Every time I meet someone and they find out I lived in India for 9.5 months I am immediately bombarded with questions, but the first one is almost always " what made you want to go there?" as their face either lights up with excitement or turns down in that weird way that shows disappointment or disgust. Depending on who I'm talking to the answer varies but most times I find myself really searching for the honest answer and I think it really was as simple as why not?
While in undergrad I majored in international studies and studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Like many students who study abroad I took the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and since then I was always hungry for more. I'm not exactly sure when my fascination for India began. It could have been a mixture of Slumdog Millionaire, Eat, Pray, Love, and my IS background. I was taken aback by this colorful land that was tainted by so many social issues. I wanted to help in some small way, I wanted to explore its complexity and be a part of the country's vibrant colors, spices, and traditions.
So when it was time for post grad options I knew that I wanted to work abroad. I finalized my plan to participate in a social enterprise fellowship that took US graduates and placed them with social enterprises in India to shadow innovators and also offer perspective on ways to improve their enterprises. Once I actually got to Hyderabad, India and actually began my expat life I found myself asking "why the hell did you come HERE?!" Slumdog Millionaire is an accurate account of life in India... Hot as heck, dirty as heck, and crazy as....you get the point lol. There are so many negatives in the country that scream at you such as poverty and corruption that it's hard to get to the positives.
The best way to sum up my India experience is that it brings out the best and the worst of people. There were times when I found myself screaming at auto drivers trying to cheat me and then there were times where I gave so much of myself and could see so much growth in my character. Many expats living throughout India have confirmed this sentiment. Overall I'm grateful for my time in India. Yes people stared at me, ran up to me and snapped pictures like I was an animal at the zoo and ignored me but I also trekked a mountain by myself, lived on a train for two weeks with 400 Indians exploring 12 of the country's cities, and learned to be unapologetically me! When I think of all the positive experiences I have no choice but to say thank you dear India for all that you've shown me.
Martice currently works in Washington, DC with a social enterprise organization. Continue to follow Martice on her blog at Black Girl in the Big World and Twitter @blkgirlbigword