When I reached the airport in Mangalore, the next bigger city close to my destination, I had almost no idea what to expect. I had been to India before, so I had some idea about the culture and I found some IAESTE reports in the Internet where I read that usually they have many interns in Manipal. The job offer said I should work with GIS doing some studies about hydromorphology and geology of a river basin. That was it, so I was quite excited about what kind of people I will work and live with and especially how I would get along with the monsoon.
I was not the only one arriving that day, four polish interns chose the same flight and a driver picked us up from the airport (talking almost nothing) and brought us to our accommodation, a student’s hostel, where we soon met some other interns. They called the people from IAESTE immediately, so that Shubankar, a guy from the LC Manipal came to welcome us, even though it was late at night. I shared a room with Klaudia from Poland and we lived in a flat with the other polish people and one Czech girl. The flat was quite simple, without kitchen, but quite spacious and after cleaning we could unpack our stuff. We didn’t have an air condition, but for me it was really okay with the temperature, sometimes even too cold because of the fan and every one of us caught a cold at least once in the summer. But the problem without AC is the high humidity, so everything got mouldy easily (even passports).
In the first month the house filled up more and more with new interns from all over the world and once we counted about 25 countries. It was really nice too meet people from so many different places and talk about the differences, but on the other hand find out how similar we are and that we also share some kind of global culture. In the evening we often played some games or had some drinks at the rooftop and especially in the beginning, when we were only about 15 to 20 people we went out to have dinner together. In August we were more than 50 interns, so it split up in smaller groups.
The people from the IEASTE LC Manipal took care very well about all of us and organized a lot of things; also free time activities like the dinners or weekend trips or a ball. In general, you could always ask them any question, but of course in India everything takes a little time. In August when their semester started and all IAESTE people were there, everyone got a personal buddy.
Like all other interns I worked at the University, so the LC was always close and you always meet people around the campus or on the street. The professor I had to work for was not easily available, which made the work a bit difficult. He was in charge of a lot of administration work. It was also very difficult to communicate with him (after waiting forever), because of language problems and I think he was not sure what work he should give me. He did not tell me clearly what to do and changed his opinion sometimes. That is why I think I could have done more or more useful research. However, it was useful for me, because I got practice in GIS.
In the beginning I had to search for and read scientific papers about hydromorphology and then do some work with QGIS like delineating the river basin and digitalizing some maps. When my professor changed the topic I had to read some more and in the end I wrote a report about 25 pages together with my colleague, another intern form Poland. It was very interesting for me and I could learn something, but I think for three months it was not so much. For me personally it was a really nice experience, because I improved my English, I got to know a lot of nice people and I could experience life in India from another perspective than the touristic one. Moreover, I got to know another university in a foreign country and their people and structures.
And I learned one important thing about India: It never stops surprising you. It is just so big, having so many cultures and so much diversity. I am really glad that I had time on the weekends to explore the country with my new friends there. We visited tea and spice plantations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a music festival in Goa, ancient sites in Hampi, one really high water fall; we went rafting in the jungle and hiking in the mountains and we went shopping in Mangalore. Sometimes, we visited some beaches nearby.
In general, three months was the perfect duration of the internship and I really liked my experience – the country, the people, the food and the international atmosphere.