In a final time of reflection, while writing a short paper summing up my thoughts and lessons gained from my time in India, I realized that there were two things that really stood out to me as key personal takeaways. I also have gained a lot of skills revolving around the entire research process, but keeping time and space in mind, I will just speak to personal growth in this post.
First, I cannot emphasize how much I feel like I have gained from coming to understand the importance of smiling and making sure to have a visibly warm presence while in social situations. By social situations, I am not just referring to drinks with friends or family dinners, but really any time that social interaction might happen, and any time in public. I had so many memorable and sudden interactions with strangers who approached me after I smiled at them. In fact, just in the last day or two, I had a similar interaction with a stranger asking for directions, who told me that he walked up to me because I was presenting myself as warm. I’m proud of this, as it was a big goal of mine coming back to the US.
Second, the trip taught me a new level of self-reliance. I do not want to go as far as saying that I am completely self-reliant, because that is not the case, but I have found a much better, healthy and sustainable balance. Before the trip, I tended to turn to others before looking into myself for answers and thoughts. But after nearly a month on my own, I learned the value and specific tools on how to rely on myself.
This trip literally has changed my life, in all positive ways. I cannot thank everyone who was involved enough. You have helped give me more than I will ever be able to repay.