Sustainable Development and Social Change, Jaipur

Ishana Sahabir

When I started college, like a majority of students, I knew I would be studying abroad. I wanted to go somewhere like London or maybe Strasbourg, some of the campuses Syracuse University’s Study Abroad website proudly flaunted. However, as time moved on, I began to have a deep interest in South Asian Studies, enjoying every class about Indian politics, Indian history and Hindi. I fervently looked through the options available on the website once more. It was then I found SIT: Sustainable Development and Social Change, and that was truly what started the best experience of my life. I landed in Jaipur, India along with 12 other students and began a journey of appreciation for the country that would soon teach me so much.

Throughout my time in India, I explored 10 different cities. I had the opportunity of learning a little bit about each one and I gained a better understanding of the social dynamics and cultures prevalent there, which is important since almost every state has a different language and way of life. Most learning in India is not limited to the classroom, but rather it happens through the day-to-day experiences of how you interact with people.

Studying in India meant embracing a multitude of cultures, people and information. I still maintain that the beauty of countries like India lies in the travelers’ ability to comprehend its history. In fact, India’s rich and contrasting cultures are credited to the fact that many of its people have held onto their historical traditions for decades. Being in a country with such values led me to gain a deeper appreciation for the metaphysical musings I was surrounded by. Whether one believes in them or not, they are definitely a treat to experience.

My time in India was truly my most fulfilling semester in college. It allowed me to explore a wide spectrum of topics, from the social dynamics of mountainous nomads in Uttarkhand, northern India to the effects of disappearing waterways in Pondicherry, southern India (even though swimming there got us into a bit of trouble with the Coast Guards!). Besides academics, I got to enjoy bargaining with local vendors in Jaipur and experience the serenity of Rishikesh during our allotted weekend travels. I was able to conduct a study of human rights violations of migrant workers for my final project while interning with an NGO in Gujarat for a month. Ishana-newsletter

Studying abroad in India allowed me to be confident in my capabilities, the day-to-day situations allowed me to think constructively and quickly. It has inspired me to travel more, to take more classes about India, to still stay in touch with the people I’ve met there. I consider myself beyond lucky that I got the opportunity to study there, and I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat.

Ishana is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in International Relations.