Makayla Hyde: Student Report from 2018 Alternative Summer Break to India
If I could describe India in one word, I would say chaotic. The flights, the driving, the shopping was all perfect chaos. This trip was 100% like nothing I had ever experienced before but if I could go back, I would definitely do it again.
I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this trip and I can easily say that I was more than happily surprised. Having a chemical engineer for a dad, I have had opportunities to travel with him on some of his trips. As a family, we have been to the Netherlands, Germany, France, and South Africa but this trip has topped them all.
Since touring the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, during my sophomore year of high school, I have always looked forward to taking advantage of UT’s many study abroad opportunities. After meeting with my academic adviser during my freshman year, I realized that I would not be able to study abroad for a whole semester due to the engineering curriculum. So, I started looking for any and all programs that would be offered during the winter or summer break. When I discovered that the Tickle College of Engineering offered service-related alternative break trips, I knew this would be the perfect program for me. I thought this project sounded not only interesting but unique. This was the first alternative break to India and I was super excited to be part of this opportunity. I thought the engineering service project would be a perfect opportunity in which to participate, while the Indian cultural experience would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
India was nothing like any other country I had visited. The food, the attire, and weather was nothing I could’ve prepared myself for. I tried my best to pack enough cool clothes, bug spray and sunscreen to last two weeks but I still think I sweated my body’s weight each day. But I honestly could not have asked for a better place for us to call home for a week. The work site where we stayed had unbelievable views right outside the front door, and the people running the place could not have been better.
Before leaving for India, I was terrified of not being able to drink the water and was beyond worried about eating food that was safe. But the work site staff knew exactly how to cook for us and even made it to where we could eat fresh fruit and smoothies and just not have to worry at all. They also cooked all kinds of foods for us. We got to experience Indo-Chinese food along with Indian food from all over the country. One of our meals was even served on a whole banana leaf with no silverware, so we embraced our inner childhood and played with our food as we ate.
My favorite part, by far, was the night we got to spend shopping the unique handcraft stores on the commercial street in Bangalore. This night solidified my opinion that India can be described as perfect chaos. We walked the packed streets inches from cars with stores fronts stacked three high. There was laughing and yelling and thousands of different smells but it was perfect. The shops had beautiful handmade objects that were unreasonably cheap and the different kinds of street foods were everywhere.
In all, I never thought this trip would mean so much to me. I thought nine days in India would just be a really cool experience. But the whole trip was something that I could never imagine. With six new best friends and a new