For business student Robert Terry, the decision to go to India with the Study Abroad program was a no brainer, “it satisfied an exploration education requirement and it was a place I’ve never been.”
The program brought Terry to several cities and states within India, but he did have thoughts before he left. “The first time you travel somewhere there will be reservations and you will have basic stereotypes, but it’s exciting. The first day, you are jet lagged and everything is different. I think everyone in my group was amazed at how developed India is. Some reference the movie Slum Dog Millionaire when they think of India, so I think a lot of us were surprised to find out that wasn’t the case.”
The Study Abroad India program is faculty-led by Professor Emeritus M.C. Madhavan. Terry adds, “Professor Madhavan is a very recognized man in India. During the trip he received the Global Organization of People of India Origin (GOPIO) International Service Award for promoting good relationships between the U.S. and India. Only one other person in the world that year received that distinction. So, he’s not only recognized, he’s respected.”
Along with Madhavan being well-known in India, he does his best to tailor the program to those who go. “Yeah, the cool thing about the trip was that Professor Madhavan geared it to who was going on the trip. He took a personal interest in all of us. He asked, ‘What’s your major? What are your interests?’” says Terry. For example, one student on the trip was interested in fashion, so there was a trip to a textile mill, where they got to see how patterns on fabric are created. Another student was interested in computers, so they visited a business to see how they use technology.
There was a lot to experience during the 2011-12 trip. The group started in Kochi, which is on the southwest coast and then they went down to the tip of India, and drove back up the southeast coast. That was followed by a trip inland to the university to study. After that they flew to Bombay.
Among the highlights Terry says was meeting a Maharaja (king) in India. “We got to meet a king. He owns a temple, and when they opened the safety rooms they found jewels worth about $7 billion in that temple. You can put a price tag on those jewels, but you can’t put a price on experiencing natural history.”
Many students note the friendships made during study abroad, since everyone is going through the same program. “When you study abroad, you become a family with the other students. I still keep in touch with my group and we have reunions.”
Terry had such a positive Study Abroad India experience that he enrolled in the program twice. “I had never been to a place like India before, and I’m really happy I chose to go. I like having another cultural perspective, and I believe when you experience a different culture, you come back with a different perspective. I feel I have a lot more patience. My advice to other students considering going to India is to feel confident. I think study abroad is a very valuable experience whether it’s for personal growth or a competitive advantage in the job field.”