The final orientation of this beginning series of orientations was the arrival orientation in India. There will be others throughout the year but this was the last continuous one from departure to arrival.
The arrival orientation took place at the resort that was booked for us in India, where I left off in my last post. After sleeping for about 5 or 6 hours from 3am until 8-9am, the day continued with the start of the arrival orientation. We ate breakfast which was my first taste of Indian food made in India. It was pretty good, but for most of the dishes, I had no idea what I was eating. After we ate, all the AFS India kids stood in two lines, one for the boys and one for the girls. At this point, we had no idea what was going on and the humidity was really bothering me but we soon started moving up and then realized we were taking part in a traditional Indian welcoming ceremony. This made me feel like I was truly in India. They placed a garland of Indian Marigolds around each of our necks and placed a bindi on our foreheads which is the dot in between the eyebrows. In this case it was done with a vermilion colored paste and rice was pressed in. My bindi did not last the entire day but it made me realize that I touch my face more than I thought (I rubbed it off before I thought to take a picture). The rest of the orientation was made up of sessions just like the National PDO and Gateway orientations, but the timing was nicer because the sessions usually started at 11am and ended no later than 6pm except on the last evening. This gave the people from the US more time to adjust to the time difference. My favorite part of this orientation was the cultural stalls and cultural show which took place on Friday evening, the day before the orientation ended. The cultural stalls were a bunch of tables set up around a room, each representing a city in India where students would be hosted. Here I had the opportunity to try on a saree (the traditional women's clothing in India) and I got another bindi, this time a jeweled one. I also tasted many foods which were very interesting and nothing like what is available in the US. I will try to get a photo of me in the saree uploaded on here once I get the photo sent to my phone. After the cultural stalls, we went downstairs to do the cultural/talent show. During this, groups of students from different countries would put on a performance relating to their culture. The American group of about 10 people really struggled to come up with a performance. It seemed like every other country had a really well thought out performance. For example, the students from Thailand and Japan both had brought traditional outfits and performed traditional dances. In the US, the culture is very diverse and there is not one outfit to define the entire country. We ended up being the final performance and sang our national anthem and had everyone join us for the Cha Cha slide. The final day of the orientation, Saturday July 1, was also nice. We heard from a speaker who has lived in India for 3 years now and she was very helpful. We started our FRRO form, which is the registration for foreigners in India. It is due 2 weeks after arrival. In the next post, I will talk about meeting my host family and the first week in India.
Namaste! Mera naam Anna hai! Hi! my name is Anna. Please enjoy reading about my experience as a high school junior in India and ask any questions you may have!