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AIFS Study Abroad in India: Semester or Year
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AIFS Study Abroad in India: Semester or Year

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The experience of a lifetime

The semester begins with a 6 day tour of the Goldren Triangle, three cities in Northen India starting with Delhi, Agra and ending in Jaipur. Each city offers a rich experience of culture, amazing food and beautiful shops. The guide remains the same for the duration of the trip; he picks you up at the airport in Delhi and experiences each tour alongside you. During the first week you are able to ride an elephant up into a fort, see the Taj Mahal and take a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi.

Upon arriving in Hyderabad you are met by the Resident Director, Sumana. Her assistant, Ishmeet and her will plan a variety of events throughout the semester for your group. We were taken to Charimnar, which includes a bazaar, located in the older part of the city, serval restraurants, saree shopping, had cooking lessons, and taken to temples around the city.

Living at the university was the only option for this program. Lodging included a double-bedroom with another AIFS student, bed, bedding, towel, pillow, desk and a closet. The dormitory, Tagore International House, is where all the international students stay. A unique fact about the demographic of the Univeristy of Hyderabad, it is predominately for students going for their masters or doctorate. There is a school located on the South Campus for those completing their equivalent to an undergraduate education in the United States. The University is 2000 acres and includes a few lakes, serval hiking trails and two shopping complexes, better known as the "shop com" where you can get your hair cut, buy food, drink smoothies, grab dinner and the best stop is the shawarma stall (a must try!!!).

The location of the university is a bit far from the rest of the city, a good 10 minutes into Gachibowli then into Indra Nagar where there are several restaurants, the infamous Paradise with the traditional Hyderbadi Biriyani. Farther into the city is Inorbit Mall that has Indian and Western stores, along with a variety of great places to grab a bite to eat. Scattered around the city are several malls, which are the perfect place to be in the afternoon to avoid the heat.

Transportation is easy in Hyderabad. Uber is available and super convenient, if you are only going a short distance taking an auto-rickshaw is another option. Be prepared for the traffic in Hyderabad, while some places may be a few kilometers away, it could take minimum 20-30 minutes when it is not busy.
A perk of not being the one driving is that you are able to take in everything around you and experience another aspect of your new home.

During my semester I went on the Kerala excursion. It was such a fun trip! It began with a backwater tour of Allepey on a house boat and then stopping for lunch and eating it Malayali style. The fresh sea food was amazing. The hotel we stayed at was right on the beach. We hiked around the area we were staying and visited some amazing restaurants and also shops.

A tip I got from 2 other students who had studied abroad in India was to extend your stay, I was able to and was so glad I did! If you can, do it!! India has so much to offer, each state is so different and you will want to make the most of your time while you are there.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

AIFS India

Overall, this semester was both wonderful and challenging.

AIFS was extremely helpful during the pre-departure time (many emails and questions were answered!) and the Resident Director could not have been sweeter or more helpful. As a native of Hyderabad, she truly helped show us the unique culture of the area and helped to broaden our horizons.

Lodging was quite comfortable as well. Tagore (the international residence hall) is very nice- there is wifi in a big common room, the individual rooms have ethernet and ac (helpful during the summer months when we first arrived). The study abroad students live on the top floor, and long-term international students live on the bottom floor. Definitely go out of your way to try and get connected with them- all are very nice people! Mr. Das, who works in Tagore, is incredibly helpful as well and a valuable source of knowledge for everything from how to get to the store to how to travel to Mysore. The kitchen staff is a great group of guys- very friendly as well. The few downfalls included the fact that no outside people were allowed inside Tagore- so if you had friends from a class, they wouldn't be allowed inside, which made it more exclusive than I would have wanted.

Classes were a challenge at first, though I think a lot of that is the adjustment to the different educational systems. It was extremely difficult for me to get in contact with both my professor and the department of the direct enrollment class I was in. The structure of the Hindi class was frustrating- myself and a lot of the students didn't feel as if we had actually learned much Hindi we could immediately apply (it was more grammar structures). Definitely take the Kuchipudi class if you are able to- it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I haven't once regretted taking it.

The Golden Triangle tour at the beginning of the trip was absolutely fantastic. Though we were all a bit jet-lagged throughout it, I was definitely glad I had gotten to see all those places at the first part of the trip (by the end, I was ready to go home!) Traveling in the rest of India is pretty easy and can be cheap if you do some research (I recommend going through Stayzilla.com for lodging) and there are really beautiful places.

Really my main complaint with AIFS is over the Community Engagement Program. That was one of the reasons I selected AIFS, and I filled out the EXTREMELY long application, only to never hear anything back regarding the program (it turns out only two of us had applied, so they decided not to hold it). This was really frustrating to me, as I had been looking forward to it. It also wasn't nearly as easy to get connected with places to volunteer with as we had been promised in the brochures.

Another issue was with the orientation packet- it makes India sound like this terrifying, horrible place and impossible to navigate or manage on one's own, when in fact, it is pretty easy to figure out. There is definitely a learning curve, but the orientation doesn't do it any favors.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    4

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Life changing experience

Everyone that travels to India should go to Varanasi and take sunrise and sunset boat rides on the Ganges.

I chose this program because of the Travel included at the beginning of the program and the community engagement program.

My accommodations was a Dorm/hostel.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    3

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Life changing experience

The dorm had international students from various programs. The AIFS program was clearly the best. The golden triangle trip at the beginning of the program was amazing. Students learned right away how to travel in India but with training wheels. It set us up for later adventures on our own.

Academics:
The issues with academics are the Indian education system, not a program issue.

Living Situation:
The dorm/hostel was a great choice. Air conditioning when every day was in the 100's. Many opportunities for independent travel.

Cultural Immersion:
Classes held with local students. AIFS students were able to join a local football/soccer team. Life long friendships were made.

Program Administration:
In country program director was amazing as well as the dorm house manager.

Health and Safety:
Dorm/hostel had very good security. Always traveled in groups or with another student.

Social Life:
Made lifelong local and international friends.

Institution Affiliates:

World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation