Life in India is like no other: a magnetic and magical place where rajahs once roamed in palaces made of marble and fine stone, where early philosophies and religions were born, and where impenetrable cultural deutero truths were developed over thousands of years. India is color, texture, fabrics, and distinct fragrances, ranging from delicious spices frying in ghee to trash burning on the side of a roadway. A place of intense dichotomy, where the richest of the rich live amongst the poorest of the poor and the culture dictates the place of people in a largely insurmountable socioeconomic ladder. But it is also a place of great unity, where millions of people live together in some of the largest megacities on earth -- the country has so many incredible and captivating facets.
Geography & Demographics
Situated in southwest Asia, the landmass properly known as the Republic of India is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. To the north India is bordered by Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. With a population of well over one billion, India is second to China as the most populated country in world. The majority of citizens are Hindu with other notable religions being Islam, Jainism, and Christianity.
With some teaching placements lasting up to two years, teachers will inevitably experience the changes in weather. Most regions experience small changes in weather patterns -- nothing drastic like the four-seasons many are accustomed to. Teachers should be informed of the climate where they will be prospectively placed to aid in packing the appropriate clothing (See Packing for Teachers for more Advice). The mountainous regions in the north experience a more temperate climate while the southern regions endure a tropical monsoon climate.
Food & Culture
Indian cuisine is known around the world for its diverse and exquisite taste. In fact, chicken tikka masala, a popular and commonly served dish, has been said to be the national dish of Great Britain. Though some food really packs the heat, the term spicy refers to the use of spices when referring to Indian cuisine. Nearly all Indian food is spicy, and only some of it is hot. Spicy and hot. Two different meanings.
The sheer size of the subcontinent fosters ethnically diverse food, cultures, and activities. From religion to weather there are numerous differences divided geographically. The majority of southern India practices Hinduism, where temples and ashrams are plentiful. A bus might stop unannounced for the driver to hop off to pay his respects and leave a small offering. Southern India is a vegetarian's dream world as devout Hindus consume only plant-based diets.
Contrary to the south, the north has a much larger Muslim community. There you can find oh-so-good shawarmas and kebabs. The sound of adhan can be heard echoing throughout most neighborhoods at scheduled times during any given day. At this time, many shops temporarily close so prayer can commence.
There are hundreds of mother tongues spoken across India. The official language spoken by the government is Hindi and can be understood nearly everywhere throughout the country. The second most common language is English. Educational instruction is taught through English and is widely understood. The local currency is the Indian rupee. Money orders and ATMs are widely available but generally incur a foreign transaction fee.
Teaching in India
India is becoming a popular teach abroad destination. With placements ranging from one month to over two years, the eager teacher can find programs tailored to their individual needs. Some placements are on a volunteer basis, while others offer exceptional benefits. Whether looking for rural or urban placements, India offers it all. Some paid placements offer airfare, accommodation, health insurance, and even free tuition for the children of foreign teachers. Most teaching placements require a TEFL certificate or minimally, a college degree. Select programs offer TEFL certification classes with program placement assistance. Teachers often work with young children or in subject-specific classrooms with teens. Children with disabilities or adults seeking to improve their conversational skills are also frequent students for international teachers will encounter in India. Teaching in India can be a challenging yet rewarding experience.