My Indian Experience

If I could take this trip over again I would in a heartbeat. I decided to study abroad at the end of my schooling at Eastern. If I could start back again as a freshman I would go on as many study abroad trips as possible! It is a wonderful way to experience different lifestyles, cultures, and ways of life while taking classes towards your degree! I will never forget all of the wonderful memories that I made. I absolutely loved the group that went to India. You create friendships that will last a lifetime and you get to meet wonderful people. This trip had opened my eyes to a lot of different things in this world. It has taught me to always be myself, not to sweat the little things, and to give everything a chance because you never know where life will take you.
 
My name is Jori Leigh Wilson and I am EIU Study Abroad.
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Coming Home

From Agra we drove to Delhi. Our flight was later on at night so we got to meet Dr. Padmaraju’s Brother and his family. They cooked us dinner and we ate and talked about our trip and it was a very nice relaxing evening and a nice last day in India. We were all a little tired and ready to come home! After dinner it was bittersweet because we were ready to go but we didn’t want to leave behind our new best friend, Yajur. He had been through a lot with us Pantaloons, train ride, swimming, hagglers, and becoming our brother. When we arrived to the airport we had to say our goodbyes outside. We took some last min pictures and then headed to our gate.
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The plane ride was very long and we all just really wanted to get home to see our family and friends and to sleep in our own beds!! When we landed we still had a nice little drive back to Charleston and we stopped along the way to get a cheeseburger because we hadn’t had beef in 16 days! I was missing me some beef! We got home and Dr. Carter dropped me off at my apartment and my fiancé and friends had decorated my porch with a sign and balloons that said welcome home! It was really nice. I couldn’t wait to share all of my stories and pictures with my friends and family!

Agra

 
We took our tour bus from Jaipur to Agra and that was a long car ride! But we did see some very interesting things! But on the way we stopped and visited the imperial “ghost city” Fatehpur Sikri. This place was beautiful with intricate details.
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When we arrived to Agra we were all very happy to get out of the car! We went to our hotel and believe it or not this hotel was even nicer than the rest! The structure was beautiful and the decor was modern.
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We got a chance to relax and get settled in and snoop around! I love doing that in hotels! We hit the hay early that night because in the morning we were getting up super early to go and see the Taj Mahal at sunrise! I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to see (with my own eyes) the Taj Mahal. I felt like I was in a dream! We were all very excited to see this wonder of the world! We had a wonderful tour guide who had given tours to many famous people! He has even worked with American producers for films and such. He was great and knew all of the perfect spots to take your picture!
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 I cannot explain the shear beauty I saw while looking at the Taj Mahal it is simply gorgeous. I even told Laura, this wont seem real to me until I physically touch it!
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You had to take off your shoes or wear protective booties.
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After the Taj Mahal we came back and ate breakfast. We had some free time so we went swimming. The pool was a lot of fun and we played Marco Polo with Yajur and he had never played before so that was fun teaching him some games in the pool! One day when we were there it was Raksha Bandhan, which is a Hindu celebration where you honor the special bond and love that you share with your brother. You give them a special braclet called a Rakhi. Since my brother was back home Laura and I made Yajur our honorary brother and we each gave him a Rakhi. It was really fun and I think that he enjoyed it! And it is tradition for the brother to give his sisters something and he got us these really cool cell phone holders and clip on the inside of your purse  so you can always find it! He was the best and I miss seeing his smiling face!!
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The last place we went was the Agra Fort or the Red Fort. This fort was made out of beautiful sandstone. There is a balcony here that looks out over the Taj Mahal. When you take a picture it looks like you are holding the Taj Mahal in your hand!
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Jaipur

We took another plane from Hyderabad to Jaipur (The Pink City). We were all very excited to see the city were everything is pink! We arrived to our hotel and it was so cool! We got there and as soon as you went in there was someone there to great you and to give you a little orange dot on your forehead just like they do in the movies or on TV! We also were handed a glass of peach tea to drink while we waited to check into our rooms! Each room had its own balcony and the shower was out of this world!
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The next day we got up, ate a wonderful breakfast, and headed to the Amber Fort. The best thing about this was that we got to ride an elephant up to the top! Laura and I rode it up and it was so fun! I bought a pair of elephant pants to wear it went perfectly with the elephant ride! After that we got to come back and relax before going to Chokhi Dhani, an ethnic Rajasthani village resort! This place was wonderful! As soon as you arrived you got the orange dot placed on your forehead then when you walked in it was like a carnival. There were booths set up you could get your fortune told, there was a snake charmer, fire breathers, dancing, camel rides and much more! We all felt like little kids again I got my fortune told by a bird. The bird came out of the cage, picked a card at random, then the gentleman asked my age then he read my fortune! Now I am not going to share it because I loved my fortune and I want it to come true!!
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After we walked around for a bit we ate dinner. We had a traditional vegetarian Rajasthani dinner. I will first let you in on a little secret! Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to go to a restaurant, take my shoes off, and sit on the floor to eat, and guess what? That is exactly what we did here! My dream came true and I loved it! You sat in this huge room with people you didn’t know and ate dinner. The servers brought out these plates that were made out of leaves and you had the option to use a plastic fork or your hands. I used my hands because I wanted the total experience and I got it! The food was very goo and spicy! They also brought out milk but it tasted like liquid sour cream, not my cup of tea! I tried everything that was put on my plate and when you took the last bite of something the servers were right there to give you more! It was defiantly AYCE!! I am so glad that I got the chance to have dinner like that! It was a wonderful night in Jaipur! And I am so glad that I got to spend it with my group.
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Hyderabad

