This first week and a half has been full of excitement and foreign experiences. All of the new sights, sounds, and feelings are at some points overwhelming but certainly are contributing to creating a unique and immersive experience. Every day brings another chance to adapt, learn, and empathize.
Top five highlights of my first week in India (not in any particular order):
1. Seeing the Taj Mahal. To get to the Taj, there are some gates you have to go through first. The Taj is mostly blocked by the front wall/gate, and as you get closer and closer, you can start to see it through this gate. Our guide instructed us to walk through the gate’s inner tunnel with our heads down and not look up until he told us to, once we were fully out of the tunnel and the Taj was completely in view. Upon lifting my head, the view was absolutely breathtaking. Pictures will never be able to do this monument justice, and it’s actually way bigger I than expected.
2. Swimming in the 2010 Commonwealth Games swimming pool. We have been given the opportunity to train once a day in the swimming pool where the previous Commonwealth Games where held in Delhi. It is an amazing facility and has been so fun to speak to both the young and older swimmers, sharing our love for the sport with each other. Many of the older men have asked us questions about college athletics as well as stroke technique advice. It has been really cool to share tips with them. We are thrilled to be training in such an amazing facility.
3. Figuring out how to use the Delhi Metro (successfully). The fastest and most convenient way of transportation is the Delhi Metro. It has been named one of the best in the world… meaning it’s also one of the most extensive. The first time using the metro without one of our supervisors was a really cool feeling. I felt very independent and had a really great time learning from the locals, as I attempted to stand out less, and fit in a little more.
4. Singing the “Gayatri Mantra” at the DAV Jasola School. The students at the DAV school we have been visiting invited us to their annual art and science exhibition and performance. During our visits there, we have been learning the “Gayatri Mantra,” which is a traditional Hindi chant used for meditation. At the beginning of the ceremony and before the performances, they had us chant the mantra on stage while the heads of the school lit candles. It was a really cool way to show respect and thank the people and students of the school who have been so welcoming to us.
5. Bonding with all of the other student-athletes on the program. Each night after dinner, I have loved talking with all of the other student-athletes. It is really fun to get to know the Stanford student-athletes as well as getting to know my fellow Duke student-athletes better in an environment away from campus.