I got in touch with Bridge Cultures on Linkedln where I met Sanam, the founder of this organization. After some Skype calls I decided to spend a period in Bangalore working with him and supporting his business design activities. Sanam guide me through the city, show me the most interesting areas, markets and temples as well. I really enjoyed the time spent together. I think his time and support was the most valuable of this program. My personal take away is about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and start exploring new cultures, people and overall, my personal life!
My first trip to India was life changing which is why I have chosen to come back a second time. I no longer consider the group of people I met during my stay here friends, I see them more as family. India is a magical place but can be difficult to navigate. Traveling to another country can be scary but I know based of first-hand experience how important it is to have a trustworthy organization behind you to help with your transition and any issues that may arise. Bridge cultures not only takes care of the logistical aspect of your trip, they also help with the cultural side by answering any questions you may have and give you tips and recommendations during your stay here. Having organizations like Bridge cultures that know what they are doing and taking their time to connect you with the right people and place you in the right setting will make your experience here worthwhile and even more memorable. Sanam was kind enough to host me during one of my trips to Bangalore and I can say based of my experience, I got see a part of India most foreigners do not get to experience and because of this India is no longer a foreign place to me, I now consider it a second home.
My time in India left me with incredible memories and friendships I know will last for life. I was very lucky to have met the friends and colleagues I did, and they were incredibly helpful in getting my life set up in a new and exciting place. However without them it would have been very difficult to find a place to live, set up a bank account, and take care of all of the various tasks that come with moving to a new country. Having something like Bridge Cultures would have set my mind at ease and would have been a huge help in taking care of all of these issues so I could focus more on getting the most out of my Indian experience.
When you're abroad, in a country with such a different culture, simple things to be properly settled are very heard. Sanam helped me to overcome these difficulties, he found an accommodation for me, was always there to give an helping hand. He spoke to me about Indian culture, the do's and don'ts. Thanks to Sanam I had an incredible time in India, I felt safe and I was not feeling alone.
Living in India for 6 months was a unique experience. I made friends that I hope to keep forever and immersing myself in such a different culture was really enriching personally.The hospitality and openness with which everybody received us and took us in from day one was something that really moved me and changed me making me more welcoming to others. Getting settled as a foreigner was tough at first, though. The NGO where I worked provided us with a small stipend but didn't provide accommodation or help with other practical issues. Indian landlords generally don't like to rent out apartments to bachelors (single people) or unmarried couples, and some don't speak fluent English which could be a big problem for communication. Having an institution like Bridge Cultures would have been really useful at the time. Besides accommodation, other basic things like getting an Indian SIM card or opening a bank account are also hard for a foreigner as you need an Aadhar card (Indian ID), so having someone to assist me on this would have been great. I think Bridge Cultures can help in many aspects, not only with practical issues but also to adjust culturally and enjoy your city and the country in a more authentic way. I would recommend it to any foreigners coming to India, especially for the first time.
Traveling is a wonderful experience in which we face transitions and engage meaningfully with new people and spaces. Personally, visiting India, I found myself overwhelmed with new sounds, smells, languages, and other beautiful stimuli. Coming home to a family at a homestay put my racing mind at ease. The shared space with a family allowed me to both rest and reflect on my engagements with the city during the day. For me, the homestay experience enriched my international experience and permitted me to make the most of my time and, most importantly, learn extensively.
Living with my host family in Bangalore was a really enjoyable experience that I think gave me lots of insight on local life I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. My family helped me understand more of the cultural, economic and social dynamics around me. I also felt much more relaxed and comfortable connecting with the neighbourhood because they took care to show me around and explain how the city works. Overall, settling into my daily life in Bangalore for those 3 months was a lot easier than I expected!
Living with a host family during my two months stay in India allowed me to experience one side of the culture first hand. In a country as diverse as India, it is not possible to unify all of the cultures as one, and when visiting as a foreigner it could be easy to try to do so rather than recognizing how multicultural the country is. It helped me create meaningful relationships with the locals, and experience the daily life of modern India allowing me to discern between customs I learnt from India’s history and how people live in the current times.