There’s always a lull before the engine starts. I placed my camera to my left side, messaged loved ones, friends, and downloaded last minute music before the vibrations intensified. I knew it was soon. I started to feel the force of the acceleration push my chest against the seat and out the window, I saw the plane angled toward the sky. Then it all stopped: the vibrations, the force, and the anticipation. The sudden change mirrored my inner resistance. In my mind, I was still in California, still in America, spending time with Alice and my parents and friends. I was still lazing around, reading books, and finishing the little tasks that accumulated over the school year. But now, I found myself on a plane throttling towards India. It’s an odd feeling; the feeling of distance between your body and mind.
To my right, I noticed a young girl, about two years younger than I was. She wore a rich green infused with an invasive blue hue shirt. Across the front spelled, “Critical Language Scholarship.” I sunk just a bit deeper into my chair. It was real, I definitely got into this scholarship program and I was actually going to India to learn Hindi. She was the first of many peers I would talk to. There are 27 people in my cohort, ranging from ages 18 to 60s, and from majors and fields as diverse as music ethnography to global health, anthropology, and applied math. We will spend the next eight weeks living with host families, studying Hindi for four hours a day at the American Institute of Indian Studies, and engaging in cultural activities of our choosing.
There’s always a lull before change.