Dominic Fusco - 2012 Program Participant

Dominic and his IES roommates en route to an early morning field trip in New Delhi.
Dominic and his IES roommates en route to an early morning field trip in New Delhi.

What made you want to study abroad?

I have always been interested in travelling and experiencing different cultures, and as far back as I can remember it was my dream to study abroad while in college. The only tough decision ended up to be deciding where.

Why did you decide to study abroad with IES?

The Delhi branch of IES Abroad had recently teamed up with the UC system so when I decided to go to India it was the most accessible program to go through. It turned out to be a fantastic program.

What was your educational experience with IES like?

IES is great because it houses it’s own educational institution in the heart of New Delhi. They have their own staff of local teachers/professors who tailor their classes to foreign students and organize outside field trips. This makes India fantastically accessible in a way that is hard to achieve through other local universities. 

What would you like future participants to know about your program?

The staff really wants to help you experience India in its fullest form, and are very passionate about the subjects they teach. They do a great job of easing you into the chaos of life in Delhi and then giving you full autonomy to explore the country, while helping organize trips throughout Delhi and other parts of the country. It is a fantastic medium to discover all that India has to offer.

What made IES special to you?

The close sense of community. We had about 25 students while I was there and everyone got along great. We all travelled together and the IES center was a great place to hang out throughout the week. I made some of my best friends to this day through the program.

Looking back, what's one thing you would have done differently in New Delhi?

I would have taken at least one class at a local university (IES helps organize this for students who are interested). It would have been nice to experience what local college life was like and a good medium for making friends with students native to New Delhi.

Walk us through a typical day in your program.

Wake up at 7:30, take a quick shower then stroll to the IES center for my Philosophy of Yoga class (you can get credits for this!). After two hours I would drink some chai and eat breakfast at the center, then those of us enrolled would catch a rickshaw across town to the National Museum for our Art History course.

We would grab some street food nearby for lunch afterwards, then return to the IES center for our Socioeconomics class where we learn about the macroscopic challenges facing Indian society today. Afterwards I would go home, make myself dinner then spend the evening chatting with friends on our rooftop until it was time to go to bed and start all over the next day. Not a bad life at all.

How did you overcome culture shock?

Culture shock is inevitable in a place like India, it is so different from Western civilization in so many ways. It is best to meet it head on, going out and experiencing all that India has to offer. Gradually expand your comfort zone. IES was great at guiding us through the initial shock and introducing us to an entirely new way of life. Within a week or two, Delhi began to feel like home. 

How has studying abroad in India changed your perspectives on the world?

Coming back from India, everything I had previously taken for granted about how life works in America became relative. You realize so many of the realities of everyday life are socially constructed, and that halfway across the world these realities take on an entirely different form. There was definitely a period of disillusionment adjusting back, but this smooths out as you come to fit the pieces into a newer, larger puzzle. In the long run, I can say that studying abroad in India was the single most impactful event on my life and I would do it over a million times again!