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By Kushali Atukorale
Midsummer… Thousands of rickshaws... as many wandering cows as there are people on the roads… Dust everywhere, at all times of the day… Hot air… Garbage all over the place…

India made the dullest impression on me, bringing to mind the saying, ‘life is not a bed of roses,’ which in turn made me consider the negative aspects as a challenge. I was determined to start a new life, as a student of the University of Delhi for the next three years. It was hard, yet interesting and fun, even with the heavy load of studies and assignments.

Getting into a reputed college was one of the hardest tasks, but I was lucky enough to enter Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), which is known as one of the best colleges in the Asia. In addition, the guys loved to hang out with LSR girls since they were known as the ‘best among the rest’ and the guys never failed to speak highly of the girls from the prestigious LSR. It was a tag that helped in tight corners!

As students, we were not spoon-fed and we had to find our own references but sometimes we were lucky enough to get the class assignments as home assignments – sometimes we just rewrote what was in the text books, which ultimately ended with an astonished shout from lecturers and less marks. As always, the endless comparison of marks and assignments took place as well.
The first few months were the dullest as we all generally kept to ourselves with just “hi,” “hey,” “how are you?” and “where are you from?” doing the rounds. However, the Indian students never forgot to give a helping hand when it came to the language barrier, experienced by myself and the other foreign students.
Members of the faculty tended to teach in Hindi, forgetting the fact that there were foreign students as well, which made us to shout, “We cannot understand.”

The first three months were really hard when it came to purchasing goods since no fruit and vegetable sellers were able to understand what I really wanted so I ended up drawing the fruits and vegetables and ultimately paid double the price since they knew I wasn’t Indian. All that ended after I got the hang of the language.

The entire first year was spent getting to know each other and becoming familiar with the seniors as well as with the places in college, including the library. I saw the inside of the library only once in a blue moon, when I went there to renew my library card and borrow books when examinations loomed.
Thousands of tutorials were available but none of us would go through them before the exams, since we were students who were happy with the marks we obtained, high or low.

The second year was better as we knew each other and were involved in many societies, which gave us the opportunity to be with the rest of the college girls and to recognise our talents. One of the important events that took place was the rock concert by Lucky Ali, although I was not really fascinated since there was the language problem to deal with.
The month of March was the most vibrant, with the ‘Holly’ festival, since it presented the opportunity of throwing colours at anyone. Red, orange, green and yellow were the most important colours.

Kids would wait for this day and get ready with all kind of water balloons, cut school and wait for pedestrians in order to attack. It also gave students the chance to throw colours at the teachers they loathed and no one could complain since it was the festival of colours. My friends and I were always subject to these attacks and we would return to our apartment boasting different shades, which would last for weeks.

The 15-day Autumn break October 1 to 15 gave me the opportunity to go out of Delhi and have some fun, since Autumn is the best season to move around in India.
Although the final year is known as the most important, we all were involved in many activities during this time. Graduation Night was one to remember, and we all dressed up in our best and most colourful sarees with striking makeup.

My three years in India were amazing, although life in Delhi was awkward at times since the language issue played a huge role. Many people would throw stares and weird looks towards foreign students when we started to communicate with the outsiders.
The studying and facing of such challenges made me more independent and helped me learn how to face life alone without the help of the family.

At home, we have our parents to help us out but when you are a student abroad, you have to watch out for yourself. It’s all about survival – that was the best experience, apart from obtaining a degree.

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