Discovering new culture
To say that AIESEC gives a lot of opportunities means to say nothing. This is not just opportinities, not just experience. This is the global change of the personality, behaviour, habits, opinions, point of view. Especially if you go for the internship or CEED. I got great experience in this summer, when I went in AIESEC Baroda (India) as a coordinator of the Project One World (POW), the biggest project in India in this time (25 trainees). Obviously I went in Baroda firstly for the project, but in spite of it CEED was my acquaintance with an exotic, fabulous, magic, incredible country – India. India has absolutely different traditions, culture and mentality in comparison with Russia. I can continue the list: climate, people’s behaviour, food, clothes… Everything is absolutely different. That is why for me this CEED was the understanding of the tremendous, marvellous, fantastic culture.
My first impression was the June National Conference. The annual conference for 300-400 delegates is the most crazy, eccentric event in AIESEC India. Believe me, I will never forget this crazyness! For example, 300 delegates jump to 50 bottles of Coca Cola. And this wonderful drink is flowing not in the mouthes, but in the clothes, chairs, floor… Do you think these people are conservative? Nothing of the kind! If you saw their jives… It is a set of the most indecent movements! Moreover it looks very funny! Are these people shy? I am not sure! I thought that Indian girls wear traditional clothes. That is why I bought some dresses in Delhi and came at the conference in appropriate style. And what do you think? First what I saw were several girls in miniskirts and open tops. But to say the truth people in AIESEC are more open, less conservative, then the inhabitants in India. When I arrived in Baroda I saw other picture. If you don’t want to be starred, you should follow some rules. For instance, open shoulders are very sexy for Indian people, but many women who wear sari have opened stomach, what is sexy in Russia, but absolutely usual for Indians. If you are a foreigner, nothing will help you, even severe style of clothes. People will look and point at you. Only 30 trainees and several ceeders are the foreigners in the whole Baroda.
Understanding of new amazing culture and unknown conditions happens every day!
Climate: tropical. In first days it was very difficult to breathe. In the summer it is very hot. When I was in Agra, it was 49 degrees and I got a fever 40 degrees. A feeling is like you are on the frying pan! Monsoon is very nice, very pleasant, very fresh period. I was really happy that my CEED was in this time. People wait for the rain, they really enjoy it. On the other hand, we were very scarred to organize some big events because of unpredictable rain. It can start suddenly and nobody knows when it stops – in 5 minutes or in 1 week.
Food: very spicy, extremely spicy. Sweet things are extremely sweet. As for me, I got used. First 2 weeks I cried: I hate Indian food. Now I enjoy it very much. And when I ordered Russian salad sandwich, russian food seemed to me just «tasteless».
Clothes: colorful, bright, beautiful. You endure the heat very easily in this kind of clothes.
People: different. Like in each country there are good and bad people. In general they are very friendly, hospitable, positive.
Culture: extremely different from Russian culture. People in general are very conservative. The majority of young people don’t have girlfriends or boyfriends. Any relationship is possible only after marriage. It is really amazing that people appretiate friendship. They are ready to do everything for the friends. I always feel their support. Indian people celebrate Happy Friendship day! I think it proves and shows very much.
There are many differences, something I can accept, something not. For example, what I don’t like: there are a lot of shops on the street, where people can buy something to eat. After eating they throw scraps and bottles on the ground, because there are no dustbins. Or there are a lot of beggars, who always ask money. I am very afraid of some little children, who are holding a candle or a burning branch and asking money. Sometimes they come so near!
Moreover, I tried to find the similarity between 2 cultures: Indian and Russian. It was difficult, but possible.
1) They are very friendly with guests. Their hospitality is unlimited! I used to live in 2 families. They took care of me so much! A lot of people invited me to have dinner in their house.
2) They remove shoes when they enter somebody’s house.
3) They like to think and to talk about different philosophic topics like what is life and existance. We spent a lot of hours talking about friendship, love, fears, life and death, Good and Bad. I always was impressed how deep and thoughtful these people are.
4) They have very crazy roads. But the quantity of the fools is not so muchJ! (In Russia we have a joke about ourselves: In Russia there are many bad roads and fools. Of course we are just kidding!) On the other hand, we don’t have cows on the roads. It’s great experience when you are sitting on the bike, skiming along the roads with the high speed, meeting different obstacles like cows and people with carts and trying to maneuver.
5) They like to sing and they really enjoy singing. The only difference is that russian people usually drink when they are drunk.
I am impressed, amazed, delighted, I am in love with India! That is why I decided to come back for the internship. I want to know more about this culture, to understand these traditions. I wish everybody this experience!