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Notes from Abroad: Kimiko in India
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Kimiko Fujioka Guillermo ’16, a dual major in education and history currently studying abroad at the ACM India program.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Speros scholarship for helping make my experience in Pune possible. I am currently studying abroad in Pune and absolutely loving it. It has been an enormous culture shock and I am still adjusting; however I believe I have finally mastered the squatty potty (I almost fell in!). My host family is wonderful and I am lucky to have two younger brothers as I grew up as an only child. My youngest brother, Veer, helps me every night with my Marathi homework (Marathi is the main language in Pune) as my Marathi class is one of my most challenging classes! My host mother, Pallavi, is extremely kind, considerate, yet very busy with work and chauffeuring my brothers to their various activities such as Tabla (drum) lessons, swim lessons, and tutorials for their exams.
The classroom dynamic is very similar to Lake Forest as it is mostly discussion based and the classroom size is small. The professors are amazing and extremely connected within the Pune community. For example, my gender studies professor is currently the Chief Coordinator of Aalochana Centre for Documentation and Research on Women, Pune, the city’s first women’s resource centre, founded in 1989 by five activists of the women’s movement in India. I am currently interning at Saheli an organization that works with sex workers in Pune, in which I am creating a self- defense pamphlet and teaching children English. For my independent research project I am studying the role of the teacher in Montessori and traditional pre-schools in Pune. In my spare time I take Bollywood dancing classes, explore the streets of Pune, and go to the gym (occasionally, I’ll admit to that). Also I have fell in love with cricket and was introduced to Kabaddi which I highly recommend people look up!
Some advice for studying abroad:
- Find students at your school who have completed your program!
- Do not take a lot of clothes with you! You’ll be surprised how much you buy.
- Budget, budget, budget. Before you leave create a budget plan for yourself ie: Food, transportation, gifts/souvenirs, etc. Even if the dollar is worth more when you’re abroad, don’t spend what is equivalent to what you would spend in the states. My average lunch meal is $2 and if I spend $5 I feel as though I am a queen.
- Spend your time exploring, not on social media. I am guilty of putting up pictures on Facebook, however, set up time limits for how long you will spend on it.
- Bring comfort food from home. Relax, you can survive without four pairs of pants and sacrifice it for cookie butter from Trader Joes.
- Call/Skype your parents. I’ve missed mine more than I could imagine and just hearing their voice brings me comfort.