My adventure

On August 7th 2011 I went on my first big adventure overseas… to India! The first question people asked me when I told them my plan was “Why the hell India!?” I’m not exactly sure why. My mum traveled there when she was younger, so that probably had something to do with it. But I knew one thing for sure. I didn't want to spend my gap year in a boarding school in England (which is what a lot of people do). Don’t get me wrong. I would absolutely LOVE to go to the UK. But I’d just spent my last 13 years at school and the last thing I wanted to do was go work in one and spend every weekend at the pub with the same group of people I've been living near at home. Also, I wanted to go somewhere out of my comfort zone. And you can’t get much better than India.
I was doing charity work for 3 months with a company called Channel Youth. I was based in the beautiful city of Udaipur, in Rajasthan. Every morning for 2 hours I taught at the local village day care, with kids aged 2-6. Then in the evenings we would go to an orphanage in town, where I had a group of 15 boys, aged 11-13. You can read about what I taught them and did with them here.

I traveled over to India with 5 other Australian girls, Sophie, Annierose, Maddy, Lauren and Hannah, who soon became some of my best friends and like my family. During our time there, we met masses of other volunteers from all corners of the globe - one of the reasons why it was such an amazing opportunity. 

We were able to do so many things in our 3 months. We did three weekend trips to, Jodhpur (on a camel safari), Agra (to see the Taj Mahal) and Ranthambhore (on a tiger safari). As well as these trips we celebrated Diwali (India's biggest festival) and numerous other festivals which we were lucky to be able to participate in. As you can imagine I went crazy and shopped till I dropped (which barely made a dent in my wallet as India is SO CHEAP!). I was so upset when the time was up and I had to say goodbye to my kids. I felt as if they were my own, and I'd grown so close to them. But it was time to move on and Sophie, Lauren, Annierose and myself set out to backpack our way around the country for 6 weeks!

I suppose you could say we traveled clockwise around the country, visiting 18 different towns and cities on our way. I never realised just how big India is. Living in Australia has always had me assuming we were one of the biggest countries and most others were tiny. But we covered so much ground in the 6 weeks! It was a little rushed, but we managed to see most of the things we wanted to. India is such a diverse country, the north is completely different to the south. I don't think anyone can say they've 'seen India' until they cover a wide variety of areas, because it is really so different in every place. 

This trip was a big thing for me. I've never traveled further than 4 hours from home (by air) and the longest I've been without my family was a week. So four and a half months in a third world country was a real shock. I did get quite homesick from time to time, but I suppose that's all part of the experience. I saw so many amazing things and met such interesting people. I would love to go back one day (not in a hurry though), because there is still so much more to explore. 
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