Welcome To India — July 12th 2012

Welcome to India. I’ve been here for 5 weeks now, and have been blogging all along, but here’s my first contribution for the UCSC world. Welcome to India. 😉

5 weeks ago… arriving in India after 36 hours of travel, many, many airplane meals and watching the sun set over the green hills and skyscrapers of Hong Kong.

Sign in Mumbai, my first port of entry into India (ie where you have to go through customs and immigration, get your passport stamped, and recheck your baggage if you’re flying on within the country). I hung out here for 9 lovely hours, 11pm to 7am!

July 12th:

We have ongoing orientation every day, different lectures on everything from safety and health to poverty and gender in India, class selection counseling, receiving our cell phones and bikes (for which we just pay a deposit and return at the end of the semester).

All of the exchange students attending Hyderabad University (or Central University as the general public refers to is) stay in Tagore International House, at the south end of the expansive campus (half the size or UCSC at least). There are 26 of us in the CIEE program (which absorbed the 7 or us from UCEAP) and there are 3 or 4 other exchange programs that will have students arriving soon. And all of us are then part of the larger “SIP” program, Study India Program, which offers a few classes exclusively for us and other than that provides various programs and support for the exchange students.

So Tagore International House has separate men and women’s wings, but is actually the only co ed building on campus, and a dining hall which is pretty dang good. There’s also a huge lounge common area with a TV and DVD player and two huge balconies.

So the University of Hyderabad? Like I said, it is pretty big, although not bigger than UCSC, but has a comparable amounts of foliage. It was the first government funded university in the whole country, started in the early 1970s and is very small, only 5000 students, and with over 400 professors a  nine students to one professor ratio! What a privilege. And this is a graduate university, so all the students here are working on either masters or PhDs. So us exchange students take some classes through SIP with only international students, and then also take some first year graduate courses and we also have the option for independent study. I haven’t gotten my schedule sorted out yet but should know within the next couple of weeks.

The weather is comparable to coastal Ecuador, although we are at 17 degrees latitude not 2 or 3. (The area known as the tropics, is defined as the area from -23 degrees to 23 degrees latitude, the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn…). It is HUMID and HOT. Very cloudy. Supposedly we are in Monsoon season, but it has only rained once so far (and I was taking a jet lagged nap, our first day here). I guess the weather is getting more and more un-predictable and abnormal around the world. But I’ve heard rumors that in a month or so it should be nearly non humid at all. We are after all, 3 hours or more from the coast and on a plateau, so dryness should be normal. Thank god.

Birds and plants though are abundant and I have actually been able to identify several of the flowering plants with my humble little “Common Flowering Plants of India” book. I have a bird book too and have seen some cool ones but haven’t had a great time to sit and bird yet. We saw a peahen when we went out for a run this morning though. Also saw an AMAZING HUGE Coleoptera (beetle) the other day in the courtyard, about 4 inches long, black with large white polka dots, I kid you not. No camera was nearby unfortunately and it hid under a pot after it started receiving so much attention.

Small pale soft looking geckos inhabit the walls of all the buildings I will soon make them my friends.

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