My first week in Bangalore is in the books! It’s left me absolutely exhausted, but in the best way possible!
During information sessions leading up to the trip, everyone emphasized how often I would be stared at for looking so out of place. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous to even make the five minute venture to the phone store last Thursday (AKA the first time I left my room). Within 90 seconds, the staring warnings became true. Everyone- and I mean everyone- was looking at me. One man even slowed down his car to gaze at me walking by! I was so freaked out I turned around, only to realize I had been dragging my raincoat through the dirt for the last minute or so, which was the cause of all the unwanted attention. Yikes! Embarrassed as I was, I continued on my mission and eventually found a phone carrier that would offer me a plan. With the combination of an old iPhone I borrowed from a friend from home and a crazy amount of data (for a crazy low price), I’m able to imessage my friends wherever I go which made me so happy! I know getting a SIM card sounds like an easy task, but I was really proud of myself for finally doing something solo in India!
The first few days were a lot lonelier than I realized they would be. I hadn’t really met anyone in the city and I could only really communicate with home at the beginning and end of the days. My friend Heena (who is also interning in Bangalore right now!!) and I made plans to hang out on that first Saturday, and that really got me through those first lonely days.
After research on tourist websites, I found out about this huge market Bangalore has- the KR market. I thought it would make for a quaint afternoon activity, but in reality the market was insane! There were people and cows flooding the streets and stands as far as the eye could see. It was incredible to see the mounds of spices and mangos being sold; the colors and smells bombarded your senses! They have a flower market in the center of KR that is famous and raved about on the tourist sites and it really met all expectations. Vendors sold flowers on strings rolled into huge mounds and they smelled GREAT. I was so tempted to buy them, but didn’t want to have to drag them across town all day. From (trying) to cross crazy streets to getting caught in the rain, it was a great day with a friend from home!
On Sunday a friend of my landlady (random, I know) invited me to go to this art festival nearby. I took her up on the offer, excited for the chance to do some local shopping. The festival was at a nearby college and was so cute! It was this huge maze of tents filled with handmade goods. I’m glad I only brought limited cash- I could have spent my entire budget there! My friend helped me haggle everything I bought, to avoid being scammed like the typical foreigner. She also helped me pick out beautiful fabric to take to her tailor so he could make me a kurta. I don’t think I’ve ever had a piece of clothing specifically sewn for me so I’m excited to see how it turns out. After the market, I decided to walk around a nearby park. The city closes down the streets running through the park on Sundays, so there were a lot of pedestrians out. I loved seeing the random games of cricket and the families lounging around. Two families even stopped me to take photos with their children, so I might have made a Holiday card or two!
Monday marked the official start of my internship, which has kept me so busy. I normally go in around 7:30 and go on rounds with the surgical team. Then the rest of the day is tailored to what I want to see. So far I have shadowed a PA (which is a bit different than a PA in the US), learned about how the hospital charts patient information, toured the pathology lab, and observed patient appointments. I learned that the hospital I’m interning at was actually founded by an American and is quite similar to the hospitals we have at home. That being said, it is also full of differences which I learn more and more about everyday (I’ll probably go more in-depth once I have more than three days experience to speak from). Overall, the team has been incredibly helpful, especially in the cafeteria when I can’t figure out what to order!
Just within a week I feel like I have learned so much about myself and the country. Additionally, I feel much less lonely now than I did a week ago. I still constantly text friends from home (hi emma) but I have also gained friends in India who have taken me shopping, brought me to a birthday party, and invited me over for dinner. I’m excited to see where the next four weeks take me!