Back in the US, things are a bit different. I’m very happy to have showers with walls that are always hot. To have toilets that you can throw toilet paper in and a bearable outdoor climate.
But there are so many things about my time in India that I already miss after just a few days of being home. The beautiful bright flowers on every tree on every corner, spending time with my extended family, sitting in the sun with a cup of chai and a good book after work.
It feels so strange to be home. What felt like a long, scary trip across the world turned into one of the most fun adventures I’ve ever had. To start, I would like to reflect on my internship. I was so excited to contribute to the work of my nonprofit in a meaningful way which I’m proud to say I accomplished. This experience impacted me professionally by confirming that in my future career, I need to feel like my work is making a difference, a difference that I can see and feel and quantify. This experience taught me that I’m capable of working in a completely foreign context and even thriving in it, which gives me confidence to pursue global work after I graduate this year.
In my public health classes at U of M, we learn a lot about social determinants of health like poverty, housing, and education, but I’ve never focused so closely on these aspects of health as they relate to children. I loved being able to see how what I’ve learned in the classroom in Ann Arbor could be translated to the field all the way across the world. This experience re-energized me for my final year at UM in terms of academics – I really want to soak in as much knowledge and skills as I can in order to contribute better to the field work I hope to do in the future. I’m so excited to have some real-world experience to bring back to the classroom as well because the information I learn now will be that much more important, relevant, and stimulating for me.
Lastly, I can’t begin to qualify how I’ve been impacted personally by this trip. It has been so fulfilling to finally get to meet so much of my family and reconnect with people who all share some part of my identity. Traveling alone has proven to be a very empowering and transforming experience. I learned how to be happy by and with myself, was able to navigate a new city and make good friends along the way. I engaged in new experiences and hobbies that I plan to continue now that I’m home.