With the constant price fluctuation, I could get a decent deal with cash conversions.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

When I traveled outside of Delhi, I had to use Hindi. I was really forced to use whatever language skills I had to communicate because I couldn't guarantee that English would be spoken wherever I went. In some areas of Delhi, I could get by with English, but it was minimally spoken.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I didn't speak the language at home, which made me become lax and not completely immerse myself in the language. I think that to become fluent, you have to speak the language everyone, especially at home.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • People
  • Food
  • Religious outings
* What could be improved?
  • Homestay
  • Food
  • Length of program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more people beforehand to get in touch with while in Delhi.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'