We took a plane from Amritsar to Hyderabad. The plane was very cool. They had TV screens that picked up a couple channels. I watched Indian music videos that were amazing! I think that they were much older but they were really fun to watch! When we landed it was late, so we went directly to our hotel to get ready for the next day! Our hotel was adorable! It was more like a bed n breakfast!
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I was extremely excited about Hyderabad because this is where we got to go into a local school that Dr. Padmaraju use to teach at and observe education in India. The school is called Jublee Hills School. When we first arrived we got a tour of the school and we got to meet the principal. I was placed in a Kindergarten classroom. My teachers name was Ms. Nalini. She was an excellent teacher. She was energetic, outgoing, always smiling, and you could tell that she really enjoyed her job!
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The students were just like your typical Kindergarten students! They were excited to be at school and eager to learn and play. They all spoke English which was very nice for me. Actually the whole school’s instruction was done in English. Ms. Nalini was the type of teacher that always had a fun and engaging activity for each lesson and of course there were many songs! She used some songs that I remembered when I was little and then I got to learn a few too!
Some things that I found interesting were:
1. The building was half outside half inside. There was a big commons area for assemblies and then to get to each classroom you walked outside.(Kind of like an outlet mall) 
2.The students addressed everyone by mam and sir. And when they were addressing me they would say Jori mam. The students there are so proper and polite (nothing like our schools)
3. When the students left the room for any reason, to get back in they had to stand at the door, hold out their hand, and ask the teacher for permission to enter the classroom. They would say “Mam may I please come in”. They were not allowed to enter unless the teacher said it was okay.
4. When the students needed to use the restroom they held up their pinky finger  and that let the teacher know so it didn’t disrupt the class!
5. The classroom didn’t have any letters or numbers up because once they learn those they are taught to always remember them and it would be considered cheating if the letters and numbers were up in the room.
When it was time to leave the school it was very hard! My teacher did not want me to leave. The students did make me a farewell card that is absolutely beautiful and it was signed by all of the Kindergarten teachers. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget! If anyone has the opportunity to go the should! It will change your life for the better!
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 Another amazing thing that happened in Hyderabad was the delicious meal we had at Dr. Padmaraju’s mothers house. We got to see where she grew up and meet her family and friends! It was a wonderful experience and the food was SO GOOD! I am going to miss that food! And we got to celebrate her birthday! A tradition there is to feed a piece of cake to the birthday girl. It was fun watching and learning the traditions.
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One night we went to the Falaknuma Palace. It was so much fun because we got to wear  traditional Indian Sari’s. We borrowed them from Dr. Padmaraju’s friends and family. I felt like royalty. Plus who doesent like to get all dressed up?  We took a special car up to the palace and when we arrived our mouths dropped! You could see all of Hyderabad from the Palace and the palace was breathtaking.
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We went on a tour of the palace but I am sorry I don’t have any pictures because photography isn’t allowed. After walking though this masterpiece, it was time to sit down to dinner. The dinner was delicious. The server brought out everything on a tray and served you directly from the pan. One of the best things was that we had a pallet cleanser in-between the appetizer and main course.  It was raspberry and strawberry sorbet. It was such a fun night with the whole group, and Kirans mom came along to join us! It was fun to sit down and relax and just laugh! We all reminisced about our trip and we all became closer that night!
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We visited the Golkonda/Golconda Fort and it was great! It amazes me that people a long long time ago built these beautiful forts! While we were there we learned about the history though a light show it was very cool to see the fort glow with all different colors!
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Hyderabad is also known for its Pearls. It’s nickname is the City of Pearls. We got to go to a Jewelry Store and see all the beautiful pearls. I am getting married July 2015 and I actually purchased my wedding jewelry in Hyderabad! I am really excited to wear it on my special day because it has so many memories!

Amrtisar

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From Delhi we took the train to Amrtisar. The train was interesting! There were a group of girls going on a trip and they were very fun to listen to (even though we had no clue what they were saying)! They were singing, dancing, and playing games! We were served hot tea and cookies, they were very good! The only crazy thing was the bathroom on the train! There was a regular seat and everything but the toilet just went straight down to the tracks! So whatever you did in there went directly on the tracks! I didn’t take a picture because I am a pretty clumsy person and I did not want to drop my phone! We finally arrived (after a fun 6 hours) to our second hotel! I thought the first one was nice! This Ramada blew the first hotel out of the water! It was so fancy and the rooms were perfect! After we checked in we all met to eat lunch and the food was to die for!We then went back to our hotel and went swimming! The pool was on the roof and it was incredible! The water felt wonderful after a day of sight seeing!
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We got to go to the Wagah Border. It is the only road border crossing between Pakistan and India, Everyday at sunset there is a ceremony that takes place! This ceremony reminds me of our 4th of July. Tons of people gather to watch! Before the ceremony begins women are allowed to come down and dance to popular music, well Dr. Russell, Laura, and myself went down and danced with everyone! It was AMAZING!! We didn’t know any moves but everyone helped us out! I really enjoyed the Wagah border! But I will say that it was the hottest ever that day!
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The next day we got up very early so we could see the Golden Temple at sunrise, and let me tell you, that was the perfect time to go! The Golden Temple is a religious place for the Sikhs. But the thing that I loved most about it was that is a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. I cannot describe to you how this temple made me feel. I have never been moved more spiritually in my entire life. It was as if something came over my body and that nothing bad could every happen to me. The temple is surrounded by water that has a healing power if you believe. This temple is amazing in the fact that they offer food to everyone all day and night and that the most powerful/wealthy Sikhs will come and volunteer to clean the temple. There are people cleaning the Golden Temple 24/7. It is simple amazing to see people come together like that.
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Amrtisar will always have a place in my heart!
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New Delhi 2

We visited many beautiful places the Jama Masjid, which is the largest mosque in India, and also the Raj Ghat, which is a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi. The Raj Ghat was decorated beautifully with different patterns of flowers which I am told change daily. 
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We then visited the Qutab Minar, which stands 73 m-high! This was mind blowing to look at because it was all hand built! I loved getting my picture with this!
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The next day in Delhi we went on our religious tour. That was amazing to learn about the different religions of India. My favorite was the  Sikh temple. This temple was made out of beautiful marble. We got to take some pictures outside but once you went into the temple cameras were off limits. We had to wear a scarf on our head and for a little bit I felt like I fit in! Everyone did make us feel extremely welcome even though we were obviously outsiders!
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We even got to see a catholic church, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. But just an FYI for those of you planning on going I bought some candles for my mother in law and they got confiscated at the airport! So be sure to but them in your check in bag!!
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While staying in Delhi we got a delicious home cooked meal from out travel guides mother. They were so inviting and made our group feel right at home! It was also nice to visit a home in India to see what they were like! Delhi was wonderful but it was only our first stop on our incredible adventure!

New Delhi

 

 

 

We arrived in New Delhi and met up with our travel guide and his brother! There names were Nimeth and Yajur. Little did we know that we would become very close with them other the next two weeks! They were amazing! They had everything in order for us and if we wanted to add something in Jajur was right on top of it! There was this one store we wanted to go to called Pantaloons and we kept insisting! That turned into a super funny joke throughout our whole trip!
Our hotel was amazing! It was called The Park. They had wonderful rooms and a great breakfast! Joe, Laura, and I went snooping around and found their pool! The pool had a huge disco ball in the middle, it was awesome! This is defiantly one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in!

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Arriving to India

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When we finally reached our destination (New Delhi) I was extremely happy! My first thoughts were…

1. Wow I cannot believe that I survived the super long flight!

2. I am actually in India!

3. I cant wait to have an experience of a lifetime!

4. It is pretty hot!

On our arrival we met our group leader Dr. Kiran Padmaraju, she had already been there visiting her family and friends! By the way my group consisted of some wonderful people! The faculty members were Dr. Kiran Padmaraju (professor in the Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Level Education Department), Dr. Joy Russell (Chair of the  Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Level Education Department), Ann Brownson (Head Librarian in the Ballenger Teachers Center in Eastern’s Booth Library), Laura Kreig, and Joe Stambaugh who are both students in the education department! I absolutely loved our group! We also met our travel agents who were amazing! We then went to our hotel and got a good nights rest for our first day out in New Delhi!

About Me

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My name is Jori Wilson and I am originally from good old Mattoon, Illinois. I decided to go to Eastern because of its wonderful education program. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to become a teacher. I graduated with my Bachelors in May 2012 and immediately went on to get my Masters degree. I am extremely happy to say that graduated with my masters in elementary education from Eastern Illinois University this summer! I finished up my schooling in the best way possible…STUDYING ABROAD! The education department held a faculty lead study abroad program in Incredible India and I instantly signed up! I couldn’t hardly wait for my trip to get here! In fact I was so excited that I thought that we were leaving Sunday July 27th when actually we were leaving on Monday the 28th! I guess you could say that I was very anxious to embark on a new adventure that would forever change my life! Of course I was a little nervous but who wouldn’t be?