Tuesday, May 16, 2017

On the Eve of Departure

Europe - a place I have head is very beautiful and a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. I still regret the fact that I was not proactive enough to apply for a summer internship in Europe during the junior year of college. But no more regrets! I am going to Europe tomorrow and am pretty excited about it.

The purpose for going to Europe is to visit universities in Switzerland, Italy, and France and learn about the higher education system in those universities, and at the same time forge research collaborations with those universities. Given my interest in learning about higher education and especially how academic cultures vary across the globe, I am really looking forward to this trip as this trip will unravel some of the intricacies of the higher education system in European universities for me. I am specifically interested in knowing how the universities that I will visit address the issues of diversity and inclusion, given they have a diverse student base that not only differs on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender but also differs in terms of linguistic abilities.

While I am excited to be going to Europe, a part of me is nervous as well. I think there are two reasons for my nervousness. First, I have some kind of travel-phobia where the fear of unknown makes me very scared of traveling. Before travel, I am usually anxious about whether I am forgetting some important things that I should pack or if I will be able to reach to the airport in time or something else on similar lines. Second, this is the first time I will be traveling in countries which do not speak Hindi or English. And to be honest, I am a little scared about that aspect.  I have been to the Dominican Republic before where people speak Spanish but I went there with a school group and all the arrangements where done by our hosts to make sure we are comfortable once we reach. This time, I do not get to meet with the school crew until I spend three days there by myself. I was thinking about it yesterday morning - what happens once I reach the Munich airport and need to know specifics about the local transport system and nobody speaks English? What happens if I have to find directions on the street and I ask people and nobody understands me? I know that it will be not as bad as someone will understand and speak English (my English privilege), but as of now the fear of unknown dawns upon me.

While I aim to forge professional collaborations while I am in Europe, I aim to build personal friendships with many, especially the ones who will be with me as part of the school crew. I think there is something about being together in a foreign land that brings people together in unique ways. Needless to say, I am excited for the educational and cultural experience. See y'all in Europe!